The repercussions following the forcing of Sir Tim Hunt to resign as an honorary professor at UCL, in a row over comments he made which the Provost of the university with his band of misguided cohorts deemed as sexist, has fuelled controversy throughout the nation.
A former president of UCL’s Student Union has written the institution out of his will in protest at its treatment of a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, who was shabbily treated by the very people who should know better. To evoke such ridiculous ideology, which shames the very existence of free speech, particularly when it’s humorous, from an academic institution of learning is the ultimate in lunacy and a sign that free thinking has hit a new level of deterioration.
Jeremy Hornsby, seventy, an author and journalist, has now cut his alma mater out of his million-pound legacy. Mr Hornsby had planned to leave each of the two establishments that educated him – Winchester College and UCL – a tenth of his estate as a sign of gratitude. He will now write UCL out of his will, leaving it around £100,000 worse off.
Mr Hornsby wrote to Professor Michael Arthur, UCL’s Provost, warning him of his intention to cut off UCL. His threat became a reality after the Provost failed to even acknowledge him.
In his letter, Mr Hornsby explained that his exasperation with UCL over its seemingly soft stance on Islamic extremists, including the allegation that the so-called ‘underwear bomber’, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, had become radicalised there during his studies had been compounded by the Tim Hunt debacle.
Mr Hornsby wrote: ‘I have always been a loyal apologist and enthusiast for UCL where I was President of the Students Union, 1958/9, the year we moved to the old Seaman’s Hospital on Gordon Street. I have managed to ignore the various decisions over the years which appear to have enabled the radicalisation of Muslim students at UCL, but the case of Sir Tim Hunt is the last straw. Suffice to say that if I do not read that Professor Hunt has been reinstated within the next week or, should he decline to return, that an apology has been issued to him, I shall sadly feel that I must alter my will to remove the benefaction to UCL.’
The fact that Jeremy Hornsby has not even received a reply to his letter goes to prove that UCL is now run by a bunch of arrogant people whose tenure represents, in my view, a threat to everything that academia is supposed to represent. It seems that standards of decency have given way to abrasive behaviour, not worthy of people entrusted with the nation’s education.
Sir Tim, a biochemist, caused a storm of protest largely among feminists, after reports of his speech in South Korea were tweeted. Sir Tim reportedly said: ‘Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab; you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry.’ Sir Tim said the comments were a joke. A recording, released recently, shows his audience laughing after he calls himself a ‘monster’.
Mr Hornsby, who graduated from UCL in 1959 after studying Philosophy, said: ‘I wrote my will many, many years ago and there was no question UCL would get ten per cent. But I just feel very strongly about the treatment of Sir Tim and have decided to change it… When I wrote to the Provost I was astonished not even to receive an acknowledgement.’
UCL keep insisting that their decision not to reinstate Sir Tim is right. In my view, they should all resign in shame and put an end to their bungling of a minor incident by giving it credence to inflame public opinion.