The University of Cambridge canceled Jordan Peterson’s appointment to a fellowship position over a photo of him and a fan who was wearing an anti-Islam t-shirt.
— GOB Radio and News Portal (@gobnewsportal) March 26, 2019
The University of Cambridge rescinded a visiting fellowship position from Jordan Peterson last week. Peterson was scheduled to assume a fellowship position at Cambridge’s Divinity College in the fall. Peterson claimed in a blog post that he was informed by friends at the university that administrators had rescinded the fellowship offer.
The Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen J. Toope explained the decision to rescind the offer in a statement that was published on Monday. In the statement, Toope said that administrators were motivated by a photo of Peterson and a fan. In the photo, the fan is wearing a shirt that reads “I’m a Proud Islamaphobe (sic).”
Early last week, the Faculty became aware of a photograph of Professor Peterson posing with his arm around a man wearing a T-shirt that clearly bore the slogan “I’m a proud Islamophobe”. The casual endorsement by association of this message was thought to be antithetical to the work of a Faculty that prides itself in the advancement of inter-faith understanding.
As a consequence of this, the Faculty’s Research Committee reviewed its original decision to award a visiting fellowship and concluded that the offer should be rescinded. As is normal, neither the decision to invite Professor Peterson, nor to rescind the invitation, were brought to the attention of the senior leadership team until after they had been made.
Toobe subtly suggests that the photo makes Peterson unfit to teach at Cambridge’s Divinity College. At the end of the statement, Toobe refers to a statement that he published 10 years ago when he worked at the University of British Columbia. In the statement, Toobe suggests that some ideas make it harder for a free marketplace of ideas to thrive.
“For a university, anything that detracts from the free expression of ideas is just not acceptable. Robust debate can scarcely occur, for example, when some members of the community are made to feel personally attacked, not for their ideas but for their very identity,” Toobe wrote.
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