University Of Chicago President Talks About How Trigger Warnings Suppress Free SpeechBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer has spoken out about why he and his administration do not support trigger warnings. This came after the issue on such warnings and safe spaces sparked debate in universities and colleges across the nation.
Last August, the University of Chicago sent a welcome letter to freshmen with a notice that the school does not support trigger warnings. With the institution's commitment to academic freedom, it will not cancel invited controversial speakers and will not tolerate the creation of intellectual safe spaces where students can retreat from ideas that are different from their own.
It was previously reported that trigger warnings are broadly defined as a disclaimer of sorts about content that could be triggering for someone with a history of trauma. These can be shown in various ways such as a note on a syllabus or a heads-up at the beginning of a lecture.
Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, University of Chicago President Robert Zimmerman said that issues should be contextualized with the main purpose of universities and colleges, which is to be a place that provides empowering education to students and produces an environment that fosters imaginative and challenging work of faculty. Critical to this is the ability of higher education institutions to create an environment where students can safely confront multiple ideas which may not always be similar to their own opinions.
Zimmerman admitted that he believes it is important that universities don't fall into becoming an environment that allows "a kind of suppression of speech." He added that higher education institutions should not allow discomfort with different ideas to develop a chilled environment for discourse.
The University of Chicago President, who taught at the school in the 1970s, also said that there has been a shift in discourse. He claimed that there are a lot of students, nowadays, who feel that they can stifle the freedom of expression of people who believe in fundamentally different views.