Peter Boghossian taught philosophy at Portland State University for a decade, and he’s just posted the resignation letter to Provost Susan Jeffords. You really should read the whole thing, which is hosted on Bari Weiss’ substack account.
Boghossian alleges that “students at Portland State are not being taught to think” and that the university “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.”
My University Sacrificed Ideas for Ideology. So Today I Quit.
— Peter Boghossian (@peterboghossian) September 8, 2021
It’s a long and fantastic letter:
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.
Boghossian also recalls an instance where he set out to prove that “morally fashionable papers — no matter how absurd — could be published”:
So, in 2017, I co-published an intentionally garbled peer-reviewed paper that took aim at the new orthodoxy. Its title: “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct.” This example of pseudo-scholarship, which was published in Cogent Social Sciences, argued that penises were products of the human mind and responsible for climate change. Immediately thereafter, I revealed the article as a hoax designed to shed light on the flaws of the peer-review and academic publishing systems.
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.
I continued to believe, perhaps naively, that if I exposed the flawed thinking on which Portland State’s new values were based, I could shake the university from its madness. In 2018 I co-published a series of absurd or morally repugnant peer-reviewed articles in journals that focused on issues of race and gender. In one of them we argued that there was an epidemic of dog rape at dog parks and proposed that we leash men the way we leash dogs. Our purpose was to show that certain kinds of “scholarship” are based not on finding truth but on advancing social grievances. This worldview is not scientific, and it is not rigorous.
Administrators and faculty were so angered by the papers that they published an anonymous piece in the student paper and Portland State filed formal charges against me. Their accusation? “Research misconduct” based on the absurd premise that the journal editors who accepted our intentionally deranged articles were “human subjects.” I was found guilty of not receiving approval to experiment on human subjects.
That’s the funny part, but the Title IX investigation and other disciplinary action certainly are not. “I wish I could say that what I am describing hasn’t taken a personal toll,” he writes. “But it has taken exactly the toll it was intended to: an increasingly intolerable working life and without the protection of tenure.”
This was my university. The student media was compromised. We were instructed CRT in mandatory trainings.
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) September 8, 2021
Clearly, @Portland_State admins privilege their own fear & ambition over the welfare of the students & professors they purport to represent. There is no “thinking” at PSU; only more of the same morally repugnant, disgusting behavior we have come to expect from such institutions.
— Jodi Shaw – Former Smith College Employee (@Smith_Surge) September 8, 2021
That's what authoritarian Left does. They concoct frivolous "investigations" seeking to discredit those who don't tote their ideology. Same thing happened to my PhD advisor.
— Vadim Bichutskiy, Stakeholder Capitalism is a Scam (@Stat4Real) September 8, 2021
"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."
— Watson (@ImWatson91) September 8, 2021
Solidarity, sir. You are one of the best of us.
— JLT (@josh_lt) September 8, 2021
Truly heartfelt and expertly articulated, and all the more tragic for its honesty. Please read.
Shame on you @Portland_State
And well done, @peterboghossian ,for illustrating that the true test of commitment to one’s principles is adhering to them when it’s hardest to do so.
— Vincent Veritas (@VeritasFirmitas) September 8, 2021
It's good to know at least some people in academia still have guts.
— Tony (Horse Paste Enjoyer) (@TenaciousGreek) September 8, 2021
A brave, eloquent letter, Peter. Best wishes for your next step.
— Christopher Haley (@cdh1001) September 8, 2021
Brilliant letter. Their loss, although they’ll never admit it and may never know it, given the level of blindness.
— Ellen Anderson (@MochaLite) September 8, 2021
Peace be upon you during this time. Your work has rekindled my interest in philosophy and I’m enjoying the journey. Thank you for your vigorous defense of truth.
— Lars Jefferson 🦛 (@JeffersonLars) September 8, 2021
I’m sorry to hear that, Dr. Boghossian. I too left my job at the high school level for the same reason. Fortunately I am now teaching at a classical charter school. What a difference! Imagine allowing students to do “battle” in the classroom over ideas! Glorious.
— Claudia Kaja (@claudiakaja) September 8, 2021
Godspeed, sir. May you find greener pastures in an ACTUAL bastion of learning somewhere soon.
— Zanarthis (@Zanarthis) September 8, 2021
He might have to relocate from Portland to find an actual bastion of learning.
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) September 3, 2021