A coalition of free speech and educational organizations is standing up to the proliferation of “trigger warnings” on college campuses. And it appears they may already be having an impact—days after they sent a letter to one California college, the school reversed its decision to include “disclaimers” in potentially disturbing novels.
Earlier this year, a student at California’s Crafton Hills College demanded that her school remove four out of ten books from a English class on graphic novels, citing offensive content. While the school declined to remove the books from their curriculum, they initially did agree to place a “disclaimer” on them.
In response, as Campus Reform reported, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) joined together with other national groups to send a letter to Crafton Hills, in which they argued that placing a warning on school materials would “pose a significant threat to the methods and goals of higher education.”
“Trigger warnings threaten not just academic freedom, but also the quality of education students receive,” the letter reads. “A great deal of valuable educational material contains content that students might find upsetting or objectionable.”
It goes on to note that “trigger warnings” may distort how students experience a text, or chill classroom discussion.
A number of other national groups signed the letter, including the American Association of University Professors, National Council of Teachers of English, Association of American Publishers, the PEN American Center, and American Booksellers for Free Expression.
On Wednesday, Crafton Hills announced that they had changed their minds on the “disclaimers.”
“Upon further reflection, we have all agreed that including a disclaimer on any course syllabus is not a solution,” president Dr. Cheryl Marshall wrote in a statement. “It sets an unhealthy precedent by allowing any one person or group to decide on educational content. Furthermore, it discourages free expression of views and speech which are essential components of academic freedom.”