Oberlin Debates Wisdom of Trigger Warnings on Every Last Thing

Oberlin College is considering the controversial possibility of revising its policy on trigger warnings in order to allow professors to teach "books" and other academic material, rather than just reciting trigger warnings nonstop all semester. Is the world ready?

Of course, making jokes about a topic as reliable as trigger warnings at Oberlin is as easy as (Triggers: violence, speciesism, offensively tedious cliches) shooting fish in a barrel. It is easy to expect the worse from Oberlin, the sort of school that lies at a point on political spectrum where the left wing is bent by the force of its own heady weight into a circle that connects back to the right wing. So we will look on the bright side: today's story, via Inside Higher Ed, is actually about Oberlin maybe changing its trigger warning policy, meaning that there is still a significant presence on Oberlin's campus of "teachers" who would like to "teach" things.

Why is the trigger warning policy causing such uproar? Well, for example:

The policy said that "anything could be a trigger," and advised professors to "[r]emove triggering material when it does not contribute directly to the course learning goals."

In the event that a work is "too important to avoid," the policy said professors could issue a trigger warning by avoiding "spoilers" but giving a "hint about what might be triggering about the material," and explaining its academic value.

For example, it said, "Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is a triumph of literature that everyone in the world should read. However, it may trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide, and more."

Liberalism and equality will not truly triumph until it is possible to graduate from Oberlin with a degree in literature without being forced to read any books.

[Photo: AP]