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On its website page on Values, Vision, and Mission, Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, prides itself on a commitment to several aspects of critical thinking, debate, scholarly exploration of new ideas and so on.
That mission statement is being questioned by some editorialists after an incident involving a teaching assistant. University student Lindsay Shepherd, 22, leads tutorials on language use for first year communications students in a class called “Canadian Communication in Context”.
In it she showed a short, three to five minute clip of a publicly broadcast TV Ontario show in which award-winning psychology professor Jordan Peterson who is against forced use of genderless and “made-up” pronouns, like “ze, and zir” amongst others, debated the issue with Nicholas Matte, a lecturer at the University of Toronto’s Sexual Diversity Studies programme.
Dr Peterson has become the centre of politically motivated controversy for his stance.
In an email to RCI, Peterson wrote, “It was Nicholas Matte who claimed during that debate that ‘there is no biological difference between men and women.’ Apparently believing that to be patently untrue makes me Hitler, in the eyes of certain WLU professors”.
Shepherd said following the airing of the clip a lively but friendly debate ensued. “I thought it went really well”, she said.
But then a person or persons, the university refuses to say, complained.
The university called Shepherd to a meeting with her supervisor, the communications programme coordinator, and the acting manager of the “Gendered Violence Prevention and Support” programme.
She was accused of creating a “toxic climate” and that by airing the clip without condemning Dr Peterson’s position outright that she was “legitimizing” his views and that it was equivalent to “neutrally playing a speech by Hitler”.
According to one report the meeting left her in tears. She was told her lesson plans must be submitted in advance and she fears the job which helps pay for her Master’s studies might be taken away.
Quoted by the Waterloo Record she says, “”if this trend continues of radical leftist indoctrination, I’m not really interested in being a part of that. Universities are no longer places where ideas may freely circulate (…) where one can engage with controversial ideas. They are echo chambers for left-wing ideology”,
The university has said it has now engaged a neutral third party to investigate and gather facts.
Additional information- sources
- Speaker Spotlight- Jordan Peterson (PhD)
- The Waterloo Record: L D’Amato: Nov 14/17: censured for TVO clip
- Canadian Press (via Star) M McQuigge: Nov 16/17: WLU independent probe
- Toronto Star: DM Haskell: Nov 15/17: Op-Ed- Stifling free speech
- Post Media: C Blatchford: Nov 10/17: Thought police strike again
- Globe and Mail: Op-Ed: Nov 16/17: killing critical thinking
- TVO-DEBATE- Full Show
- TVO DEBATE- 10 min (youTube)
- RCI- Nov 2016: a professor under siege