Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, and Roman Polanski have been expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Weinstein has also been expelled by The Producers Guild of America.
Now some are asking why scientists and researchers who are credibly accused or found guilty of sexual harassment or abuse allegations aren't being kicked out of the National Academy of Sciences, just like Cosby, Weinstein, and Polanski were kicked out of their own professional organizations.
A Change.org petition is now demanding that the NAS do just that, Buzzfeed reports. The petition, which is calling for the organization to "revoke the honor of membership bestowed on individuals who have been sanctioned for sexual harassment, retaliation, and assault," is looking for 1,500 signatures. It has nearly reached 1,300.
Buzzfeed says the petition was prompted by misconduct allegations against several academy members, including cancer geneticist Inder Verma, who resigned this month as editor of PNAS after Science reported eight women accused Verma, who is also a professor and cancer research scientist at the Salk Institute, of sexual harassment.
But the NAS doesn't have any procedures for expulsion. In the most famous example of a terrible crime being no bar for continued membership, Nobel Prize winner D. Carleton Gajdusek, who was known for his work on infectious neurodegenerative diseases, pled guilty to sexually abusing a teenage boy, but remained a member of the NAS until he died in 2008, Buzzfeed notes.
Gajdusek was certainly not the only one, but petition organizer and Vanderbilt University neuroscientist BethAnn McLaughlin tells Buzzfeed that "Verma was the final straw."
NAS President Marcia McNutt tells Buzzfeed that the NAS rules were written as they are "because recognition of scientific excellence has been expected to stand the test of time, when the NAS bylaws were written they did not anticipate the need to remove a member."
McLaughlin says that needs to change, adding, "A decision had been made that these people's science was more important than the lives of the women whose lives they devastated.... It certainly speaks to how tone-deaf the academy is in thinking about sexual violence and predators."
McNutt tells Buzzfeed that the NAS is now considering whether membership rules could be changed. It would require a vote by the roughly 2,400 members.