University of Chicago No Longer Allows ‘Trigger Warnings’ or ‘Safe Spaces’
Most Universities have taken to using trigger warnings and safe spaces to shield students from ideas that might be ‘discomforting or trauma-inducing’.
Not the University of Chicago!
A trigger warning is advance notice about subject material that may be difficult for certain students to read, hear or see. A safe space is a place they can go to avoid those subjects or heal after confronting them.
These ideas often include topics that touch on “racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression.”
The concepts have stifled freedom, liberty, and especially the basic concept of free speech. A Knight Foundation survey showed that “54 percent of students said the climate on campus prevents some people from saying what they believe because they are fearful of offending others.”
Though there is some debate surrounding how widespread the use of trigger warnings actually is, another survey conducted by the National Coalition Against Censorship found that a majority of educators had used trigger warnings at one time or another.
But the University of Chicago has recently made a policy decision that it was going to fully support free speech and an atmosphere of ideas.
John Ellison, dean of students at the University of Chicago, recently sent letters to incoming freshmen. It detailed the school’s commitment to academic freedom and inquiry.
In the letter, the incoming class were given a strong mandate by the institution they have elected to join:
“Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn, without fear of censorship. Civility and mutual respect are vital to all of us. Freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to harass or threaten others. You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.”
“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called trigger warnings. We do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial. We do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own,” Ellison wrote.
The issue has ranged from the simple to the absurd.
Brown University actually created a room “with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies”. All because a debate on sexual assault was taking place on campus.
A professor at Harvard Law School has written about the near-impossibility of teaching rape law with trigger warnings.
At Brandeis, an installation by the Asian American student association to show microaggressions often made against them, (like remarks “Aren’t you supposed to be good at math?”) was shuttered after other Asian American students protested that the display itself was a microaggression.
At Oberlin, students have sought trigger warnings for the book Antigone; Columbia, for Ovid’s Metamorphoses; Rutgers, for Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway.
Others universities have canceled “controversial” speakers:
Condoleezza Rice, George Will, Ben Shapiro, Ann Coulter, Jason Riley, and Michelle Malkin, among them. All under intense pressure from faculty or students.
This is an update actually. This all happened a few semesters back, in 2016. You will note that no student has died from this experiment in common sense and the basic foundational principles our country was founded on!
Kudos to the University of Chicago! Many other schools should follow suit! Let’s get back to real free speech. Lets quit making snowflakes, offended at every word.