Peter Boghossian: Portland varsity prof resigns, slams ‘social justice factory’
Professor slams university for 'intolerance of divergent beliefs' and claims he was harassed for challenging university's ideas
A professor at Portland State University has resigned and slammed the university as a "social justice factory" in a scathing public letter. Peter Boghossian, a full-time assistant professor of philosophy, taught at the university for a decade but claims he was recently harassed for challenging the "beliefs" of the university. He's finally decided to throw in the towel, saying the university has made "intellectual exploration impossible".
As America's fractured politics makes its way into classrooms, numerous teachers and academics have chosen to resign in protest in recent years. In July, notable Harvard professor Dr Cornel West resigned from the university, slamming its "spiritual rot". The same month, Josiah Enyart resigned from a school in Kansas over its renewed mask mandates. Before that, English teacher Dana Stangel-Plowe quit her job at a New Jersey school over its use of critical race theory. Numerous such stories have quickly gone viral, with the teachers facing flak for their stance.
Now, it's Boghossian's turn. The philosophy professor has made some damning allegations against Portland State, which the university has vehemently denied. His story has made headlines after he shared it with Bari Weiss, a former New York Times journalist who now runs her own Substack subscription.
Who is Peter Boghossian?
A philosopher and pedagogist, Boghossian has spent nearly three decades as a teacher "in prisons, hospitals, public and private schools, seminaries, universities, Fortune 100 companies, and small businesses." Apart from teaching, he is also the author of two books - 'A Manual for Creating Atheists' and 'How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide'. Beyond that, Boghossian also regularly writes for The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, New Statesman, The Philosophers’ Magazine, and many more publications.
Boghossian's prime areas of work include critical thinking and moral reasoning. He also has an interest in prison reform, which was the focus of his doctoral research study funded by the State of Oregon. However, Boghossian is perhaps best known in academic circles for his controversial hoax papers in 2017. That year, he and James A. Lindsay co-authored and published a paper titled 'The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct'. He published that, along with a series of other papers to "expose the reality of grievance studies." He added that the papers were published to prove academic journals would publish anything that aligned with "left-wing views".
In 2018, Portland State also investigated Boghossian for research misconduct, after his hoax papers were outed. The previous year, he was also investigated after complaints of gender discrimination, which eventually turned out to be unsubstantiated. The 2018 investigation ended with him being banned from doing research. He's now alleged those investigations were a part of a smear campaign against him because he challenged the "new institutional policies."
Prof claims 'only outputs were grievance and division'
In his resignation letter, Boghossian has made several serious allegations against the university. He says "faculty and administrators have abdicated the university’s truth-seeking mission and instead drive intolerance of divergent beliefs and opinions," saying it "has created a culture of offense where students are now afraid to speak openly and honestly." When he began to investigate the "illiberalism", Boghossian says he was targeted, and "the more I spoke out about these issues, the more retaliation I faced."
After the publication of his hoax papers, Boghossian said "swastikas in the bathroom with my name under them began appearing," and added one even appeared on his office door with a bag of feces. He also claimed his discussions were interrupted, once by a tenured professor, and another time by a fire alarm. "I was spit on and threatened by passersby while walking to class. I was informed by students that my colleagues were telling them to avoid my classes," he claimed.
He concludes his scathing attack of the university by saying, "it has become clear to me that this institution is no place for people who intend to think freely and explore ideas." In response, the university told The Daily Mail, "Portland State has always been and will continue to be a welcoming home for free speech and academic freedom." The university added it has no comment on Dr. Boghossian's statement of resignation."