Prof. Jordan Peterson, who made headlines last fall when he publicly refused to use gender neutral pronouns, aims to “take the humanities back” from university establishments after surpassing $45,000 monthly fundraising goal.
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You will understand why people are rallying to his cause. To listen to him is a treat.
He is simply fascinating.
A controversial University of Toronto psychology professor is making nearly $50,000 per month through crowdfunding, from a base of supporters that was ignited in large part by the professor’s anti-political correctness views.
Prof. Jordan Peterson, who made headlines last fall when he publicly refused to use gender neutral pronouns, has been using the fundraising platform Patreon since last March to subsidize costs associated with filming and uploading videos of his lectures to YouTube.
He is now harnessing his online clout with eyes on a new goal — to offer an online university degree in the humanities for which students pay only for examinations.
“I’m fighting this as a battle of ideas,” Peterson told the Star. “Hopefully I can bring high-quality education to millions of people — for nothing. Wouldn’t that be cool.”
Peterson said he views university establishments as “the next best thing to a cult” due to their focus on what he calls “postmodern” themes such as equity. He says his independent project will contrast the university model by providing straight humanities education.
For about his first seven months on Patreon, Peterson earned about $1,000 per month. That changed last October, when he saw a dramatic increase in support, which has not slowed. The professor surpassed a fundraising goal of $45,000 on June 10, and is now aiming for $100,000 per month. On Monday, Peterson was making $49,460 every month from 4,432 patrons.
He is currently the 32nd highest-earning Patreon creator, of more than 75,000 people who are using the site to fundraise.
“Obviously people are pretty happy with the approach that I’ve been taking to psychological matters and, I suppose, to some degree, political matters online,” Peterson said.
Luis Dizon, a U of T graduate student, said he supports Peterson through Patreon because he’s “fostering important conversations.”
“I listened to many of his lectures and found that they resonated with my world view and social views,” he said.
Peterson maintains, for instance, that the call for equity — levelling the playing field by prioritizing historically disadvantaged communities — is “so dangerous that it borders on treasonous,” and that the idea of socially determined gender is “just flat out wrong.”
Critics of Peterson have been adamant that these stances amount to transphobia and bigotry; student groups called for the professor to apologize in the fall, and the university issued him a letter urging him to adhere to anti-discrimination policies.
Mollie Starr, a spokesperson for Patreon, which prohibits bullying and harassment as part of its community guidelines, said the company has “very few records of him being reported.”
Since October, Peterson has spoken publicly on his anti-political correctness views, testifying in opposition to Bill C-16, which would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code to include protection for gender identity or expression.
He says that his goal in speaking publicly and in setting up the hypothetical university is philosophical rather than political.
“People just have to watch what I’m doing like they are now and decide for themselves if it’s worth supporting,” he said. “They can quit supporting me at any time.”
The professor said he has no intention of leaving his job at U of T, and that his relationship with the university is positive.
Althea Blackburn-Evans, a U of T spokesperson, said that the university does not have concerns about his current YouTube productions.
Regarding his proposed crowdfunded accreditation program, Blackburn-Evans said that she was not aware of a professor carrying out a similar project in the past.
“As far as I know, Professor Peterson hasn’t discussed this with the university,” she said. “So really, we’ll have to wait and see how his plans materialize before we can comment on them specifically.”