Oberlin Pulls the Trigger Warnings

In an unexpected burst of common sense, Oberlin College has tabled its new policy on “trigger warnings,” the alerts that were scheduled to be given to sensitive students about upcoming class material that might traumatize them. The warnings directly concerned sex, violence and racism, but were called for across the board “to anything that might cause trauma,” the Oberlin policy said. “Be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression. Realize that all forms of violence are traumatic, and that your students have lives before and outside your classroom, experiences you may not expect or understand.”

Given this broad mandate, it was not clear how professors could teach at all without delivering a blizzard of warnings to ease student discomfort. And like many college policies these days, it’s not entirely clear whether the text was inadvertently close to satire or just satire itself.

John Leo

John Leo is the editor of Minding the Campus, dedicated to chronicling imbalances within higher education and restoring intellectual pluralism to our American universities. His popular column, "On Society," ran in U.S.News & World Report for 17 years.

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