Universities try different tactics to avoid trigger warnings for students

Universities try different tactics to avoid trigger warnings for students
Universities try different tactics to avoid trigger warnings for students

Universities try different tactics to avoid trigger warnings for students

If you haven’t spent much time on a college campus in recent years, you may have missed the debate over trigger warnings. They’re alerts that some professors and school administrations issue before a class, assignment, or event that’s expected to touch on a sensitive topic, be it rape, racism, or domestic abuse. The argument is that being exposed to such topics could “trigger” an episode of PTSD or a strong emotional response in a student who has experienced the problem firsthand. Students calling for trigger warnings say they’re worried about the emotional well-being of their fellow students. But those who oppose them — including many professors — say they’re having a chilling effect on free and open discourse, and that the warnings are coddling a generation of college students just before those students head into the “real world.” We’ve lined up two guests with differing perspectives on trigger warnings. Erik Baker is a senior at Northwestern University, and a representative for the student group Men Against Rape and Sexual Violence. And for another perspective, we turn to Geoff Stone of the University of Chicago Law School, where he’s the interim dean and a professor who studies and teaches constitutional law. He’s also chairman of a University of Chicago faculty committee that earlier this year issued a statement about free speech on campus. (Flickr/velkr0)