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Students Ask College for Mandatory Trigger Warnings

Thursday, October 6, 2016 8:49
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Devontae Torriente, the president of student government at American University in Washington, D.C., wants to force the school’s professors to label controversial content with trigger warnings. With the #LetUsLearn campaign, Torriente is asking the school to reconsider its policy against such mandates.

“The fact of the matter is, trigger warnings are necessary in order to make our academic spaces accessible to all students, especially those who have experienced trauma,” said Torriente in a video. “In doing so, we uphold AU’s commitment to academic freedom and allow all students to participate in the exchange of ideas and discussion.”

Torriente and his fellow activists are responding to a resolution passed by the private university last year, which eschewed the mandatory use of trigger warnings.

“American University is committed to protecting and championing the right to freely communicate ideas—without censorship—and to study material as it is written, produced, or stated, even material that some members of our community may find disturbing or that provokes uncomfortable feelings,” read the 2015 resolution.

The resolution does not prevent the school’s professors from voluntarily warning students about uncomfortable subjects, but Torriente says that’s not good enough. He’s asking for a meeting with the school’s faculty senate with the ultimate goal of creating “a campus-wide definition [of triggering content] to continue to make academic spaces accessible to all students.” Only when every professor is compelled to add a trigger warning to their syllabus will students be truly free, he claims.

For the sake of American University students specifically and our wider culture in general, we pray that the faculty stands their ground.

Trigger warnings (and their ideological cousin, “safe spaces”) are not what they appear to be. Even many conservatives fall into the trap of thinking that these concepts are meant to protect precious, sensitive millennials who would fall to pieces if they had to hear the word “rape” in a college classroom. No doubt, those people exist, but they don’t have anything to do with the cause. Like all forms of political correctness, trigger warnings are about defining the terms of the debate.

The goal is not to protect rape victims from content that might trigger anxiety born from post-traumatic stress disorder. The goal is to slowly but surely slap a label on every manifestation of conservative thought, subtly letting students know that there are two categories of subject matter: The truth…and the lies. It’s an attempt to discredit ideas without confronting them, a strategy the left is getting very good at.

It’s a sneaky way around freedom of speech and it needs to be recognized as such.

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