Law students at Oxford University, one of the world’s leading law schools, are being warned before lectures on violent subject matter that they can leave if they find the content too “distressing.”
University authorities have told teachers to “bear in mind” the potential for “triggering” students before teaching “potentially distressing” content.
One law student told the Daily Mail, “Before the lectures on sexual offences – which included issues such as rape and sexual assault – we were warned that the content could be distressing, and were then given the opportunity to leave if we needed to.”
However, some staff in the law faculty have scoffed at the new approach. Law lecturer Professor Laura Hoyano scorned the idea, delivering the warning to her students as a sarcastic joke.
“We can’t remove sexual offences from the criminal law syllabus – obviously. If you’re going to study law, you have to deal with things that are difficult,” she said.
An Oxford University spokesman said: ‘The university aims to encourage independent and critical thinking and does not, as a rule, seek to protect students from ideas or material they may find uncomfortable.”
“However, there may be occasions when a lecturer feels it is appropriate to advise students of potentially distressing subject matter.”
There are also trigger warnings appearing elsewhere at the university, with one English student claiming she was warned about Robert Lowell’s poem For The Union Dead, as it contains a racial epithet.
“We were warned that the poem contained a racial slur and that we could leave the room before it was read out or cover it up on the page,” she said.
Sociologist Professor Frank Furedi said: “Trigger warnings diminish the quality of intellectual freedom on campuses – as we’ve seen in America.”
“It’s really regrettable that Oxford, which used to be a bastion of academic excellence, is allowing these pressures to create conformism.”