U of T prof’s proposed website would target professors teaching women’s and ethnic studies
“The upside to launching it is that students who lack the information to determine what’s driving the professors who are teaching them would be able to be informed by the website,” Peterson said.
“Now, if they wanted to take, let’s call them radical left social justice-oriented courses, and they entered the course material into the website … then you could use the site to identify those sorts of courses. If you don’t want to take them, then you wouldn’t have to.”
University of Toronto Faculty Association president Cynthia Messenger said in a statement Friday that the association “has taken the unprecedented step of asking that the entire executive meet with the provost’s office to express our deep concern about this threat to our members and to the academic mission of the university.”
Peterson said that if “what the faculty association did today was an attempt to intimidate me into not doing it, you can be bloody sure that they’ve failed completely.”
The faculty association is “bowing to pressure from a radical minority,” Peterson added.
“It isn’t obvious to me, at least, that providing students with more information about the courses that they’re going to take and their philosophical underpinnings actually constitutes a reprehensible move.”
Peterson said he did not know why the proposed website was being brought up now.
“I talked about this three months ago, so I’m not exactly sure why it’s become such a storm at the moment,” he said. “But I would think, strategically speaking, the faculty association and the people who are pushing them might have waited until there was actually a website.
“Generally you go after someone when they’ve actually done something, not merely talked about potentially doing it.”
Peterson explained: “I’m not happy with the fact that a huge chunk of the humanities and the social sciences have turned into an indoctrination cult. So I thought, well, the students need to be informed. Because they don’t have the information necessary to make an informed choice, and this would help them make an informed choice.
“But then I also thought, well, it’s conceivable that this will add to the polarization that’s already reaching … I don’t know if dangerous proportions is right, but it’s close to that. So I’ve been shuffling back and forth between those two perspectives for the last three months. And so I’ve just put it in stasis.”
Members of the university’s Women and Gender Studies Institute sent a letter to Messenger and several other U of T faculty members last week, drawing their attention to the proposed website.
“The website, if launched, presents a serious case of harassment, fostering unsafe work and study conditions for students, faculty and staff,” said Rinaldo Walcott, the centre’s director, and Prof. Michelle Murphy.
U of T spokesperson Althea Blackburn-Evans said the university is aware of the letter sent to faculty last week and the issues it raises.
“We are meeting with faculty to hear their concerns,” she said in an email. “U of T has policies and procedures that address workplace harassment and health and safety.”
Peterson told the Star that no one has been harassed.
“Now, the question is, could you make a case that linking professors to a site that describes the content of their courses constitutes harassment?” he said. “I’m sure people would make that case; that’s the case they’re making right now. Whether that’s a valid case or not is a completely different story.”
Peterson said that if somebody made a website describing the content of his courses, “that wouldn’t bother me.”
He added that the faculty association “has probably forgotten that they also have an obligation to defend me, since I’m part of the faculty association.”
In October, Peterson tweeted the Facebook profiles of two people he claimed shut down his free speech event, calling one, a former U of T student, an “agitator” and another a “communist.”
This summer, the Star reported that Peterson was earning nearly $50,000 per month through the crowdfunding website Patreon. He launched the campaign last March to help support his YouTube videos.
With files from Tamar Harris