Status Report

NASA ARC Internal memo: Message from the Center Director ISU Ceremony Comments

By SpaceRef Editor
July 7, 2009
Filed under ,
NASA ARC Internal memo: Message from the Center Director ISU Ceremony Comments

Subject: ISU Ceremony Comments
From: Centerwide Announcement
Date: Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Message from the Center Director
ISU Ceremony Comments

Several Ames employees attended the opening ceremony of the International Space University (ISU) and Singularity University (SU) in Mountain View on Monday, June 29, 2009. While this was not a NASA event, I wanted to share with you the views of ISU President, Michael K. Simpson, on some remarks that might have offended some that were present. I want to underscore that NASA is working hard to ensure that events, views and statements, even those not meant to be demeaning, do not occur and are not condoned.

From Michael K. Simpson, President, ISU:

“Amidst all the excitement and positive energy of this great first week, I want to take the time to share with you [items] that did not go the way I would have liked and from which I think we can all take a lesson in the spirit of ISU’s 3i philosophy.

[This] involved the remarks made during our opening ceremony likening Californians to “fruits and nuts.” Were California a country, it would be one of the larger ones in the world. Its population is diverse, energetic and often outspoken. These positive factors were certainly high in our mind when we selected California to be an SSP site not only now but once before as well. Unfortunately, some of our guests at the Opening Ceremony justifiably took offense at this phrasing even if it was apparently intended by our Master of Ceremonies to be humorous. Some of the offense was taken by Californians who were offended to be characterized as crazy since “fruity” and “nutty” in slang English can convey this meaning, and some of the offense was taken by people objecting to the implied slight to the gay and lesbian population since the term “fruit” in slang English can be used as an insulting reference to this group.

In a diverse world, we all need to be careful with both the intended meaning of what we say and with the possible misinterpretations as well. The latter cannot always be avoided, but in the case of the remarks at our Opening Ceremony they should have been. Although the remarks were not made by anyone associated with ISU or SU, I have apologized to the Center Director at Ames since we, ISU, were the host of the opening ceremony. For us the lesson is that words are powerful and in a diverse community one needs to be as sensitive to how they might be heard as to what we intended them to mean.”

Thank you for your help in ensuring that NASA Ames Research Center continues to be a community that not only values and respects diversity but does so in action and deed.

S. Pete Worden
Center Director

SpaceRef staff editor.