Ariel went to her first math colloquium last week. It was on differential equations, oscillations and Euler DEs. Honestly, I thought, “YAWN!” But Ariel was excited—she knows a bit about DE and was invited to attend.
When she arrived, she was the first person there. The lecturer (from a country we won’t name, but let’s just say it’s not a democracy) greeted Ariel. He wanted to know if she taught at UTC. No. Are you a grad student? No. He demanded (with condescension) to know if she’d studied DE. Ariel said, “Yes.” He said, “You must be a senior.” No. He refused to believe her that she’d even done calc 1,2, and 3 let alone DE, which is lame because DE is one of the last lower division classes a math major takes. So things aren’t looking good for a man we will now call, Dr. Jerk.
More people arrived, and Dr. J began his lecture. It was interesting, at least it was to Ariel, and had to do with oscillations and their implications for nuclear physics (particularly nuclear bombs—I wonder if the State Department knows about this guy). After the brief talk, Dr. Jerk went on to discuss the glories of his homeland. Ariel pondered asking him about his country’s multitudinous human rights’ violations, but she decided it wasn’t the proper venue. Someone did ask about working in a dictatorship, he described it as a familial relationship. Right, paternalism as a justification for political abuses. Hmmm.
A very nice professor, who was born in Nigeria, asked some questions. The lecturer answered a few and dodged others—it was clear he didn’t know the all answers. Ariel exchanged glances with her DE professor who smiled and waved. The lecturer, clearly unhinged by his own ignorance, went on to disparage the Nigerian professor’s personal finances, his home country, and implied moral turpitude on the part of all Nigerians.
As if racism wasn’t enough, Dr. Jerk made a snide comment to Ariel (the only woman present) during the lecture. He publicly told her that he could give her advice on how to marry a rich husband. Yep. Total racist, sexist loser. It might be wise if the math department screened the invitees a bit more strictly next time.