Sep 16, 2016 06:35 AM EDT
University Of Chicago Law Professors Believe That 'Unpleasant Aspects Of Human Existence' Vital For Legal Education
The University of Chicago stirred up a bit of controversy in the past weeks after it took a stand against "safe spaces" on its campus. The declaration was slammed with criticisms, saying that the school is not protecting its students especially those who have a history of trauma.
"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, University of Chicago's dean of students, wrote in a letter to freshmen.
Trigger warnings are broadly defined as a disclaimer of sorts about content that could be triggering for someone with a history of trauma. Being exposed to content with triggers can be psychologically harmful to people with mental illness. It's more than just being uncomfortable.
According to The Wall Street Journal, faculty of the University of Chicago have attached their names to a public letter addressed to new students. They are saying that trigger warnings and safe spaces are legitimate checks against intimidation and emotional trauma.
Interestingly, though, among the 150+ professors, not one law professor has signed the letter. Apparently, it was not widely circulated around the law school. Nonetheless, it has generated little enthusiasm among the legal educators.
"I'd be surprised if anyone would sign on to this," Chicago law professor Brian Leiter, a professor of jurisprudence and legal philosophy, said. "You can't get a legal education without studying the most unpleasant aspects of human existence: murder, rape, treachery, betrayal, dishonesty."
Leiter added that in the University of Chicago, "all views get to be heard as long as you can argue for them." "It's the essence of the institution. if certain ideas offend, tough noogies," he said, adding that his law school values civility."
One of the school's constitutional scholars as well as its former university provost, Geoffrey Stone, believes that Dean Ellison's letter was misunderstood. He told CNN that his school is just not requiring trigger warnings and not altogether prohibiting them.
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