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ReasonTV Explores College Classroom ‘Trigger Warnings’ in New Video

By May 8, 2014

FIRE President Greg Lukianoff makes an appearance in a new ReasonTV video that discusses  proposals at Oberlin College and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) to require  “trigger warnings” on course syllabi.

Trigger warnings are statements placed at the beginning of materials to warn readers that the content may “trigger” a reaction to past trauma. They originated on message boards and blogs, but in recent years, the list of topics noted in the warnings has expanded—as have the places where trigger warnings are used. Now, the phenomenon has arrived at college campuses.

ReasonTV spoke with UCSB junior Bailey Loverin, who authored a resolution to mandate that professors use warnings before presenting potentially triggering material. She says, “It’s really not anyone else’s business to tell someone when they are mentally and emotionally ready to deal with things.”

Greg, however, expresses concern about the implications such a mandate might have for free speech. He points to a recent incident at UCSB in which a professor stole a pro-life activist’s display and then pushed her when the student attempted to get it back. The professor’s reasoning? She found the poster triggering.

“It’s a very unfortunate part of human nature,” Greg says in the video. “If you give us an excuse to shut down people with which we disagree, we are very quick to jump on that.”

Reason’s video is posted on its website.

Schools: University of California, Santa Barbara Oberlin College