The prestigious University of Chicago has churned out some impressive alumni including four U.S. Attorney Generals, five state governors, six heads of state, 16 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 89 Nobel Prize winners. If you want to follow in their footsteps and become the next global influencer, but you also feel as though you need to be protected from scary words, then you should seek another institution of higher learning. That is because the University of Chicago took a brave and no-nonsense stance on trigger warnings and safe spaces that have crept into college campuses around the country.
Fragile special snowflakes are not going to like what John Ellison, the Dean of Students at the University of Chicago, had to say about safe spaces and trigger warnings. In a welcome letter to the incoming Class of 2020, Ellison told coddled students that enough is enough.
“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.”
In a bold defense of the First Amendment, Ellison says, “Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn, without fear of censorship.”
The university will not offer emotional protection from speech that some may see as offensive. Ellison admits that this may not be as comforting as the warm and fuzzy blankie that some are familiar with, “At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.”
“Diversity of opinion and background is a fundamental strength of our community, the letter states. “The members of our community must have the freedom to espouse and explore a wide range of ideas.”
The letter makes it very clear that “the freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to harass or threaten others.”
The University of Chicago is incredibly selective and only about 8% of the more than 31,000 people who applied to enter the class of 2020 were accepted.
This is not a politically correct stance to take, and at a time when colleges are typically seen as predominantly liberal-leaning, this is a gutsy decision to come out and directly stand against these progressive devices of perceived protection. I commend John Ellison for his bravery.
This climate of hypersensitivity that is demanded by a small percentage of very vociferous splinter groups have changed the entire culture on the college campus. And it appears that people are getting sick of it. First, there was “The Chalkening” where Pro-Trump supporters wrote “VOTE FOR TRUMP” in erasable chalk messages on college campuses. There seemed to be so many chalk writings that there was probably students who didn’t even like Donald Trump, but were just exhausted of people feigning “outrage” who wrote pro-Trump displays just to “offend” people. Now, there is the unshakable and deliberate move by the University of Chicago to denounce this relatively new cultivation of people pretending to be offended only to garner attention and sympathy.
There have been instances of safe spaces mutating from something that was meant to protect students into much more disturbing and worrying reincarnations. As we saw at University of Missouri, protestors and faculty alike blocked access to a public area to a student journalist who was covering the demonstration on campus. That is where assistant professor of mass media, Melissa Click, attempted to grab Tim Tai’s camera in an intentional violation of the Freedom of Press. The communications instructor then yelled, “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here.” Click was fired.
That controversy and others may have contributed to the steep decline in enrollment this year:
Undergraduate enrollment is down more than 2,100 students, or almost 8 percent, this semester compared to fall 2015, and almost three-quarters of that loss comes from the freshman class. As of the first day of classes, Mizzou enrolled 4,799 freshmen — the smallest class in almost a decade. That number is down more than 1,600 incoming freshmen from fall 2015.
There have been several other examples of safe spaces transforming into something that is concerning and regressive. On the prominent college campuses of UC Berkeley, NYU, and UCLA, black students have demanded segregated safe spaces.
Who decides what a trigger warning is? What if I got stung by a bee when I was 5-years-old and it was a traumatic moment of my life. Do professors have to go around and ask each student what devastating life experiences they have so that they can give a warning to the students before they broach the topic of bumble bees in an environmental science course? Topics such as sex, race, capitalism, and colonialism can all be argued by delicate social justice warriors that they all require trigger warnings before being taught in a classroom.
Speech censorship has gone so overboard at colleges that the statement, “America is the land of opportunity” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job” have both been deemed as “offensive.”
“One of my biggest concerns about trigger warnings is that they will apply not just to those who have experienced trauma, but to all students, creating an atmosphere in which they are encouraged to believe that there is something dangerous or damaging about discussing difficult aspects of our history.”
Trigger warnings are a slippery slope that SJW’s will take to the nth degree to bring attention to themselves and to have the entire class throw a pity party for them.
Sorry kiddies, but Chicago is doing their best to prepare you for the real world where safe spaces and trigger warnings do not exist. Luckily, if you do believe you need trigger warnings and safe spaces there are plenty of institutions that will grant your infantile requests and happily take your money.