The eminent University of Cambridge's clampdown on Canadian thinker and public speaker Jordan Peterson made waves in both academia and media last month, and critics argue that it became yet another step in the university's foray into virtue-signalling.
"In recent months it has taken a set of decisions which make one of our foremost seats of learning look not just woke but weak", journalist and political commentator Douglas Murray wrote in an opinion piece for the Daily Telegraph.
Cambridge pulled Jordan Peterson's fellowship invitation at the Faculty of Divinity last month. University officials explained that they withdrew the offer after a photo of Peterson standing alongside a fan wearing an "I'm a proud Islamophobe" t-shirt sparked public controversy.
Peterson said Cambridge's move left him in "sorrow" and "shock", adding that the man has the right to wear the controversial t-shirt as part of freedom of expression.
"As it was, a group of left-wing activists at Cambridge — students and academics — decided to lobby against the appointment. And the university caved, ignominiously and ineptly announcing that the invitation to Peterson had been withdrawn," Murray recounts.
The Spectator's associate editor said this indicates that the ideology of 'wokeness' is taking over public and private institutions.
In another contentious step, Cambridge announced a two-year investigation into whether it had contributed or profited from the Atlantic slave trade.
This decision, coupled with the recent firing of a scholar accused of racist stereotyping, is a "textbook example of institutional virtue-signalling", argues Murray.
The disgraced scholar is Noah Carl, a social scientist who was appointed to a prestigious research fellowship at Cambridge's St. Edmund's College last year.
His appointment led to protests in academia; last December, several hundred academics from around the world signed an open letter which called Carl's research "racist pseudoscience" and assumed that it "seeks to establish correlations between race, genes, intelligence and criminality in order to explain one by the other".
Carl, in turn, said that contrary to what the letter implies, he has never conducted any original research on racial differences in intelligence. He dismissed accusations of racism, but admitted that genes could contribute to differences in intelligence among ethnic groups.