British journalist subject to online threats following interview with Jordan Peterson

Peterson says threats and criticism not the same, calls on Twitter followers to stop making threats

British journalist subject to online threats following interview with Jordan Peterson

 

U of T psychology professor Jordan Peterson has attracted controversy after appearing in an interview with Cathy Newman of UK news channel Channel 4 News, in which he debated gender equality, transgender rights, and free speech.

Since the interview was posted on January 16, Newman has been the subject of gender-based abuse and threats on social media, which has led Channel 4 to conduct a risk analysis by security experts.

When questioned about his refusal to use transgender pronouns, Peterson said, “I actually never got in trouble for not calling anyone anything,” and he added that he had instead refused to “follow the compelled speech dictates” of government.

The interview has received over 4 million online views since it aired, and it has garnered strong reactions against Newman on social media. A Channel 4 News spokesperson said that “immediate steps” have been taken to “ensure [Newman’s] safety and security.” The nature of the threats against her or specific measures taken, however, have not been specified.

Channel 4 editor Ben de Pear tweeted that he would “not hesitate to get the police involved if necessary.”

In an email to The Varsity, Peterson wrote that “Channel 4 should make the ‘threats’ public so that the public can judge their validity.”

“Criticism and threats are not the same thing, and as far as I know there has been no police involvement,” said Peterson.

On Twitter, Peterson has called on his followers to stop threatening Newman if they were doing so, saying, “Try to be civilized in your criticism. It was words. Words, people, words. Remember those?”

A Twitter search failed to unearth direct threats against Newman. Two Twitter comments reacting to the debate said “RIP Cathy Newman.” Around 10 tweets since January 16 have leveled slurs against the interviewer. One Twitter user collated comments on the YouTube video and found over 750 comments using misogynistic slurs.

During the interview, Newman also pressed Peterson on his views on the gender pay gap, noting that wage disparities made it seem to many women “that they’re still being dominated and excluded.”

“I didn’t deny [the gap] existed, I denied it existed because of gender,” said Peterson in his interview with Newman. “There is prejudice… But it accounts for a much smaller proportion of the variance in the pay gap than the radical feminists claim.”

“Agreeable people get paid less,” said Peterson. “Women are more agreeable than men.”

“So why not get them to ask for a pay rise?” asked Newman. Peterson replied that he had successfully provided assertiveness training to female professionals in his clinical practice “many, many times.”

When Newman asked why Peterson’s right to free speech trumped the rights of transgender people not to be offended, Peterson responded, “You’re certainly willing to risk offending me in the pursuit of truth. Why should you have the right to do that?”

He added that, as a journalist, she was “digging a bit… that’s what you should do.”

Peterson appeared in the interview as part of an international tour to promote his new self-help book, 12 Rules for Life.

 

U of T’s biggest stories of 2017

The Varsity looks back at the defining headlines of last year

U of T’s biggest stories of 2017

JENNA MOON/THE VARSITY

Toronto and U of T organized against Trump after his inauguration

Following Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States, protests broke out in Toronto and around the world in opposition.

Trump’s actions have had a direct effect on members of the U of T community. One of his first major acts was an executive order on immigration, which limited the country’s intake of refugees, as well as visitors and immigrants from certain majority-Muslim countries.

Joudy Sarraj, last year’s Trinity College Female Head of Non-Resident Affairs, told The Varsity that she would have been impacted had she not had dual Canadian-Syrian citizenship. In the wake of this executive order, a protest took place on University Avenue in front of the US Consulate, attended by a number of U of T students.

Eliminating staff positions at the UTSU was a promise the Demand Better slate ran on. TOM YUN/THE VARSITY

UTSU: Demand Better dominated, two staff members laid off, Hudson lawsuit settled

The Demand Better slate, led by Mathias Memmel, won the majority of executive positions and board seats in the March 2017 UTSU elections. The slate ran on a platform focused on fixing the union after years of mismanagement. Within the fall 2017 semester, two executives, Vice-President University Affairs Carina Zhang and Vice-President Campus Life Stuart Norton, resigned for personal reasons, and they have since been replaced.

Demand Better executives also fulfilled their campaign promise of cutting back salary expenses, laying off two full-time staff members who oversaw clubs and health plans. This stirred controversy in the student body; opponents claimed that clubs and student services would be negatively affected, though the UTSU argued that they would not be.

The UTSU also settled a two-year lawsuit with Sandra Hudson, the union’s former Executive Director, who they alleged committed civil fraud. The UTSU was seeking $277,726.40, which was initially given to Hudson as part of a compensation package when her contract was terminated, and an additional $200,000 in damages.

Details of the settlement are undisclosed but have drawn the ire of several board members and Vice-President External Anne Boucher.

Trinity students have clashed with their college administration over two alleged assaults and a ban on alcohol-licensed events. STEVEN LEE/THE VARSITY

Trinity student alleged assault, TCM vote of no confidence against administrators

In September, Trinity College student Bardia Monavari, Co-Head of College, alleged that he was verbally and physically assaulted by Campus Police following a residence party. Monavari placed the blame on college administrators Adam Hogan and Christine Cerullo, who he said refused to intervene when they saw the alleged assault.

Soon after, the Trinity College Meeting, Trinity’s direct democracy student government, passed a near-unanimous vote of no confidence in the Office of the Dean of Students. The motion signalled the disappointment of students in Trinity’s response to Monavari’s alleged assault, as well as the alleged mishandling of Tamsyn Riddle’s sexual assault case. Riddle filed a human rights application against both Trinity College and U of T. Since the vote, Provost Mayo Moran has banned alcohol at college events, and the Office of the Dean of Students and the college heads have been using an external facilitator in mediation meetings.

Thousands of college students in Ontario were out of school during the five-week faculty strike. PHOTO BY CONNOR MALBEUF, COURTESY OF THE GAZETTE

College strike affected U of T’s partner schools, campus unions secured strike mandates

Faculty at colleges in Ontario went on strike for close to a month, following failed negotiations with the College Employer Council over job security and academic freedom in classrooms. This affected UTSC and UTM students enrolled in joint programs with Centennial College and Sheridan College, respectively. After faculty rejected a tentative agreement, the strike ended when the provincial government enacted back-to-work legislation. This forced faculty to return and for any other unresolved issues to be decided in binding arbitration.

Meanwhile, labour unions at U of T began preparing for negotiations as their tentative agreements with the university expire. Sessional lecturers, under CUPE Local 3902 Unit 3, voted 91 per cent in favour of a strike mandate. The main topics included wage increases and improvements in benefits, but talks stalled on the issue of job security. The union reached an agreement shortly after, which was later ratified. Unit 1, which represents teaching assistants, also voted overwhelmingly for a strike mandate. Their main point is increasing wage rates, but no statements have been released yet about the ongoing status of negotiations.

STEVEN LEE/THE VARSITY

Jordan Peterson remained a source of controversy

U of T psychology professor Jordan Peterson gained international attention in September 2016 after publishing his YouTube series criticizing political correctness. The news gave way to many rallies, both in support and in opposition of the controversial professor and the right to free speech.

Throughout 2017, Peterson remained a source of controversy. In February, a right-leaning conference where Peterson and Ezra Levant, founder of The Rebel Media, were scheduled to speak was interrupted by protesters and resulted in crowd control police taking to the campus.

Later in the year, Peterson had his funding request denied for the first time by a federal agency, proposed creating an online university to counter traditional institutions, and doxxed two student activists.

In November, Peterson proposed creating a website targeting “postmodern, neo-Marxist” professors, which he eventually abandoned. Later in the same month, hundreds of individuals and organizations across Canada signed an open letter to U of T calling for Peterson’s termination.

Peterson’s ridicule of leftist viewpoints runs contrary to the spirit of academia

Marginalizing certain groups in the name of ‘free speech’ is rife with hypocrisy

Peterson’s ridicule of leftist viewpoints runs contrary to the spirit of academia

If you ask Professor Jordan Peterson’s supporters what they find so appealing about him, many will probably cite his supposed quest for freedom of speech. Indeed, Peterson has championed himself as a fighter for free expression, constantly battling against “political correctness” on university campuses. Given his most recent antics, however, we might question Peterson’s actual commitment to academic freedom.

Firstly, Peterson and his supporters have repeatedly tried to shut down anyone who has dared to criticize or question him by labelling them as “neo-Marxists” or as “social justice warriors,” discrediting their positions without engaging in debate. He has done this to everyone, including those protesting events he is scheduled to speak at, and even journalists at The Varsity who have tried to interview him. The anger Peterson has directed towards his opponents has gone so far as to take the form of harassment, as we saw recently when he exposed the Facebook profiles of two student activists to his massive Twitter following, prompting his supporters to harass them with anti-Semitic and sexist language.

Peterson has also called for several studies to be completely removed from universities, particularly programs related to equity. Peterson apparently believes that “a huge chunk of the humanities and the social sciences have turned into an indoctrination cult.”

One of my majors is Women and Gender Studies (WGS), a program that is hardly an “indoctrination cult” but rather a wide-ranging program that teaches us to examine the world through a more critical and informed lens. It’s hypocritical of Peterson to claim to champion academic freedom whilst calling for certain departments to be shut down.

Sadly, this is not the first time the WGS department has been threatened. Just two years ago, online trolls threatened violence against Women and Gender Studies students and professors, as well as feminists in general. I remember being in my first-year WGS160 course with Campus Police stationed in the lecture hall. The threats — which luckily did not escalate into actual violence — did not make me afraid; if anything I was more determined to study the subject.

WGS, along with other equity programs, are meant to represent those who are marginalized, and examines their perspectives in a world that does not believe those perspectives are worthy. Since most of the people studying these topics are often already marginalized, these types of threats can feel especially severe.

Moreover, Peterson also came forward with the idea of creating a website that uses an algorithm to determine if user-submitted course materials or professors align with so-called “postmodern neo-Marxist” ideology. Though Peterson has since decided to abandon this idea, it still gives us a great deal of insight into his views. We already know that Peterson and many of his supporters harbour hostility towards students and academics in fields related to equity, and given what happened to the students he doxxed, it’s easy to see how the website could have been used to target people and courses associated with such subjects.

Peterson’s use of phrases such as “neo-Marxist” and “social justice warrior” are also questionable. Though apparently common in his vocabulary, these terms are also frequently used as dog-whistles to target anyone who holds views in the spirit of creating a more equitable world. Not only is it silly to assume that everyone in the WGS department is a Marxist or a neo-Marxist, but Peterson twists those labels out of context, using them to mean essentially anyone with left-wing views. The term “social justice warrior” is frequently used online to belittle those interested in equity by dismissing them as oversensitive or irrational.

Even the idea of Peterson’s proposed website contradict his supposed obsession with free expression in the academic world. Imagine if someone created a similar website with a list of, say, professors who promote transphobic and misogynistic views — like refusing to use they/them pronouns and suggesting men cannot control “crazy women” because they aren’t allowed to use physical aggression. Peterson and his supporters would likely be upset by this or feel they are being unfairly targeted due to their viewpoints — despite those viewpoints actually being based in discriminatory logic.

Over the past months, Peterson has demonstrated he is not a champion of academic freedom. In the past year, he has spent his time making a spectacle of himself and raised quite a bit of money through Patreon.

Two years ago, Jordan Peterson was a well-respected psychology professor, and not nearly as famous as he is now. Today, he has developed a new reputation as a provocateur, attacking what he sees as political correctness, the campus left, and so-called “social justice warriors.” And instead of at least engaging in debates about the ideas and departments he finds so abhorrent, he is content to simply say they need to go. Instead of speaking to those who protest him, or accepting that they also have the right to free speech, he posts their personal social media profiles to his Twitter and lets his supporters attack them.

As students, we should not consider Peterson’s tactics as something to strive toward in our academic lives. Instead, we should learn to respect each other and engage in healthy debate, as opposed to resorting to attack.

Adina Heisler is a third-year student at University College studying Women and Gender Studies and English. She is The Varsity’s Student Life Columnist.

Wilful blindness to Peterson’s antics verges on impunity

The erratic professor has incited harassment, threatened students, and vilified faculty — all while the university stands idle

Wilful blindness to Peterson’s antics verges on impunity

Twitter brings out the worst in us. This is especially true of Jordan Peterson, who took to the social media platform on October 26 to air his latest grievances in notably unorthodox fashion.

The U of T psychology professor was lamenting the postponement of a panel he was scheduled to partake in at Ryerson University titled “The Stifling of Free Speech on University Campuses,” featuring notable figures like Gad Saad, Oren Amitay, and former Rebel Media reporter Faith Goldy. The panel was cancelled due to safety concerns, according to Ryerson, followed by organized protests by student and non-student activists alike.

Among the protesters were two activists, George Brown student Marco La Grotta and U of T graduate Christeen Elizabeth, who became the targets of online harassment after Peterson tweeted URL links to their personal Facebook profiles in retaliation for the panel’s cancellation. “Communists,” who “celebrated the shutdown of our Ryerson talk,” he captioned the tweets.

Some of his Twitter followers, a horde of over 245,000, quickly assumed mob mentality. “She is utterly insane, fck that dumb btch,” wrote one, replying to Peterson’s tweet. “The s*** truth Seekers have to deal with,” wrote another. The few users who questioned Peterson’s decision to link to the activists’ profiles were quickly dismissed as ‘concern trolls.’ Peterson’s tweets have received a total of 108 retweets as of press time.

As a result of this sudden exposure, both Elizabeth and La Grotta opened their Facebook inboxes to discover extensive hate mail and violent threats. “Im coming after your kids you bitch,” wrote one user to Elizabeth. “You deserve the bread line and the gulag,” wrote another. Following numerous messages and anti-semitic depictions sent his way, La Grotta temporarily deactivated his Facebook account.

Below: messages sent to La Grotta and Elizabeth’s Facebook inboxes following Peterson’s tweets.

The Varsity first reported on the incident two weeks ago.

Exposing the Facebook profiles of two student activists is, especially for a tenured professor earning a six-figure salary, a sad display of bullying and anti-intellectual behaviour. But it’s not the professor’s first endorsement of online harassment. More recently, Peterson announced his plans to launch a website that would allow students to identify left-leaning faculty members and “postmodern” course material, what U of T’s faculty association says has “created a climate of fear and intimidation” at the university.

Meanwhile, Peterson’s increasingly erratic behaviour has gone almost entirely overlooked by the university itself. Peterson has demonstrated a deteriorating ability to interact maturely with many of those he is paid to interact with — a pattern that should give any employer cause for concern in any profession — and yet time and time again, the university has cowered to him, leaving students and other faculty to bear the brunt of his antics.

The trouble began in September 2016 when Peterson first stepped into the ring with campus activists following his statements on Bill C-16 and his refusal to use gender-neutral pronouns. Ever since, Peterson has found himself in numerous public yelling matches with students protesting his events or rallies.

While not necessarily the fault of Peterson alone, the exchanges have been anything but productive, serving only to foster animosity between the professor and swaths of the student body. Peterson has become so engulfed in ideological warfare that it’s unclear whether he could detach that from the necessary fairness required of a professional academic.

This inundation extends to Peterson’s interaction with student media as well. In October 2016, a staff writer at The Varsity reached out to Peterson for comment on a news story they were writing. The writer took all the necessary steps in assuring the due diligence of a reporter: they provided Peterson with the premise of their story, a sincere set of questions, and a deadline for when to respond.

Peterson, who normally declines to provide comment for The Varsity’s reporting, responded by threatening the writer, telling them they were “playing with serious fire” and that “reality [would] arrange itself so [they would] have serious cause to regret it” if they didn’t “play it straight and careful.”

It’s instances like these that make us question Peterson’s capacity for moral judgment, and how someone displaying such a lack thereof could be employed at a university where students and faculty are expected to work amicably with one another.

Peterson’s recent actions have only made us question this more. In July, he shared an article from InfoWars on Twitter, a publication known for actively spreading falsehoods and baseless conspiracy theories. In October, he railed on what he referred to as “female insanity,” arguing that men can’t control “crazy women” because men are not allowed to physically fight them. All the while, Peterson has been profiting greatly off his antics: in exchange for lectures and panel discussions on political correctness run amok, Peterson earns tens of thousands of dollars from Patreon subscriptions on a monthly basis. He offers video recordings of his lectures to his subscribers and promotes ‘anti-PC’ sticker-sets for the real keeners among them.

In an academic setting, it is detrimental to the pursuit of truth and understanding to embrace fake news, to use terms like ‘crazy’ and ‘insanity’ without an inkling of actual medical diagnosis, and to exploit divisive political issues in order to turn a profit. Moreover, it is antithetical to a safe and productive learning environment to threaten students and faculty, and to expose their personal information online when you disagree with them.

It is evident, too, that the university is unsure of how to handle this problem, and it’s not hard to see why. When the administration fails to intervene in Peterson-related controversies, they are scolded by his opposers on account of complacency. When the administration makes an effort to chide Peterson, as they did so delicately last year through an open letter asking him to respect students’ personal pronouns, Peterson cries oppression.

As a result, the administration has become like the parent at daycare who doesn’t know how to discipline their petulant child. When The Varsity asked the media relations office if the university believed Peterson’s actions toward the two students were appropriate behaviour for a professor, they declined to answer directly, replying that “universities are places where people can express opinions that are controversial and sometimes unsettling.”

This response was disappointing, to say the least. Peterson’s latest actions are not a matter of free speech. Of course free speech and free expression are imperative to a properly functioning liberal democracy. Of course these principles are paramount to a healthy learning experience in a university setting. But Peterson’s latest actions are a matter of harassment, and if the administration cannot distinguish this matter from a matter of free speech then students and faculty alike should be gravely concerned.

The administration must recognize that Peterson’s latest actions extend beyond the realm of ideological debate and into the realm of ideological aggression and, in turn, it must reconsider the values it holds in teachers. It must ask if it is appropriate for its employees to threaten students and incite harassment onto dissenters. It must ask if it is prudent to indulge a professor who has exchanged nuanced, intellectual thought for the inflamed rhetoric he knows will tickle the fancy of his rabid fanbase.

Should Peterson be made aware of this editorial, he will inevitably dismiss it as the rhetoric of the ‘neo-Marxist postmodernists’ that oppose him — overreacting, triggered leftists that need to sort themselves out. Many of his followers will mindlessly agree.

So, given the futility of confronting Peterson directly, our attention turns instead to the administration, whose role it is to reflect on the core values of the institution it leads, and to judge whether Peterson’s recent behaviour has a place at this university. Because in our opinion, it doesn’t.

                                                                                                                                            

Faculty members pen statement condemning Peterson’s proposed website targeting “postmodern, neo-Marxist” profs

Members of the Women and Gender Studies Institute and U of T Faculty Association say website would create unsafe work environment

Faculty members pen statement condemning Peterson’s proposed website targeting “postmodern, neo-Marxist” profs

Faculty members at the Women and Gender Studies Institute (WGSI) as well as the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) have expressed concern over a proposed website by U of T psychology professor Jordan Peterson “for the purpose of identifying and ranking courses and professors that he advocates should be removed from the university” such as women and gender studies as well as “ethnic and racial studies.”

The proposed web site — introduced by Peterson during his Q&A videos on his YouTube channel and in his speech at the Canadian Freedom Summit hosted by Students in Support of Free Speech back in June — would supposedly allow students to upload course descriptions and professor names, and then those descriptions would be fed into an artificial intelligence system “to parse apart the postmodern lexicon automatically.” 

While the website would start off with U of T, Peterson has said that he wants to expand it to analyze courses across North America.

Peterson said in a Q&A video uploaded on October 3 that he hopes to launch the web site in time for the start of the January semester. 

At the Canadian Freedom Summit, Peterson identified courses and programs he sees as “corrupt,” including English literature, sociology, anthropology, education, and law.

“Women’s studies, and all the ethnic studies and racial studies, studies groups, man, those things have to go and the faster they go the better,” said Peterson.

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A letter from faculty members at the WGSI states that “the harassment and security problems that this website encourages is therefore guaranteed to garner international attention to U of T. U of T is already in the news for events at Massey College, and this website is aimed at sparking an even larger storm on campus and in the media.”

In a statement posted on UTFA’s web site, faculty members say that “instructors of the potentially targeted courses believe that their autonomy as educators may be under threat.” The UFTA executive has asked to meet with the Provost’s office to discuss the matter, which they say is a threat to the academic mission of the university.

It further argues that Peterson uses “violence-tinged language” in his speeches describing the website. They reference his Canadian Freedom Summit speech, where “he stated that making purportedly ‘postmodern neomarxist’ arguments ‘should immediately get you punched in the nose hard enough to knock you out.’”

“We strongly request that action is taken by university leadership to proactively prevent this harassment before it begins,” reads the WGSI letter, signed by Rinaldo Walcott, Director of the WGSI, and Michelle Murphy, a professor at WGSI and in the Department of History

U of T’s Director of Media Relations Althea Blackburn-Evans told The Varsity that the administration will be meeting with faculty members to hear their concerns.

In response to the media coverage of backlash against his proposed website, Peterson tweeted, “The postmodern radicals don’t want students to know what philosophy drives their agenda.”

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Peterson has built an international following over the course of the past year. He first gained attention in September 2016 when his YouTube lecture series, “Professor against political correctness,” sparked debate on campus and gained international attention.

The Varsity has reached out to Peterson, who is currently on sabbatical and not teaching classes.

Jordan Peterson doxxes two student activists

Psychology prof tweets Facebook profiles of students protesting event

Jordan Peterson doxxes two student activists

U of T psychology professor Jordan Peterson took to Twitter on October 26 to broadcast the Facebook profiles of two students who helped organize a protest of a Ryerson free speech event where Peterson was scheduled to speak; it was cancelled in August.

The event, “The Stifling of Free Speech on University Campuses,” would have featured prominent conservative speakers. The planned protest rally posed a potential threat if the two groups were to clash, and Ryerson University felt that it did not have proper security for the event. In one of his tweets, Peterson called the protest’s student organizers “communists (really).”

One of the students’ profiles is no longer publicly available on Facebook. The other student, Christeen Elizabeth, has chosen to keep hers available. She feels Peterson’s action should not be taken as a threat, but rather as validation. “When he doxxed me, he validated me,” she said. “He validated everything that I was saying.”

Elizabeth has received extensive hate mail and harassment via Facebook, some of which have bordered on death threats. “These are his fans,” said Elizabeth. “These are the people he’s pandering to. This is why I take issue.”

The free speech event has been rescheduled for November 11, now at Canada Christian College, which Elizabeth said her group still plans on protesting.

Peterson did not respond to The Varsity’s request for comment.

Professor Jordan Peterson wants to create online university

Peterson calls traditional universities a “scam,” “indoctrination cults”

Professor Jordan Peterson wants to create online university

In interviews and lectures over the course of this past summer, University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson expressed his ambition to make an online university to counter the teachings of traditional universities.

Peterson has emphasized his desire to provide students with better and more affordable education. “There is absolutely no reason why high quality education can’t be made available to masses of people at low cost,” said Peterson in a recent interview on CTV’s Your Morning. “I think it’s a scam pretty much from top to bottom and it’s a very expensive scam.”

He has not clearly stated when he will form the online university, though he said on Your Morning that he will soon start a website that will distinguish between postmodern and classical content and “cut off the supply to the people who are running the indoctrination cults.”

Peterson also expressed that his online university would be an alternative to traditional universities, which he believes “have abandoned the humanities.”

“About 80 percent of the humanities papers are never cited once and the humanities have been dominated by a kind of postmodern neo-Marxist, cult ideology,” said Peterson. “[The humanities have] abandoned their mission to students. Their mission should be to teach students to speak, to think, and to read, and to become familiar with the best of the world fundamentally.”

For the 2017–2018 academic year, Peterson is on sabbatical and will not teach undergraduate courses.

Peterson did not respond to The Varsity’s request for comment.

Introducing Comment in Brief

Comment writers provide short takes on major news stories The Varsity broke this summer

Introducing Comment in Brief

Welcome to the first edition of Comment in Brief, a reactive, online-focused subsection featuring short-form responses to The Varsity’s news stories. Briefs will be posted on our website shortly after news stories are published online and later compiled in print.

A series of briefs on news from over the summer is provided below.

STEVEN LEE/THE VARSITY

May 1, “Inside the 2017 Ontario budget”

The 2017 Ontario Budget, released earlier this year, could significantly impact the lives of those who live in the province. Under Premier Kathleen Wynne, the Liberals have allotted budgetary spending for housing reform and have proposed measures to address rising electricity prices. They have also implemented changes intended to boost employment and increase access to prescription drugs for youth. None of these items on the budget, however, are as notable as the Liberals’ new healthcare policy, in line with years of well-developed Canadian policy.

In the US, a war is being waged over Americans’ access to basic health coverage. The Republican US Senate is set on repealing the Affordable Care Act and possibly instituting a replacement, the details of which are largely unknown. For years, Senate members have been debating this topic, and the situation is made worse by an ongoing opioid crisis that surely requires a sustainable healthcare policy in order to be effectively addressed.

Meanwhile, Canadians are in a significantly better position when it comes to healthcare, and the Ontario government has added a “booster shot”  of resources to its healthcare budget for 2017. The changes made to youth drug coverage seek to provide those aged 24 and under with the medication they need within the terms of the Ontario Drug Benefit program. The health budget will also rise by $7 billion — a 3.3 per cent hike over the next three years — and these additional funds are expected to be used to build and revamp hospitals to meet growing demand.

Let’s be thankful that healthcare was one of the top priorities in the 2017 Ontario Budget — what’s happening south of the border shows us just how worse things could be.

Chantel Ouellet is a fourth-year student at Woodsworth College studying Political Science.

STEVEN LEE/THE VARSITY

May 1, “Jordan Peterson’s federal funding denied, Rebel Media picks up the tab”

Earlier this year, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) rejected Jordan Peterson’s federal funding requests for the very first time. Contrary to what he and his supporters may believe, this denial is nothing particularly special; the process of obtaining need-based grants is often painstaking.

Peterson earns a substantial income from other activities, suggesting that there are others in the grant applicant pool who are in greater need of funding. Peterson’s Patreon account, used to fund his online lectures and related materials, earns him more than $50,000 per month. He receives a significant public salary just by nature of being a tenured professor — during his tenure, he has talked at length about how Frozen is feminist “propaganda.” It is entirely within the SSHRC’s jurisdiction to deny him further funding, given his high income.

Even if Peterson’s activities were more academically focused, SSHRC selection committees are comprised of scientific experts. It is entirely plausible that Peterson’s research proposal was found to be lacking in substance, especially given his significant shift in interest over the past few years, targeting topics like ‘political correctness’ as opposed to more academically legitimate pursuits in the field of personality psychology.

Though he has stated otherwise, it is also possible that Peterson’s grant money was to be used for explicitly political purposes: a post on his Patreon stated that the income he collects is ostensibly for the purpose of “[taking] the humanities back from the corrupt postmodernists.” The repeated, troubling statements about gender identity that Peterson made last year suggest that his ideals are often contradictory to those that any good public university espouses, such as openness and inclusiveness toward students regardless of their identity. It makes sense to deny money to someone who denies his students respect and dignity by refusing to recognize them as they are.

Arjun Kaul is a fourth-year student at St. Michael’s College studying Neuroscience.

STEVEN LEE/THE VARSITY

May 11, “Indigenous art exhibition poster vandalized with racist slur”

The vandalism of a poster advertising Indigenous artwork at Hart House this summer is far from an anomalous incident; rather, it reflects a much bigger problem of racism and urban inequality that has long been ignored.

In our city, the plight of Indigenous folks is too often eclipsed by headlines concerning far-off, rural communities. In some media coverage, racism against Indigenous peoples is relegated to distant reserves and the Highway of Tears. The sad truth is that prejudice is alive and well in Toronto, we just rarely hear about it.

Meanwhile, deficiencies in data collection methodologies regarding Indigenous people in Toronto suggest that government numbers on this population are wildly inaccurate, likely making it more difficult to implement policies that will positively impact the Indigenous population. While the 2006 Census of Population estimated the number of Indigenous people in the Greater Toronto Area to be 31,910, the Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council puts the real number closer to 70,000. One would expect a city that prides itself on multiculturalism to have come up with better surveying methods. Mandatory questionnaires were replaced with the voluntary National Health Survey in 2011, meaning numbers for urban Indigenous populations are now more imprecise.

Though it might be perceived as a disturbing one-off, the act of vandalism at Hart House was a glimpse at a crisis that typically remains hidden, and more needs to be done to bring it to light. Engaging in conversations about racism against Indigenous people and developing reliable data collection methods in collaboration with Indigenous groups are important first steps.

Katie MacIntosh is a fourth-year student at Trinity College studying Psychology and Linguistics.

UNIVERSITY OF ST. MICHAEL’S COLLEGE/FACEBOOK

June 7, “St. Michael’s College group attends pro-life demonstration in Ottawa”

On May 11, the University of St. Michael’s College (USMC) sent 23 people to the March for Life, a large ‘pro-life’ demonstration that takes place annually on Parliament Hill. The ‘pro-life’ movement, for me and many others who support basic rights and access to healthcare, represents a serious threat to bodily autonomy and public health. The preventable deaths from complications of unsafe illegal abortions in anti-choice regimes demonstrate how ‘pro-life’ policies often have the opposite effect than intended.

As a conservatively religious institution, USMC has a reputation it must uphold. As such, it is unsurprising that the Campus Ministry provided approximately $1,800 to subsidize participant costs, that USMC President David Mulroney accompanied the group, and that USMC Director of Communications, Events and Outreach Stefan Slovak defended the trip by categorizing those who crusade on behalf of “the sanctity of human life” as “marginalized and silenced in Canadian society.”

What stuns me, however, is that 14 students were willing to pay $100 to take a bus to Ottawa and yell about the way people use their uteri. There must be better ways to spend $100. That amount would get you at least three copies of Our Bodies, Ourselves, an informative guide to reproductive health, or, fittingly, 6.66 student tickets to Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Hart House, a musical about a botched sex change perfect for impassioned religious groups. You could even donate it to one of the innumerable charities that actually protect the “sanctity of human life” by providing food and shelter to real people.

Telling me how I should be allowed to treat my body is offensive, and spending $100 to do it is just foolish. If USMC plans to subsidize the retraction of reproductive rights, then I hope they have their books in order — it seems it won’t be cheap.

Sarah Millman is a fourth-year student at Trinity College studying Criminology, International Relations, and Political Science.

NATHAN CHAN/THE VARSITY

June 22, “BC student union accuses CFS of collusion in local student union elections”

Though the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) has championed itself as the heart and soul of the student movement, it has simultaneously been at the forefront of controversy in student politics circles for years. A recent motion now alleges that former National Chairperson Bilan Arte, along with other CFS executives, colluded with pro-CFS slates in student union elections, and that Arte received assistance from the CFS Communications Department during her own campaign for the University of Manitoba Students’ Union presidency in 2013. And really, is anyone surprised?

Not only does this represent a threat to student democracy, but these leaks should have us scrutinizing other instances of CFS collaboration with student union slates. Meanwhile, CFS Executive Director Toby Whitfield claims that the allegations about Arte are fabricated in order to break “student unity.” This would be more convincing if many other students’ unions across Canada had not made similar claims of CFS interference in their own elections, such as when CFS  members campaigned to help incumbent slates at York University in 2010. Though student unity is incredibly important, the CFS is an organization that threatens student democracy by interfering with the ability of the student body to choose their leaders. The CFS can either find a way to reconcile with the unions that are making these claims, or alternatively, it can dissolve and let the activists behind the organization rebuild and improve a student movement from the bottom up.

Haseeb Hassaan is a fourth-year student at St. Michael’s College studying Political Science.