A letter outlining the University of Chicago’s freedom of expression policy went out to incoming freshman this week.
The Dean of Students, John Ellison, announced the school does “not support so-called ‘trigger warnings’” nor does it “condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’”.
Trigger warnings are content notifications that alert the reader of sensitive material. Safe spaces are places or forums for marginalized groups to convene and share without the risk of judgement from others.
Supporters of the school’s decision say those tactics can function as censorship, stymying the free exchange of diverse ideas on campus. Critics of the University of Chicago’s decision say students need to feel safe and comfortable before they can truly contribute to a debate and universities need to be more welcoming towards the needs of an increasingly diverse student body.
Will this elite school set a trend or lead other universities to distance themselves?
Nolan Cabrera, Ph.D.,assistant professor of education in the Center for the Study of Higher Education, University of Arizona; Cabrera's primary research interests include race/racism in higher education