Portland State professor resigns, calling university a ‘social justice factory’, says ‘intellectual exploration’ is ‘impossible’

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PORTLAND, OR Peter Boghossian, an associate professor who has taught philosophy at Portland State University for the past decade, resigned Wednesday, saying the university has made “intellectual exploration impossible.”

In his resignation letter submitted to Provost Susan Jeffords, Boghossian wrote:

“I never once believed —  nor do I now —  that the purpose of instruction was to lead my students to a particular conclusion.

Rather, I sought to create the conditions for rigorous thought; to help them gain the tools to hunt and furrow for their own conclusions. This is why I became a teacher and why I love teaching.

“Brick by brick, the university has made this kind of intellectual exploration impossible.

It has transformed a bastion of free inquiry into a social justice factory whose only inputs were race, gender, and victimhood and whose only outputs were grievance and division.”

Boghossian often invited lecturers from many schools of thought to talk in front of his students during his ten-year tenure with the university. He wrote that he did so to expand the thought and questioning of his students:

“Over the last decade, it has been my privilege to teach at the university. My specialties are critical thinking, ethics, and the Socratic method, and I teach classes like Science and Pseudoscience and The Philosophy of Education.

But in addition to exploring classic philosophers and traditional texts, I’ve invited a wide range of guest lecturers to address my classes, from Flat-Earthers to Christian apologists to global climate skeptics to Occupy Wall Street advocates. I’m proud of my work.

“I invited those speakers not because I agreed with their worldviews, but primarily because I didn’t. From those messy and difficult conversations, I’ve seen the best of what our students can achieve: questioning beliefs while respecting believers; staying even-tempered in challenging circumstances; and even changing their minds.”

He said that he began receiving push back from the university when be began publicly questioning “social justice factories”:

“At first, I didn’t realize how systemic this was and I believed I could question this new culture. So, I began asking questions. What is the evidence that trigger warnings and safe spaces contribute to student learning?

Why should racial consciousness be the lens through which we view our role as educators? How did we decide that “cultural appropriation” is immoral?

“Unlike my colleagues, I asked these questions out loud and in public… the more I spoke out about these issues, the more retaliation I faced.”

He said in the 2016-17 academic year, a former student lodged a complaint against him which turned into a Title IX investigation. It was concluded that Boghossian did not violate PSU’s discrimination and harassment policy, though it was recommended that he receive coaching, he said.

Boghossian made headlines as part of a three-man team that went public in 2018 with a project rooting out what members describe as political bias in academic publishing. The academics posed as gender studies scholars and submitted hoax papers to journals to see if they’d get published and succeeded in several cases.

Publishing journals included Gender, Place and Culture, Hypatia, Sex Roles, Fat Studies, Journal of Poetry Therapy, Affilia, and Sexuality & Culture. Accepted papers include those on an adaptation of Mein Kampf, “fat bodybuilding” and monitoring “rape culture” via “dog-humping incidents” at parks in Oregon.

Boghossian was the only one of three researchers on the project to hold a full-time academic position, and Portland State University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) determined he committed research misconduct.

The university claimed the journal editors and reviewers tricked by the hoax papers were “human subjects” being researched, and that type of study required approval.

A determination letter from the university read:

“University policy requires that all research involving human subjects conducted by faculty, other employees and students (on campus) must have prior review and approval by the IRB.”

In the resignation letter, Boghossian wrote that he faced threats and harassment for his work, and the university did nothing except come after him:

“Shortly thereafter, swastikas in the bathroom with my name under them began appearing in two bathrooms near the philosophy department.

They also occasionally showed up on my office door, in one instance accompanied by bags of feces. Our university remained silent. When it acted, it was against me, not the perpetrators.

“For me, the years that followed were marked by continued harassment. I’d find flyers around campus of me with a Pinocchio nose.

I was spit on and threatened by passersby while walking to class. I was informed by students that my colleagues were telling them to avoid my classes. And, of course, I was subjected to more investigation.”

In concluding his resignation letter, he wrote that freedom to question is a fundamental right, and unlike Portland State University, educational institutions should remind students that the right is also a duty:

“Portland State University has failed in fulfilling this duty. In doing so it has failed not only its students but the public that supports it. While I am grateful for the opportunity to have taught at Portland State for over a decade, it has become clear to me that this institution is no place for people who intend to think freely and explore ideas.

“This is not the outcome I wanted. But I feel morally obligated to make this choice. For ten years, I have taught my students the importance of living by your principles. One of mine is to defend our system of liberal education from those who seek to destroy it. Who would I be if I didn’t?”

In a statement, the university said:                      

“Portland State has always been and will continue to be a welcoming home for free speech and academic freedom.

“We believe that those practices are not in conflict with our core institutional values of student success; racial justice and equity; and proactive engagement with our community.”

The university refused to comment on Boghossian’s resignation specifically, calling it a “personnel matter.”

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LET Unity
University spends $50k to remove a rock that triggered students, claiming it reminded them of the past

August 8, 2021

 

 The following contains partial editorial content which is the opinion of the author. 

MADISON, WI- Simply put, you cannot make this stuff up. Apparently, rocks are now “racist.” At least that was the allegation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where the university spent in the neighborhood of $50,000 to remove a rock that is likely billions of years old because—racism.

According to the Post-Millennial, the rock, called the “Chamberlin Rock,” which has been sitting on Observatory Hill since 1925, has been removed from university property. Seriously we are at a time when people are offended by a flipping rock.

Apparently the rock was referenced by some kind of derogatory nickname for a large rock around 85 years ago.

The rock, dated at around two billion years old, is an example of the pre-Cambrian era, defined by scientists as the largest span of time in Earth’s history prior to the current Phanerozoic Eon, according to Science Direct.

The rock was dedicated as a monument to honor Thomas Chamberlin, a geologist who served as president of the university between 1887-1892.

Last November, a group of students who apparently spent more time being offended than actually engaging in their studies, claimed the rock was a reminder of so-called “past and present injustices faced by students of color.”

The chancellor of the university, Rebecca Blank apparently bought into it. The Wisconsin Black Student Union, in partnership with Wunk Sheek, the Native American student organization pushed for the rock’s removal.

“It took courage and commitment for the Wisconsin Black Student Union to bring this issue forward and to influence change alongside UW’s Wunk Sheek student leaders,” Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor said.

“In the midst of demands for justice following George Floyd’s murder last summer, the students wanted change on campus, and they worked hard to see this through. While the decision required compromise, I’m proud of the student leaders and the collaboration it too to get here.”

“Courage and commitment?” To move a rock? How are these whiny snowflakes going to survive in the real world?

The former president of the Wisconsin Black Student Union, senior Nalah McWhorter watched as the dream of having the racist rock removed took place on Friday morning.

“It was very meaningful for me to be there and to see the process all the way through to the end,” McWhorter said wistfully. “It was about a year ago that we released our demands and met with the chancellor and explained to her why those demands meant so much to us. It was a powerful moment today to see this demand come full circle.”

McWhorter is hoping the rock’s removal will inspire other students to advocate for change on campus. Perhaps next they can move some offensive flowers, or perhaps have all the trees removed from campus, since in the Jim Crow south lynchings occurred from trees. You know, racism and all. 

“I see this as offering the next generation of students something to build off of,” she said. “We got this project going, and now the next round of students can continue to work on the other demands and come up with other ideas. We hope this movement and this momentum carries on.”

There was a plaque affixed to the offensive, racist rock which was removed. A new plaque honoring Chamberlin will be placed in Chamberlin Hall on campus.

Historians at the university were unable to find any evidence that the racist term attached to the racist rock was used by the university in any capacity.
 

 

 

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