Petition launched to reinstate Jordan Peterson’s visiting fellowship
A change.org petition calling for the Faculty of Divinity to reinstate the offer has emerged
The petition, which has been circulating amongst students, asserts that Cambridge University has a duty “not to make politically-influenced decisions or yield to pressure.” It denies that Peterson promotes lack of tolerance, and criticises former statements made by the university, claiming that “if it is true that Cambridge University is inclusive… it is an absurd notion that he would not be welcome due to personal views, on topics that he would not even be there to speak about.” The petitioners also demand that their views be heard due to it being taxpayers “who fund public education”.
This follows the release of a statement last week, from the Faculty of Divinity, condemning the online abuse which academics and students have received following the decision to rescind the offer of a visiting fellowship to Jordan Peterson.
Within the statement, Ian McFarland, Regius Professor of Divinity, asserts that the Faculty remain firm on their decision, despite the controversy surrounding it. The abuse is described as “totally unacceptable”, and McFarland demands that “attacks against people outside of the Faculty who were in no way involved in our decision…must cease”.
Jordan Peterson, the self-proclaimed ‘professor against political correctness’, is renowned for his controversial stances on issues including climate change, gender identity and freedom of speech. He gained notoriety in September 2016 after condemning a developing amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act, which would prohibit workplace discrimination on the grounds of expression of gender identity. He has since claimed white privilege is a “Marxist lie”, described the idea that women have been oppressed throughout history as an “appalling theory” and refused to use pronouns other than ‘he’ or ‘she’.
These developments come in the wake of the controversial series of events which began on the 18th of March when Peterson announced in a YouTube video his intentions to visit the Faculty for two months in October 2019, after being granted a visiting fellowship.
However, this was retracted by the university after further review, on the basis that “[Cambridge] is an inclusive environment” which refused to accommodate those who did uphold their principles. A statement released on the 25th of March further clarified that this decision was taken after a photo of Peterson posing with a man with a t-shirt reading ‘I’m a proud Islamophobe’ was considered.
Students and academics alike took to Twitter to voice their views. Some deemed it “censorship” and “shameful” whilst some supported the decision, such as Dr Priyamvada Gopal. However, she later claimed in a series of tweets that she had been victim of “trolling, abuse and defamation”, describing the nature of some of the abuse as “outright racist”. She further criticised the University for being complacent about this, which is also thought to have prompted the release of the statement.