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,” John Ellison, dean of students, wrote to members of the class of 2020, who will arrive next month.
So what. A restatement of, particularly in the university setting, should be the glaringly obvious.
Except, as any mild familiarity with that clown car we charmingly refer to us a liberal arts education, it is instead a pointed reminder to any potential students to look elsewhere for cosseting and indoctrination.
Except for the reflexive nod in the direction of journalistic bias — in what regard is The Federalist conservative? — the story is pretty well balanced. Along the way, they quoted Kevin Gannon — aka The Tattooed Professor — who teaches history at Grand View University in Des Moines. Trigger Warning: Elitism, Gatekeeping and Other Academic Crap certainly let me know what to expect, and I was not disappointed.
There are several paras of bloviation and cant, and the assumption that the University of Chicago's letter was an effect without cause.
Then, and I'm sure you, too, saw this coming from a semester away:
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the backlash against so-called “political correctness” in higher education has intensified in direct variation with the diversification of the academy, areas of scholarship, and-most significantly-the student population.
Because racism and sexism.
Then he provides the rationale for trigger warnings:
For every ginned-up hypothetical scenario of spoiled brats having a sit-in to protest too many white guys in the lit course, there are very real cases where trigger warnings or safe spaces aren’t absurdities, but pedagogical imperatives. If I’m teaching historical material that describes war crimes like mass rape, shouldn’t I disclose to my students what awaits them in these texts? If I have a student suffering from trauma due to a prior sexual assault, isn’t a timely caution the empathetic and humane thing for me to do?
Aside from the obligatory nod in the direction of racism — progressives must have a quota to fill — he calls into question either his professional competence, or his students' intelligence. Could be both How so? If Prof Tats is competent then his syllabi will describe the course and associated materials in sufficient detail to let students know what they are getting in for. Syllabi are themselves trigger warning.
Competently prepared that is.
Meaning students don't need trigger warnings. If they exercise sufficient due diligence, that is.
And that is before getting to the information problem: how are professors to know their students' sensitivities?
But wait, there's more. Just as coercion follows socialism, so censorship follow progressive academics:
To move from the hypothetical to the real, the Virginia Tech students who protested their university’s invitation to Charles Murray to deliver a lecture weren’t some sort of intellectual gestapo, they were members of a community calling out other members’ violation of the community’s ethos. Murray is a racist charlatan who’s made a career out of pseudoscientific social darwinist assertions that certain “races” are inherently inferior to others.To bring him to campus is to tell segments of your student community that, according to the ideas the university is endorsing by inviting Murray, they don’t belong there. This isn’t a violation of academic freedom. It’s an upholding of scientific standards and the norms of educated discourse-you know, the type of stuff that colleges and universities are supposed to stand for, right?
Translated: disagreement is verboten.
Prof Tat has no qualms about stopping other people hearing about something with which he clearly has no knowledge.
Not that has ever been a barrier to progressives; after all, every idea they have is true because they have it.
Perhaps the UoC was really just engaged in trolling, as both the story and various comments charge. Alternatively, the UoC may have perceived a coming collapse of universities as a concept, and wants to distance the UoC brand as much as possible.
Oh, and providing fair warning that students whose SJW zealotry inclines them towards thought policing, to either restrain that zealotry, face expulsion, or go elsewhere.