Following a long controversy over the last semester, U of T psychology professor Jordan Peterson returned to teaching earlier this January.
During a debate held last November, Peterson had stated that the Canadian government might “come after his clinical license” for his refusal to recognize genderless pronouns in his online lectures.
When asked if an agreement has been reached prior to his return, U of T’s director of media relations, Althea Blackburn-Evans, stated in an interview with The Medium, “He’s a professor, and like any professor, he’s entitled to his own views and to share those views.”
“At the same time, as with all faculty members, [Peterson] must create a learning environment in his classroom that’s free from discrimination,” she added. “That’s not specific with professor Peterson, it’s the same for all faculty members.”
Blackburn-Evans further explained the importance of balancing freedom of speech and the responsibility that freedom entails. “The academic freedom is alive and well in the University of Toronto, as it would be in any university. Faculty members have the right to share their views and express them, and sometimes those views are controversial, but they have the responsibility to ensure they foster a learning environment free of discrimination.”
Cassandra Williams, UTSU’s VP university affairs told The Medium that it is “abhorrent” to have Peterson permitted back in the teaching stream “despite having repeatedly insisted that he will discriminate against and sexually harass his trans students, and despite having participated in the targeted harassment of a trans student.” Williams further explained that by “sexually harass,” she means that when “Peterson deliberately mis-genders students, he is committing gender-based harassment,” which she referred to as a “subcategory” for sexual harassment.
Williams criticized the university’s decision, saying that it is taking action “in contempt of trans students.”
“Administrators at the university have consistently ignored issues of discrimination and violence against trans persons at the university, including assaults, mistreatment by campus police, targeted harassment, and broader human rights issues,” said Williams.
The Medium was unable to reach Blackburn-Evans for further comment regarding Williams claims, as of press time.
As previously reported by The Medium, Peterson’s controversial statements had attracted wide national coverage from CBC, Toronto Star, National Post, and several others.
Peterson did not respond to The Medium’s requests for comment on his return, as of press time.