Archaeology students at one of Britain’s leading universities have been given permission to skip lectures if they feel they might be “triggered” by upsetting material like the scary skulls of dead people or traumatising accounts of how they met their ends.
This latest example of Special Snowflake Safe Space Lunacy comes from University College London, courtesy of a lecturer called Gabriel Moshenska.
Moshenska, who runs the Archaeologies of Modern Conflict course, felt it necessary to warn students that they might be required to learn about “historical events that may be disturbing, even traumatising”.
According to the Mail:
If they feel stressed, they can ‘step outside’ for the rest of the class ‘without penalty’, though they should catch up by copying the notes of another student.
Lecturer Gabriel Moshenska, who co-ordinates the UCL course on how archaeology can help unearth the truth about 20th and 21st century conflicts, said some students had been in the Armed Forces and may have suffered psychological trauma.
He admitted no one had ever complained that they found one of his talks upsetting and said the alert was ‘precautionary’.
So far, no student has taken Moshenska up on his safe space offer. Which is a comfort, of sorts. Except, isn’t the most worrying part of the story the plain fact that a member of the university faculty considered making that offer in the first place?
As Sam Hooper notes here, “snarling baby-faced SJW” students are one thing. But when the authorities become complicit in their precious snowflakery it spells cultural disaster:
But when professors provide even the option of leaving the classroom when confronted with learning material that arouses anything but positive emotions, they effectively legitimise the idea that words and ideas can cause actual physical harm, that being exposed to contrary viewpoints or shocking information is somehow dangerous, and that avoidance coping (staying away from things that upset you) actually works. In reality, there is no proof for any of these assertions, and many reasons to suspect that they are complete psychobabble hokum.
Indeed. The other big problem, of course, is that it threatens to create a generation of graduates manifestly unqualified to perform effectively in their supposed field of expertise: English literature graduates who can’t read the more challenging passages of English literature; law graduates who can’t cope with murder cases; battlefield archaeology graduates who are triggered by the site of scary bones of people who died horribly.
Brendan O’Neill gives some examples of this depressing phenomenon:
The trigger-warning trend, rampant on American campuses, is spreading in Britain. Before UCL’s warnings about archaeology, Royal Holloway was telling English Lit students that Ovid’s poems describe ‘domestic violence and other nasty things’, so they’d better brace themselves, or maybe avoid Ovid altogether. At Oxford, law students are warned that lectures on sexual violence can be ‘distressing’ and are given the ‘opportunity to leave’. In the future can we expect lawyers to flee the courtroom, screaming for a safe space, whenever murders are discussed or photos of injuries are shown? In the US, students have demanded trigger warnings on everything from The Great Gatsby (contains ‘suicide, domestic abuse and graphic violence’) to Shakespeare (some of his plays reference rape, murder, torture. Like Titus Andronicus. As a Penn State professor of literature says, ‘Everyone is traumatised by Titus’).
Really, though, if you’re an archaeology student specialising in 20th and 21st century conflicts and you can’t handle the psychological trauma caused by studying what happened in battles wouldn’t the most sensible thing to do be to change course: kitten studies, maybe; aromatherapy; dolphin watching; whale song composition; advanced nurturing and caringness – something like that, maybe?