Controversial U of T prof says plans for website on hold
University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson says online list of 'corrupt' academic disciplines to be avoided 'might add excessively to current polarization.'
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A University of Toronto professor says he’s postponing plans for a website that would showcase a list of “postmodern neo-Marxist” professors and “corrupt” academic disciplines.
The website was intended to become a list of “courses and professors and disciplines that should be avoided,” Jordan Peterson told a meeting of the University of Toronto’s Students in Support of Free Speech last June.
Peterson said these disciplines include women’s, ethnic, and racial studies. He has criticized concepts such as white privilege, fluid gender identities and political correctness in a popular YouTube lecture series.
The U of T professor wrote in a tweet posted Sunday that the project is on ice – for now.
“I considered building such a website but put plans on hiatus as I talked it over with others and decided it might add excessively to current polarization,” Peterson wrote.
Despite the statements, the idea of a website appears to have been popular with Peterson’s supporters.
A Twitter poll conducted by Peterson on Friday about building “a reasonably precise AI-based website devoted to identifying postmodern/Neomarxist courses/professors/disciplines” garnered just over 23,000 responses. Two-thirds were in favour.
A number of groups, including the University of Toronto Faculty Association, have spoken out against Peterson’s plans for a website.
On Friday, president Cynthia Messenger said in a statement 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 claimed the faculty association was “bowing to pressure from a radical minority.”
Members of the university’s Women and Gender Studies have also expressed their concern.
The university itself said it would be meeting with faculty to hear their concerns about workplace harassment – concerns that Peterson himself refuted earlier this week.
“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 told the Star. “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 has also made headlines in the past for refusing to use gender-neutral pronouns and testifying at a Senate subcommittee against a bill to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
With files from Samantha Beattie and Tamar Harris.