Students at the University of Aberdeen have voted to add trigger warnings to lectures, claiming that they needed to be protected from “upsetting” content.
According to The Times, the University of Aberdeen’s Student Council voted for a motion that supported adding “content warnings on all subjects that may cause harm to students,” also known as “trigger warnings” to all lectures at the university. The student that proposed the change argued that all students should be “protected” from a long list of topics, ranging from “animal abuse, racism, sexual abuse and harassment, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, ableism, homophobia and transphobia.”
The motion, proposed by the Student Association’s Welfare Officer-elect Ivana Drdáková, went on to claim that there were “multiple instances where the university failed to provide content warnings in their communications,” and that “the introduction of content warnings would serve to self-guard students from reading and hearing about subjects that may cause harm to them.”
Drdáková, a literature student, noted that she “does not like to read about” certain distressing content in her course, and said that she was “very lucky” that such trigger warnings were already included by her lecturer. She claimed that this was not an attack on “freedom of expression,” as some argued:
This policy does not stop the university from talking about these subjects. It just calls on it to better safeguard students by presenting content warnings and provide a list of resources when needed. Students are still going to be exposed to all the material, they will just be aware of what they can expect and prepare emotionally. We all need to be more accepting and aware of people surrounding us and their experiences and protect each other.
National File exclusively reported last month on the case of Elizabeth Heverin, a student at the University of Aberdeen, who was banned from the Student Association for two weeks after saying “Rule Britannia” and defending the British military during a Student Council meeting in December. Heverin spoke exclusively to National File about the adding of trigger warnings to lectures, noting that university is “supposed to be a place where ideas are shared and challenged”:
It’s alarming that trigger warnings are being implemented, when students going into lectures already knowing what to expect. This policy will make students comes across as weak, that they can not handle subject matters that are common in everyday life. A darkening day in what to expect in our future generation. It will create a window into what is acceptable to talk about and what is not. However I highly doubt the university itself will take this policy seriously.
A spokesman for the university said that they were aware that the motion had been passed, but noted that “this is being reviewed but is still in very early stage discussions and no decisions have been made at this stage.”