Tuesday, September 9, 2014

AAUP Says ‘Trigger Warnings’ Threaten Academic Freedom

The Chronicle of Higher Education
September 9th, 2014

The American Association of University Professors has taken a formal stand in opposition to “trigger warnings,” or advance notices to students that instructional material might elicit from them a troubling emotional response.
In a report issued on Monday, the AAUP argues that trigger warnings threaten academic freedom and the quality of instruction, and says there are better means of helping students who are the victims of trauma.
The use of trigger warnings suggests “that classrooms should offer protection and comfort rather than an intellectually challenging education,” says the statement, approved by the both AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure and its Committee on Women in the Academic Profession. Faculty members who are required or expected to issue trigger warnings might feel pressure to avoid certain topics for fear of being disciplined if the material they present elicits a traumatic response in any of their students. Nontenured and contingent faculty members, it says, “are particularly at risk.”

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