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Hoax Paper Scholar Quits, Citing Campus ‘Illiberalism’

September 10, 2021

Peter Boghossian, one of the scholars behind the so-called grievance studies hoax of 2018, resigned from Portland State University this week. Boghossian, formerly an assistant professor of philosophy, in a public resignation letter accused the university of repeatedly failing to protect him from retaliation by students and some colleagues for his views.

Boghossian has been a vocal critic of critical studies and social justice efforts, and he has engaged with such controversial figures as antifeminist YouTuber Carl Benjamin. Boghossian, who elsewhere has said that he does not consider himself a political conservative, wrote in his letter that the “illiberalism” he experienced is part of an “institution-wide problem.” He argued that he never should have been accused and found guilty of research misconduct for the hoax papers and alleged -- among other instances of harassment -- that he’d found swastikas with his name on them and a bag of feces by his office.

“This is not the outcome I wanted. But I feel morally obligated to make this choice,” Boghossian wrote in his letter. “For 10 years, I have taught my students the importance of living by your principles. One of mine is to defend our system of liberal education from those who seek to destroy it. Who would I be if I didn’t?”

Portland State declined comment on Boghossian specifically, citing personnel privacy policies, but confirmed it had accepted his resignation. The university said in a statement that it “has always been and will continue to be a welcoming home for free speech and academic freedom. We believe that those practices are not in conflict with our core institutional values of student success; racial justice and equity; and proactive engagement with our community.”

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Colleen Flaherty

Colleen Flaherty, Reporter, covers faculty issues for Inside Higher Ed. Prior to joining the publication in 2012, Colleen was military editor at the Killeen Daily Herald, outside Fort Hood, Texas. Before that, she covered government and land use issues for the Greenwich Time and Hersam Acorn Newspapers in her home state of Connecticut. After graduating from McGill University in Montreal in 2005 with a degree in English literature, Colleen taught English and English as a second language in public schools in the Bronx, N.Y. She earned her M.S.Ed. from City University of New York Lehman College in 2008 as part of the New York City Teaching Fellows program. 

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