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Colleges call for "trigger warnings" for college students

March 10, 2014 - Andrea Johnson
Here are a few ridiculous anecdotes from the annals of politically correct higher education.

Last month, The New Republic reported, the student government at the University of California in Santa Barbara passed a resolution "urging officials to institute mandatory trigger warnings on class syllabi." This would require professors to warn students that their delicate minds might be harmed by certain subject matter, such as the "suicide, domestic abuse and graphic violence" in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" or "the racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence and suicide" in Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart." Meanwhile, Oberlin College, home of some of the nation's most hypersensitive young snowflakes (AKA "college students") advises its professors to "be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression," to remove triggering material when it doesn't "directly" contribute to learning goals and "strongly consider" developing a policy to make "triggering material" optional."

I know that many students have had terrible things happen in their lives that haunt them to this day. The "trigger warning" is well-intentioned, though incredibly misguided, because it is meant to avoid causing pain. But I also don't think it is possible to avoid a little pain or disturbance in the course of being educated. I read "Gatsby" when I was a sophomore in high school and "Things Fall Apart" as a college freshman and, yes, there were some disturbing scenes in each novel. There are other books I have read that have brought back memories of some difficult and painful events in my own life. I don't think any student ought to be excused from reading either novel, regardless of whether he or she has been a victim of abuse or had a loved one commit suicide. I shudder to think of a country run by the likes of these graduates of Oberlin College.

Meanwhile, at the University of South Carolina, future social workers are reading a social work textbook by Karen Kirst-Ashman of the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater" that describes "former President Ronald Reagan as a sexist who "ascribed to women primarily domestic functions," and writes conservatives off as people who are "pessimistic" about human nature," according to the CBS Charlotte network. The book makes the claim that Reagan appointed few women to positions of power. I was not a particular fan of the late President Reagan, but I do give him his due. He nominated the first female Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O'Connor and Jeanne Kirkpatrick, the first female U.S. representative to the United Nations. Critics are rightfully raising a ruckus over the seeming bias of the textbook, which is described as "balanced" in the online blurb given by its publisher. It appears to be anything but.


Article Comments



Mar-14-14 2:34 PM

And who is the arbiter of cultural competence, Poetic Justice?


Mar-13-14 9:31 PM

nothing california does surprises anybody except leftist extremists.


Mar-13-14 9:02 PM

The phrase, "politically correct" is code for -- cultural incompetence.


Mar-13-14 1:59 PM

"Grown-ups of either gender approach reality from the perspective of strength and do not expect the world to change to accommodate them..."

Well said.


Mar-13-14 10:28 AM

"Are you talking about Lindsey Graham?"

Lindsey Graham is a Grade A scumbag. I cannot stress enough my contempt for that "man".


Mar-13-14 10:27 AM

Most newspapers with an online presence are doing it. It's surprised me that the MDN held out for as long as it did. You can't keep giving away your product for nothing on the internet forever...


Mar-11-14 1:15 PM

Some of the more extreme feminists are indeed calling for the sort of deference and protective measures that were last put in place for women during the Victorian Era or earlier. Their reasons are different and they'd be appalled by the very thought, but the results are the same. They think women who have been abused in the past should not be forced to read or view something "triggering" without a trigger warning. Victorian society thought that good girls and women should be protected from seeing anything that might shock or disturb them because women were the gentler, more pure sex. Grown-ups of either gender approach reality from the perspective of strength and do not expect the world to change to accommodate them or for people to warn them about anything disturbing. I think the kids at these colleges are in for a very rude awakening. No one in the world outside academia gives a rip if they have been "triggered" or will guarantee them a "safe place."


Mar-11-14 12:18 PM

"They're acting like Victorian maidens who get the vapors at the first sight of a man"

Interesting observation. The old is new again.

When I hear "Wellesley College" mentioned, all I can think of is that line from Wag the Dog, where the woman says something really stupid and the man asks her, "Where'd you go to school, Wellesley?"


Mar-11-14 11:59 AM

Then we have Wellesley College, where a group of young women have complained that a statue of a sleepwalking man in his underwear on the campus has "triggered" them. They demanded that the statue be removed from their view. It's a mighty ugly statue but there are many ugly modern art statues. Too many of today's college kids seem to be demanding the right not to be offended or disturbed in any way. They're acting like Victorian maidens who get the vapors at the first sight of a man.


Mar-11-14 9:17 AM

Wow. Just, wow.

I wonder what kinds of disclaimers they would want for going to church. Because, you know, the Bible has a great many things in it that could disturb a reader. Want to complain about violence, rape, and murder? Those are all in there too.

People need to grow up. This stuff is all part of life. If you can't face up to it, you're going to fall apart in the real world.


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