Eduvation Blog

2016 Headaches II: Pronouns & Poets

Last episode, Ken’s 10th annual “Year in Review” continued with a look at some of the bigger PR headaches afflicting North American colleges and universities, with a focus on cultural insensitivity and its consequences. (Think Mount St Mary’s, Missouri, Yale, Ithaca, and Harvard.) Check out Part I: Budgets & Bunnies

This week, he profiles 2 major PR migraines in more detail, which occurred at UBC and the University of Toronto. Both attracted international media attention, hundreds of articles and blogs, millions of views and outrage on both sides.

At the University of Toronto, Psychology prof Jordan Peterson ignited a firestorm by insisting that, should a gender non-binary student ever ask him to use non-standard pronouns like “ze” or “zir” or even singular “they,” he would refuse. He went on to repeat himself ever more loudly, aggressively, and insistently. Opponents called him transphobic and insensitive to human dignity. He called them biology-deniers and left-wing social justice warriors. The debate continues well into 2017.

Video clips:
Jordan Peterson on why pronouns aren’t about respect. Davie Addison.
Jordan Peterson speaks at University of Toronto protest. Genuinewitty
Genders, Rights and Freedom of Speech. TVO’s Agenda with Steve Paikin.
University of Toronto Free Speech Debate. Jordan B Peterson.

At UBC, the Galloway Affair was unquestionably the heavyweight champion headache of the year. It started in November 2015, when the university temporarily suspended the head of its creative writing department, bestselling novelist Steven Galloway. The official announcement of “serious allegations” made thinly-veiled references to campus “safety,” and advised “counseling” for anyone affected. Throughout 2016 there were media exposés, and the rumour mill generated tales of bullying, sexual harassment, threats, and more. UBC appointed a former BC Supreme Court Justice to lead an impartial investigation. After 5 months, her report dismissed all but one complaint against Galloway, but still resulted in his termination for a “record of misconduct that resulted in an irreparable breach of trust.” Major donors withheld funds, renowned authors like Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje called for another investigation, and witnesses for the complainant objected that the process had been unfair. A grievance from the UBC Faculty Association is heading into arbitration shortly.

Video clip:
Global News

Watch the video for all the details! More great content is coming up next week – please subscribe or follow on any of a dozen platforms so you don’t miss it!

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