The cancellation of a lecture by the biologist Marie-Luise Vollbrecht on gender and sex by the Humboldt University (HU) Berlin has drawn sharp criticism from the President of the German University Association, Bernhard Kempen. At the same time, Vollbrecht’s supervisor, Rüdiger Krahe, showed understanding for the step taken by the HU.
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The university has done academic freedom a disservice, Kempen told the German Press Agency on Monday. “Instead, she should have shown backbone and done everything to ensure that the lecture could take place,” said Kempen.
Universities are places of intellectual debate, said Kempen. “Here, every scientist must be able to put their research results, theses and views up for discussion without fear.” “Boycott, bashing, bullying or even violence must not be successful.”
After the announcement of protests, the university canceled the lecture “Sex is not (gen)sex, sex, gender and why there are two sexes in biology”, which was to be held during the Long Night of Science last Saturday, for security reasons .
Vollbrecht’s lecture can be found on YouTube and had more than 44,000 hits on Monday afternoon. She could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.
The cancellation sparked some criticism. On the other hand, PhD supervisor Krahe, Professor of Behavioral Physiology at the HU, told the Tagesspiegel that from his point of view the decision was the right one – “so as not to endanger the implementation of the other events of the Long Night of Science”. “I think the simultaneous announcement that the lecture will be made up in a different format and that there will be discussions on this topic is just as right,” added Krahe.