LONDON, ENGLAND - Student groups at the London School of Economics are calling for the dismissal of a social scientist who has become embroiled in a racism row after claiming that a study showed black women to be less attractive than women of other races, The Guardian reports.
Dr Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the institution, published his comments on a blog and claimed he had analysed data from an online study of physical attractiveness.
In his article for Psychology Today, Kanazawa wrote: "Black women are … far less attractive than white, Asian, and Native American women." The piece drew a barrage of complaints from readers and has since been removed from the site.
The row has prompted the University of London Union Senate, the union's legislative body, which represents more than 120,000 students, to vote unanimously for the dismissal of Kanazawa, and to condemn his research.
Sherelle Davids, anti-racism officer-elect of the LSE students' union, said: "Kanazawa deliberately manipulates findings that justify racist ideology. As a black woman I feel his conclusions are a direct attack on black women everywhere who are not included in social ideas of beauty."
Amena Amer, incoming LSE students' union education officer, added: "We support free speech and academic freedom, but Kanazawa's research fuels hate against ethnic and religious minorities promoted by neo-Nazi groups. Not only does he use the LSE's credentials to legitimise his 'research' but this jeopardises the academic credibility of the LSE."
The LSE launched an internal investigation into Kanazawa's comments after senior academics at the school, including the new director, Judith Rees, received letters of complaint over the remarks. Dr Kanazawa is abroad on sabbatical this year.
The incident is the latest embarrassment for the LSE, following the resignation of previous director Sir Howard Davies, in March after admitting that the institution's reputation had been damaged by the acceptance of a £1.5m donation from a foundation controlled by Muammar Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam.
The investigation will look at the data Kanazawa analysed and the quality of his work, before deciding what punitive action, if any, it can take.
In a statement, the LSE sought to distance itself from the researcher's comments, but acknowledged freedom of academic expression.
"The views expressed by this academic are his own and do not in any way represent those of the LSE as an institution. The important principle of academic freedom means that authors have the right to publish their views – but it also means the freedom to disagree. We are conducting internal investigations into this matter," the statement said.
Kanazawa has been criticised in the past for substandard research in the area of race and intelligence.