A proponent of individual rights says the Oklahoma Student Government Association has passed a “chilling” resolution asking state legislators to force all college professors to issue “trigger warnings” in their classrooms.
The Association represents all students enrolled in Oklahoma colleges and universities. Tyler Coward of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) says such a law would be difficult to enforce because the list of “trigger warnings” continues to grow.
“Increasingly the list grows longer and longer to include a variety of topics including drug use, eating disorders, or any other thing that might potentially upset students,” Coward explains. “So by mandating trigger warnings in the classroom, it actually does create a chilling effect for professors which will harm their ability to run their classrooms and actually educate their students.”
A New York Times article defines “trigger warnings” as “explicit alerts that the material [students] are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans.”
Coward doubts any legislator would want to introduce such a bill, but if it were to become law, he also doubts it could withstand a legal challenge.
“I would think that there would be a very good constitutional claim under academic freedom and free speech that a law like this that would be passed would be unlikely to pass constitutional muster,” the FIRE legislative counsel submits.
FIRE believes it should be up to individual instructors if they want to issue “trigger warnings,” and the Foundation would fight any effort to turn legislation of this sort into law.
Copyright American Family News. Reprinted with permission.