NATHAN CHAN/THE VARSITY

Since gaining international media attention for his YouTube lecture series on gender and political correctness, Psychology Professor Jordan Peterson has seen a spike in donations to his Patreon account.

Peterson has been soliciting donations from Patreon, a website that allows supporters of its members to contribute a recurring monthly amount, since March 18, 2016. The page was initially established to facilitate donations to support his creation of YouTube lectures on psychology.

Since the first video on political correctness was released on September 27, his earnings per month through Patreon have increased over 500 per cent, from $1,177.17 to $8,134.23. The number of patrons has also increased significantly, from 180 to 784 as of press time.

Peterson stated in a comment to The Varsity that with the money, he is “trying to determine how to best use YouTube for educational purposes, and to improve the videos” that he has been uploading.

At press time, Peterson had not uploaded a video on psychology since the release of his political correctness videos.

Users of the site can increase monthly goals that will allow them to create new content. When Peterson opened his account, his goal was to raise $1,000 a month which he would use to transcribe his lectures.

After that goal was reached, he sought $2,000 a month to create a home video studio and “concentrate on producing more YouTube videos.” Currently, Peterson is seeking $10,000 a month, so that he can hire “two cameramen, with the proper equipment” to record his classes next year.

A portion of Peterson’s Patreon page states, “The additional financial support helps me remain confident that I can remain independent in my thinking and less vulnerable to institutional pressure, should that be brought to bear.”

When asked to elaborate on this, Peterson replied that he had “no idea how stable” his position at U of T is. He referenced the letters he received from Vice-Provost, Faculty and Academic Life Sioban Nelson, Arts and Science Dean David Cameron, and Department of Psychology Chair Susanne Ferber.

“That speaks for itself. I’m not counting on any stability in my job whatsoever given recent events,” he said.

Peterson is a tenured professor; the university describes it in its policy on professional appointments as: “the holding by a member of the professorial staff of the University of a continuing full-time appointment which the University has relinquished the freedom to terminate before the normal age of retirement except for cause,” or other extenuating circumstances which the policy describes as grounds for termination.

An hour after the initial statement was sent to The Varsity, Peterson expressed frustration at this newspaper’s pursuit of this article. “Here’s an idea, why don’t you do a story on the fact that my YouTube channel, prior to this political firestorm, had already attracted a million viewers? That means I brought advanced psychology knowledge to a million people – free,” he said in the email.

He continued: “But you can’t do that, because you are so blinded by your damnable ideology that you muckrake instead. Why do good, when you can advance your ideological presumptions, and find someone to hate?”

The site also allows Patrons to collect different rewards, based on the amount of their monthly contribution. One of the rewards that Peterson offers is a set of login credentials to the SelfAuthoring Suite, a psychology website created by Peterson that aims to help users perform an “in-depth analysis of [their] own personality.” Patrons that contribute $10.00 a month are also rewarded with a copy of his book.

Those who contribute amounts of $50.00 or more per month are additionally rewarded with a conversation with Peterson via video chat. Currently, 27 people contribute an amount of $50 or more to Peterson’s page monthly.

In addition to the Patreon page, Peterson has been selling “Pokemon PC” sticker sets in sheets of 50 for $12.94 plus $4.95 shipping or sheets of 100 for $19.95 plus $4.95 shipping on eBay. According to Peterson, the stickers are being sold “for their printing price plus the cost of the administrative work and postage required on top of that.” Peterson did not clarify what is included in the cost of administrative work, when asked.

The stickers are intended to accompany an upcoming app that mimics the popular Pokémon Go app. Those that purchase the stickers are invited to “look for posters that advertise the PC Game” and then paste a sticker onto the poster. Then, players can upload photos of their handiwork to the app. Peterson confirmed that the app would be free.

Peterson declined further requests for comment on the Pokemon PC game, telling The Varsity, “You’re clearly searching for a reason to discredit what I’m doing and who I am. Why would I participate in that?”

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