Canada university under fire for gender pronoun debate

TA accuses university of censoring gendered pronoun discussion

TA accuses university of censoring gendered pronoun discussion

On the recording of the meeting, Shepherd is heard tearfully defending her decision to play the clip while staff accuse her of being transphobic and liken her failure to condemn Peterson to remaining neutral on the views of Adolf Hitler.

The good news is that Wilfrid Laurier University has finally apologized to teaching assistant Lindsay Shepherd; the bad news is, they did it for all the wrong reasons.

Those who questioned her included two faculty members (one of whom supervised her work as a teaching assistant) and the university's equity officer.

In her apology, MacLatchy said that conversation fell short of Laurier's standards. "They were basically forced to do it out of public and media shaming".

As part of a lesson on the complexities of grammar, Shepherd said she was trying to demonstrate that the structure of a language can impact the society in which its spoken in ways people might not anticipate.

Shepherd asked those questioning her to show her the complaint so she could learn how she offended someone, and she asked to know the number of students who had complained, saying, "Was it one?" Peterson gained a large online following a year ago after he publicly declared his refusal to use gender-neutral pronouns for trans students who requested it.

"Not to kind of do the thing where everything is kind of compared to Hitler, but this is like neutrally playing a speech by Hitler or Milo Yiannopoulos from Gamer Gate", a faculty member told Ms Shepherd.

Rambukkana was the lead bully but, as someone who covers the criminal courts, where they are used to parsing out responsibility, the other two could have been found guilty of the same assault on Shepherd, just as parties to a murder can be convicted though they may not have pulled the trigger.

The clip of Peterson debating sexual diversity scholar Nicholas Matte, she said, was meant to demonstrate ways in which the existence of gender-specific pronouns has caused controversy.

Shepherd said during the meeting she presented the material "critically" and that "I disagree with Jordan Peterson..."

"While I still think that such material needs to be handled carefully, especially so as to not infringe on the rights of any of our students or make them feel unwelcome in the learning environment, I believe you are right that making a space for controversial or oppositional views is important, and even essential to a university", he wrote in the letter.

Bowing to that outrage, the university apologized to Shepherd, but the hollow apology is too little too late.

"It doesn't matter how nicely you put it, it's not OK to say that you can't debate issues and you have to think a certain way", she said.

According to the statement, the school has also launched a task force "to delve into these issues", but did not immediately offer more details on the matter.

Ms. Shepherd posted her reaction on Twitter, saying that the university was still ambiguous about free speech. "The intense media interest points to a highly polarizing and very complicated set of issues that is affecting universities across the democratic world".

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