Marco_palmezzano,_crocifissione_degli_UffiziThe new catchword on campuses is “triggering.”  Universities now warn students about any possible “trigger” that might upset them in curriculum or even faculty lectures.  Monash University now issues triggering warnings for courses like Surgeon General warnings on a pack of cigarettes.   At the University of Glasgow, theology students are being warned in advance that, in courses dealing with Christ, they may see distressing images of crucifixion.

Clockwork_orangeAAt Monash, students are warned if class discussion might raise issues of sexual assault, violence, domestic abuse, child abuse, eating disorders, self-harm, suicide, pornography, abortion, kidnapping, hate speech, animal cruelty and animal deaths including slaughterhouses.  It is hard to imagine a course that does not touch on an issue of “violence” or possible “hate speech”, particularly with the ever widening definition of hate speech and microaggressions.  Even English classes deal with slaughterhouses in works like The Jungle or Animal Farm.  You will find violence in works ranging from War and Peace to The Great Gatsby.  Indeed, Clockwork Orange is triggering from front to end.

It is hard to imagine a law class that did not hit at least a couple of these categories.  Even civil procedure can deal with violent or abusive or hateful subjects.  For torts and criminal law, the warning could be a virtual syllabus for the term.

There is rising criticism over the catering to what has become known derisively as the “Snowflake” generation of students.  That concern was magnified with the trigger warnings placed on the Glasgow court of “Creation to Apocalypse: Introduction to the Bible (Level 1).”  It would be rather difficult to study Christ if you are triggered by references to crucifixion.  It is a bit central to the story.

At Stirling University, there are trigger warnings in an archeology courses for students who would be triggered by . . .  you guessed it  . . . archeological finds like preserved bodies.  The university warns “We cannot anticipate or exclude the possibility that you may encounter material which is triggering [ie, which can trigger a negative reaction] and we urge that you take all necessary precautions to look after yourself in and around the programme.”