Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, is the latest focal point for the growing free speech crisis on college campuses. University student Lindsay Shepherd, 22, teaches tutorials on language use for first year communications students in a class called “Canadian Communication in Context”. She showed brief clip featuring psychology professor Jordan Peterson who is against forced use of genderless and “made-up” pronouns. Shepherd said that the clip spurred a lively and beneficial discussion in the class. However, one student filed a compliant and now Shepherd is facing an investigation for creating a “toxic environment” for showing the clip without publicly denouncing the views expressed in the clip. It appears that the school’s motto, Veritas Omnia Vincit (“Truth Conquers All”), applies only to university sanctioned truth.
Shepherd was pulled before a meeting with her supervisor, the communications program coordinator, and the acting manager of the “Gendered Violence Prevention and Support” program. Her failure was to show the view opposing new pronouns without expressly denouncing the view that we should stick with the “he” and “she” pronouns. Her failure to do so was analogized to “neutrally playing a speech by Hitler.” It appears that by simply presenting the opposing sides, she was “legitimizing” the views in favor of traditional pronouns.
Now Shepherd must get prior approval for lesson plans and the matter is being investigated. Note Shepherd did not expressly agree with statements in the clip showing part of the debate between University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson and University of Toronto Sexual Diversity Studies program lecturer Nicholas Matte. She is being investigated for not taking sides in favor of alternative pronouns. Peterson is been a critic of Canada’s federal Bill C-16, which requires alternative genders and adds “gender expression” and “gender identity” to the hate crime section of the Criminal Code.
The action of the university clearly violates academic freedom as well as free speech protections. If it has any remaining residue of such values it will look into the work of this committee and not the instructor in this controversy.
What do you think?