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College Students Should Not Request “Trigger Warnings”

May 18, 2014

This is far over the line when it comes to coddling.  College education is for the mentally strong.  As such, this notion should not even be entertained.

How did we create a generation of students that, if this below is to be taken seriously, are so ill-prepared for the reality of ideas presented in classrooms?

Colleges across the country this spring have been wrestling with student requests for what are known as “trigger warnings,” explicit alerts that the material they are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans.

The most vociferous criticism has focused on trigger warnings for materials that have an established place on syllabuses across the country. Among the suggestions for books that would benefit from trigger warnings are Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” (contains anti-Semitism) and Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” (addresses suicide).

Any kind of blanket trigger policy is inimical to academic freedom,” said Lisa Hajjar, a sociology professor at the university here, who often uses graphic depictions of torture in her courses about war. “Any student can request some sort of individual accommodation, but to say we need some kind of one-size-fits-all approach is totally wrong. The presumption there is that students should not be forced to deal with something that makes them uncomfortable is absurd or even dangerous.”

“Frankly it seems this is sort of an inevitable movement toward people increasingly expecting physical comfort and intellectual comfort in their lives,” said Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit group that advocates free speech. “It is only going to get harder to teach people that there is a real important and serious value to being offended. Part of that is talking about deadly serious and uncomfortable subjects.”


  1. tom permalink
    May 19, 2014 9:07 PM

    We cant argue on the one hand that students need to confront powerful and sometimes confrontational ideas while we condone–or remain silent–about incidents like what Brandeis University did to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

    Unfortunately, universities are closing their minds as the population degenerates into the mental goo of political correctness.

  2. Rolf permalink
    May 19, 2014 10:13 AM

    What’s a college student to to, when neither the mommy or daddy is right around the corner in their helicopter? The horror!

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