Cornell University Refuses Trigger Warnings

Cornell University Refuses Trigger Warnings

( – The student government at Cornell University has been unsuccessful in getting the administration to agree to its demand that an alert about triggers be placed on all course syllabi.

Cornell should take a careful look at how its current generation of students regard receiving a college education, according to attorney Alex Morey. He said that the unanimous vote by the student government at Cornell on the trigger warning issue should compel the university to do so.

On March 23, students voted unanimously to pass Resolution 31, requiring instructors to give students notification before showing graphically distressing content that could cause PTSD symptoms. It also requires instructors not to punish students who choose to avoid viewing such materials.

Cornell claims that the resolution undermines its commitment to free speech and intellectual research on campus. A student’s education and the prestige of a Cornell education would suffer if they were given the option to skip classes that included content they found upsetting.

As a cornerstone of higher education, the principle of academic freedom guarantees teachers the autonomy to decide what and how they instruct their students, so long as they use the ethics of a professional with competence. They shouldn’t introduce controversial material that has nothing to do with the course subject. The right to pursue one’s own line of investigation in the pursuit of knowledge is guaranteed by the principle of academic freedom.

The university additionally worries that the resolution will have a negative effect on educators, who will be afraid to bring a discussion into unfamiliar and difficult territory for fear of being criticized, which will prevent students from freely discussing and asking questions in class.

Although she supports Cornell University’s shared governance model, Student Assembly President Valeria Valencia was disheartened to learn that President Pollack had rejected Resolution 31 from the Student Assembly. She does not believe that content warnings, if implemented in Cornell classes, would violate students’ rights to free expression or education. The only motivation for the creation of this resolution was to provide aid to the student body.

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