In a decision celebrated by the university’s students’ union, the University of Cambridge has officially rescinded a fellowship offer to famed psychology professor Jordan Peterson.
On Monday, Peterson announced in a video posted on YouTube that Cambridge had offered him a two-month visiting fellowship with its Faculty of Divinity. “What’s happening in October is that I’m going to Cambridge University in the UK for two months, and I’m going to be a visiting fellow there at the Divinity School,” Peterson told viewers (video below). “That should give me an opportunity to talk to religious experts of all types for a couple of months, as well as students. And the plan at the moment is to do that at the same time that I start recording the lectures on Exodus.”
On Wednesday, the university confirmed that it had offered him a fellowship, but then announced that after “further review,” they’d decided to rescind the offer.
“We can confirm that Jordan Peterson requested a visiting fellowship, and an initial offer has been rescinded after further review,” the university said in a statement reported by the Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU) and The Cambridge Tab Wednesday.
The Faculty of Divinity issued an almost identical statement on the offer to Peterson. “Jordan Peterson requested a visiting fellowship at the Faculty of Divinity, and an initial offer has been rescinded after further review,” the school explained in a social media post Wednesday.
The rescission of the fellowship was quickly celebrated by the CUSU in a since-revised statement on Facebook.
“We are relieved to hear that Jordan Peterson’s request for a visiting fellowship to Cambridge’s Faculty of Divinity has been rescinded following further review,” the CUSU said in a Facebook posted noted by the school paper. “It is a political act to associate the University with an academic’s work through offers which legitimise figures such as Peterson.”
The organization’s leadership then spoke on behalf of the entire student body, which it presented as a monolothic entity. “His work and views are not representative of the student body and as such we do not see his visit as a valuable contribution to the University, but one that works in opposition to the principles of the University,” the statement concluded.
The CUSU has since issued a “clarification” about its declaration that Peterson’s views and work don’t represent the student body’s views: “To clarify, when we refer to Peterson’s views not being representative of the student body, we refer directly to his history of actively espousing discriminatory views towards minority groups, not to academic freedom,” they added in a revised post.
Revised post and screenshot of original post below:
Responses to CUSU’s tweet announcing the school’s decision to revoke the offer prompted mixed responses online, with some condemning the university for having extended the offer in the first place, while others pushed back on the decision to rescind. Two examples of responses:
“Jordan Peterson has repeatedly failed to address the far-right sycophants who worship, support, and fund him,” wrote one follower. “He is a cowardly entity who shares falsehoods from libertarian thinktanks and has facilitated the radicalisation of young white men across the planet. No.”
“Well that seems to me to be a shame because Peterson has some very valuable contributions to make, albeit being controversial,” wrote another person. “But surely Christianity is founded on controversy? Universities are becoming echo chambers – this is not good for open minded thinking.”
Below is the video featuring Peterson’s announcement that he had been offered a fellowship to join Cambridge’s Divinity Faculty (begins around the 6:20 mark):