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College math professor asks for ideas on how to advance ‘social justice’ in math textbooks


'Please let this be satire'

Photo by Oleksandr Rupeta/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A mathematics professor at Williams College is soliciting ideas on how to advance "social justice" in a new series of math textbooks.

What are the details?

The professor, Chad Topaz, posted on Twitter Tuesday regarding the potential that he will be asked to join the editorial board for the unnamed book series.

If offered, Topaz said he would accept the post only "in order to advance #socialjustice."

For those understandably confused as to how exactly social justice might relate to the study of mathematics, Topaz offered a few ideas to get the ball rolling. "Free texts? Social justice content? Required 'inclusive teaching' component of book proposal?" he suggested, before adding, "Go nuts ..."

The College Fix, in its coverage of the story, noted several harsh responses to Topaz on Twitter:

"Reject the offer. That is all," one user wrote.

Another said: "Please let this be satire."

Others wrote: "try teaching math," "activism isn't math," "is this a parody account?" and "how about teaching math & losing the cancerous SJW nonsense?"

Anything else?

Topaz — who describes himself as a "social-justice-oriented professor of applied math/data science" and "gay, gay, gay" in his Twitter bio — was at the center of a controversy surrounding "diversity statements" in academia last month, the College Fix also reported.

Diversity statements, which are documents explaining one's experiences and commitments to diversity, are increasingly becoming required by universities for those applying for faculty positions.

Topaz allegedly drummed up opposition to Abigail Thompson, a math professor at University of California-Davis and vice president of the American Mathematical Society, after she wrote an essay denouncing the use of diversity statements as "a political test" used to screen for job applicants.

In a post on his Facebook account, which has since been deleted, Topaz called Thompson's essay a "travesty" and a "grave and very damaging disgrace."

"I don't know why Abigail Thompson would think this stuff, nor why the American Mathematical Society would publish it," he said, urging others to publicly shame Thompson's employer, UC Davis, and writing that he would discourage his students from attending the school.

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