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The Shibleys Explain the Harms Caused by Campus ‘Trigger Warnings’

By May 27, 2014

By now, FIRE followers know about the latest trend in chilling speech on campus: “trigger warnings,” which are statements or disclosures that certain writings or discussions include content that may “trigger” traumatic responses in some individuals.

With the recent controversies at Oberlin College and Wellesley College, it’s no surprise that trigger warnings have been the subject of a lot of media attention. Today, FIRE’s Robert Shibley and his wife Araz (who is also a lawyer) joined the chorus of those concerned about this practice in a column on Reason.com. In the piece, the Shibleys set forth the many harms caused by trigger warnings on campus:

When a college places limits on the topics their students can encounter, it effectively robs them of a complete education. To attend college is (or should be) to deliberately seek out an experience in which one will wrestle with humanity’s most serious issues. Students and professors must be able to discuss such topics like the adults they are. Trigger warning policies make this kind of discourse less likely to take place. Instead, they send the troubling message that professors should avoid ideas that could potentially spark an emotional response from their students, and they guarantee that the students who skip certain lectures or assignments will not receive the full benefit of the classroom experience.

Check out the whole article at Reason.com for an in-depth breakdown of how trigger warnings cause more harm than good on campus.

Schools: Oberlin College Wellesley College