Oxford University’s Trigger Warning

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The demand is twofold, that students at Oxford University should not be subjected to any material that is hateful or, to use the proper description, in disagreement with currently fashionable mores. Further, that any reading lists which contain anything even slightly uncomfortable should be headed by a trigger warning.

This does, of course, make certain areas of study rather hard. Given that most of history had views which offend those current mores it’s going to be difficult to do any work on what our forbears thought. Galton on statistics might be OK, but only if we don’t peer into some of the things Galton used statistics to have a look at. Chemistry might come under fire if sinister is still – if it ever was? – used to describe left spiral molecules as opposed to right. Any comparative study of religion’s going to be in a terrible mess of course, for denying the veracity of one Sky Fairy in favour of another, or none, will trigger some deeply held beliefs.

But this is what the students are demanding:

Oxford University students have voted against “ableist, classist and misogynistic” reading lists, claiming that they should not be forced to engage with any “hateful material”. Students should not be required to attend any lectures, tutorials or seminars, nor should they have to sit exams, which involve “hate speech” against a particular group, according to a new policy that the university’s student union has adopted.

The policy, called “Protection of Transgender, Non-binary, Disabled, Working Class, and Women Students from Hatred in University Contexts”, also says that academics should include “trigger warnings” at the top of reading lists to give advance notice of potentially distressing material….

There is a simple answer to this of course, there’s a simple answer to everything. Usually such simplicity is wrong but this solution has the merit of not being so.

Put the trigger warning on the application form. Some of the things in your time at Oxford will make you uncomfortable. This being rather the point of gaining an education. Don’t like it bugger off and fail to be well educated elsewhere.

That should do it, no?

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Meanwhile, the #glinnersisabigot hashtag shows that the quiltbag community is more than comfortable with hate speech against a group, so long as the right kind of people are doing the hating

Phoenix44
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Phoenix44

Why are men excluded from this? Surely no male student should have to put with the hateful things Feminists, Grievance Studies practioners and all the rest say? And then there’s the Tory scum, capitalist pig stuff.I’m happy to adopt this if it is fair and covers every form of hate speech, including all the stuff I find hateful.

Spike
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Spike

I’m all right with this as long as you rename it Oxford Montessori University, as in, we sit around and wait until the kids decide what it is they want to learn.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

It’s the Oxford University Students Union, made up (in my day, and I’m sure still) of a tiny group of leftist nutters and with no meaningful clout. Not to be confused with the Oxford Union, where future PMs go for training, or college JCRs which are at least reasonably representative of the student body.

john77
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john77

Our JCR voted overwhelmingly (I think there was one vote against) to secede from the OUSU because it was nutty and totally unrepresentative.

jgh
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jgh

I was having this argument in Hong Kong in 1992. “We don’t want to sit an exam about evolution!” Simple solution: don’t do the course.