Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

U of M debate: OK to warn students about potentially ‘disturbing’ class curriculum?

Author:

The controversial topic of "trigger warnings" has reached the campus of the University of Minnesota.

A story in USA Today explained trigger warnings require students to get a heads-up when explicit, offensive or possibly traumatic material appears in an assignment, lecture, article or work of art. They've been debated on a number of U.S. campuses.

"The goal of the warnings appears to be very idealistic," the story said, striving to protect survivors of violence or sexual abuse from disturbing content from a traumatic response.

MPR News reports a student-government panel at the University of Minnesota is reviewing a policy that would encourage faculty to warn students, both in class and on the syllabus, about material that could cause traumatic reactions. Student leaders also want professors to assign alternative materials to students and not hold them accountable for the material they say could trigger responses that include panic attacks.

The resolution's author, political science sophomore Abeer Syedah, hopes the U's faculty senate will implement its own policy encouraging the use of warnings. She envisions a short warning, such as: "Trigger Warning: Description of sexual assault, accounts of self harm and depression, discussion of suicide."

The Wake, the university's student-operated magazine, covered a September panel discussion that focused on the warnings.

A story headlined, "Trigger Warnings: Censorship or Courtesy?" included a comment from Angela Carter, a Ph.D. in feminist studies at the U. She said that "to be triggered is not to be offended; it is an unconscious reaction to past trauma." Carter likens the trigger warnings to the accommodations made for disabled individuals.

An editorial in the Minnesota Daily took on the issue last April.

"For students suffering with PTSD or other psychological disorders, trigger warnings make sense," said the editorial, written by the campus paper's editorial board.

"But there’s an important difference between trigger warnings for diagnosed illnesses and trigger warnings that allow any student to skip class when the material in lecture includes discontenting or graphic material," it continued, adding, "universities are not safe houses for students, and they should not protect students from uncomfortable or emotionally provocative lessons. This student-driven proposal seeks to shield other students from duress, and though it may be well-intentioned, it has no place in a community of intellectual growth."

The MPR story noted that "critics say it's not a university's job to protect students from disturbing material," but added that with large numbers of combat veterans and refugees from war-torn countries arriving on campus, the momentum for the warnings is growing.

Next Up

D'Angelo Russell

D'Lo's late takeover helps Timberwolves win double-OT thriller

Russell caught fire to help the Timberwolves get back to .500.

Gopher Football

Gophers suffocate Badgers, reclaim Paul Bunyan's Axe

Minnesota picked up its first home win over the Badgers since 2003.

Meeker County Sheriff's Office

Boy, 6, run over after falling off trailer in Meeker Co. tree farm accident

He was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center with internal injuries.

Target store

Target unveils deals for 2-day 'Cyber Monday' event

The promotion kicks off Sunday, November 28.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 9.59.30 AM

Edina police warn of recent burglary trend targeting garages and vehicles

The Edina Police Department is increasing patrols in affected neighborhoods in response to the trend.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 9.03.06 AM

Charges: Man shot Uber Eats driver making a delivery in Cottage Grove

Otis Donnell Shipp was charged with second-degree attempted murder after turning himself in on Wednesday.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 7.36.14 AM

Waterfront hotel in Duluth sustains damage in kitchen fire

Authorities estimate the damage at around $75,000.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 7.15.18 AM

Large groups of thieves target 2 Twin Cities Best Buys on Black Friday

It bears similarities to the flash-mob style thefts seen recently in California.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Timberwolves' winning streak snapped at five games

The Wolves' bid for their longest winning streak since 2014 came up short.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Teen arrested over fatal shooting of 5-year-old boy in Brooklyn Park

Police say the teen was filming a social media video while handling a gun.

Joe Biden

President Biden coming to Minnesota to promote Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Tuesday's trip follows passage of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.

Related