A welcome letter was sent out to newly accepted incoming students of the University of Chicago, informing them the school does not support nor condone "safe spaces" and "trigger warnings," nor does it cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and social justice warriors (SJW) aka special snowflakes across the web are freaking out about it.
The letter was written by Dean of Students John (Jay) Ellison, who congratulates and welcomes incoming students, then tells them "Once here you will discover that one of University of Chicago's defining characteristics is our commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression. This is captured in the University's faculty report on freedom of expression. Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn, without fear of censorship. Civility and mutual respect are vital to all of us, and freedom of expression does not mean freedom to harass or threaten others. You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.
Novel idea huh? A college declaring that the University will be a place of learning and sometimes having to discuss and debate ideas that do not align with any one mindset, might cause a little discomfort.... but it is the next paragraph that has liberal websites, social justice warriors and those we call "special snowflakes" completely freaking out, as the Dean basically informs incoming students there will be no diaper stations and all Prozac covered binkies will be checked at the door.
"Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called 'trigger warnings,' we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual 'safe spaces' where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own."
Of course SJW and special snowflakes over at New Republic aren't letting facts get int he way of having their hissy fits and declaring "Prior to Ellison’s letter, University of Chicago professors had the right to use trigger warnings or not use them. Now, if a professor decides to use them, he or she will face administrative opposition." They also claim the letter and policy is "attacking academic freedom."
Institutional requirements or even suggestions that faculty use trigger warnings interfere with faculty academic freedom in the choice of course materials and teaching methods. Faculty might feel pressured into notifying students about course content for fear that some students might find it disturbing. Of course there may be instances in which a teacher judges it necessary to alert students to potentially difficult material and that is his or her right. Administrative requirements are different from individual faculty decisions. Administration regulation constitutes interference with academic freedom; faculty judgment is a legitimate exercise of autonomy.
The letter is above, does it say anywhere in there that professors would face "opposition" if they did offer a trigger warning? How is it an "attack" on academic freedom to allow educators to decide whether or not to offer a "trigger warning" without fear of harassment by the students if they do not think one is needed, as happened to Rani Neutill, a professor of ten years, who believed in trigger warnings, until ever single thing she tried to teach caused some special snowflake to be triggered anyway. Neutill has an eye opening piece at Slate, where she begins by stating "I believed in trigger warnings when I taught a course on sex and film. Then they drove me out of the academy."
In a US News and World Report article titled From 'Megaphones to Muzzles,' we see a quote by Greg Lukianoff, who has written extensively on the topic of the modern campus environment, who states "I think we're teaching this generation of students the intellectual habits that will make them anxious and depressed. If they think there will [always] be someone out there with the power to police" speech, "that's setting students up to be constantly enraged and frustrated with the world."
Interestingly enough that ties in with a recent Boston.CBS.Local article which quotes Dr. Gene Beresin, a psychiatrist and Executive Director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital, who says "50% to 60% of college students have a psychiatric disorder."
"What I’m including in that is the use of substances, anxiety, depression, problems with relationships, break-ups, academic problems, learning disabilities, attentional problems," says Dr. Beresin. "If you add them all up 50% doesn’t seem that high."
Those numbers speak volumes as to what is happening to students at college today, in an atmosphere where coddling has become the norm, where avoiding controversial topics comes before education, and where the position of students and educators appears to be turned around, with students being allowed to run the show, decide the topics, drive staff to resign, and think they are there to teach the school, faculty and educators, rather than the other way around.
We are creating a generation of mentally unstable children that will be completely unprepared for the real world when they graduate.
The special snowflakes over at the far left liberal site Vox, is freaking out over the University of Chicago letter as well, plus they attempt to claim that students who are allowed to shout down or dictate that an invited speaker be disinvited simply because the subject matter might offend their delicate sensibilities, are really cases of students "challenging" the schools choices and holding them "accountable."
The Vox writer has one thing right, it is about power, but not the power they claim in their holier-than-though drivel they spew, but the power of the educators to truly educate. The power of a University to actually prepare students for a life after college where there are no "safe spaces" or "trigger warnings" because life doesn't give trigger warnings and they don't offer safe spaces outside the home.
When terrorists attack they do not yells out "TRIGGER WARNING" and give people a chance to run before slaughtering them and the certainly don't provide them with a safe space. When an armed burglar enters a home they don't scream "trigger warning" before robbing you. When a tornado, or earthquake hits, no one is able to offer a "trigger warning" nor provide a safe space.
Kudos to UChicago for taking back the right to teach and prapre their students for the real world and providing an example to other colleges across the nation.