Ivy League School REFUSES to Make ‘Trigger Warnings’ Mandatory for Students

The topic of trigger warnings has sparked a heated discussion between university officials and students. Cornell University recently declined the request made by the Student Assembly to incorporate "trigger warnings" in lectures. The Student Assembly passed a resolution in late March, urging the university to alert students ahead of time about any distressing content that may trigger PTSD symptoms. The resolution also proposed that students be allowed to avoid exposure to such content without any negative repercussions.

The president and provost of Cornell issued a joint letter in response to the Student Assembly's resolution, clarifying why they couldn't support it. They contended that requiring trigger warnings would contravene the university's fundamental values of academic liberty and open exploration, which are integral to a Cornell education. Additionally, they noted that it would discourage professors from venturing into uncharted and demanding territory for fear of reprimand.

The president and provost further stated that allowing students to avoid all related encounters in any field or subject would harm both the student's personal learning experience and the prestige of a Cornell degree. The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) supported Cornell's position, citing that enforcing trigger warnings would undoubtedly impede academic freedom and stifle discourse and exchange in the classroom.

Trigger warnings can also be detrimental to the well-being of the students they aim to assist. Firstly, they can be seen as belittling, implying that students lack the emotional resilience of typical adults if they require forewarning of potentially offensive content. Furthermore, studies indicate that trigger warnings do not alleviate anxiety associated with the material and may even result in slightly higher anxiety levels than presenting the same material without a warning.

Cornell should be commended for dismissing the Student Assembly's demand for obligatory trigger warnings. It is crucial for universities to uphold their dedication to academic freedom and free inquiry, while also acknowledging the need to safeguard students from potentially detrimental material. One can only hope that other esteemed institutions will follow Cornell's lead and resist the restrictive and unproductive demands of authoritarian students.

Written by Staff Reports

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