Prof Peter Boghossian Resigns from Portland State After 'Intellectual Exploration' Made 'Impossible'
Portland State University professor Peter Boghossian resigned on Wednesday, stating that the school has made “intellectual exploration” an “impossible” feat, and that students at the university “are not being taught to think,” but rather, “are being trained to mimic the moral certainty of ideologues.”
“I’m writing to you today to resign as assistant professor of philosophy at Portland State University,” Boghossian — who has taught philosophy at Portland State for the past decade — said in his resignation letter to Provost Susan Jeffords.
Boghossian added that he had invited “invited a wide range of guest lecturers” to address his classes, ranging “from Flat-Earthers to Christian apologists to global climate skeptics to Occupy Wall Street advocates.”
The professor said that he did this, “not because I agreed with their worldviews, but primarily because I didn’t,” adding that he wanted to “create the conditions for rigorous thought” for his students, and “help them gain the tools to hunt and furrow for their own conclusions.”
“From those messy and difficult conversations, I’ve seen the best of what our students can achieve: questioning beliefs while respecting believers; staying even-tempered in challenging circumstances; and even changing their minds,” Boghossian explained.
“I never once believed — nor do I now — that the purpose of instruction was to lead my students to a particular conclusion,” he added. “But brick by brick, the university has made this kind of intellectual exploration impossible.”
My University Sacrificed Ideas for Ideology. So Today I Quit.
— Peter Boghossian (@peterboghossian) September 8, 2021
Boghossian went on to say that the school has “transformed a bastion of free inquiry into a Social Justice factory whose only inputs were race, gender, and victimhood and whose only outputs were grievance and division.”
The professor continued:
Students at Portland State are not being taught to think. Rather, they are being trained to mimic the moral certainty of ideologues. Faculty and administrators have abdicated the university’s truth-seeking mission and instead drive intolerance of divergent beliefs and opinions. This has created a culture of offense where students are now afraid to speak openly and honestly.
I noticed signs of the illiberalism that has now fully swallowed the academy quite early during my time at Portland State. I witnessed students refusing to engage with different points of view. Questions from faculty at diversity trainings that challenged approved narratives were instantly dismissed. Those who asked for evidence to justify new institutional policies were accused of microaggressions. And professors were accused of bigotry for assigning canonical texts written by philosophers who happened to have been European and male.
“At first, I didn’t realize how systemic this was and I believed I could question this new culture,” Boghossian said. “The more I spoke out about these issues, the more retaliation I faced.”
The professor added that he “eventually became convinced that corrupted bodies of scholarship were responsible for justifying radical departures from the traditional role of liberal arts schools and basic civility on campus.”
Therefore, Boghossian decided to “demonstrate that morally fashionable papers — no matter how absurd — could be published,” so he co-published “an intentionally garbled peer-reviewed paper,” titled, “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct.”
The paper argued that “penises were products of the human mind and responsible for climate change,” Boghossian said, adding that he immediately thereafter revealed the article was “a hoax designed to shed light on the flaws of the peer-review and academic publishing systems.”
“Shortly thereafter, swastikas in the bathroom with my name under them began appearing in two bathrooms near the philosophy department,” the professor explained. “They also occasionally showed up on my office door, in one instance accompanied by bags of feces.”
Meanwhile, Portland State remained silent, Boghossian said.
“I continued to believe, perhaps naively, that if I exposed the flawed thinking on which Portland State’s new values were based, I could shake the university from its madness,” the professor continued, adding that in 2018, he co-published “a series of absurd or morally repugnant peer-reviewed articles.”
One of the articles argued that “there was an epidemic of dog rape at dog parks and proposed that we leash men the way we leash dogs,” he said.
Boghossian added that administrators and faculty were so angered by the papers, that they filed formal charges against him accusing the professor of “research misconduct.”
“Meanwhile, ideological intolerance continued to grow at Portland State,” the professor continued, noting several separate occasions in which protesters disrupted public discussions and speaking events on campus, adding that the “university did nothing to stop or address this behavior.”
“For me, the years that followed were marked by continued harassment,” Boghossian added. “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.”
Boghossian ended his resignation letter by affirming that institutions are meant to “remind us that the freedom to question is our fundamental right.”
“Educational institutions should remind us that that right is also our duty,” he said, adding that “Portland State University has failed in fulfilling this duty.”
This has not been Boghossian’s first time warning the public against the woke culture that has infested so many entities today.
In 2019, the professor penned a column for the Wall Street Journal in which he made the case that social justice politics are seeping out of academia and into the real world.
Boghossian explained that “politically engaged academicians have been developing concepts like these for more than 30 years, and all that time they’ve been percolating.”
“Only recently have they begun to emerge in mainstream culture,” he said. “These academicians accomplish this by passing off their ideas as knowledge; that is, as if these terms describe facts about the world and social reality.”