An elite British university has banned the phrase “trigger warning” because the term may in itself be too “provocative” and trigger students.
The University of Warwick in the West Midlands region of England first officially introduced trigger warnings in classes in 2019 to prepare students for supposedly upsetting or offensive content. However, the school still received several complaints from students surrounding material within drama and literature courses.
In response, Warwick scrapped the phrase “trigger warning” for being too “provocative” in itself. A freedom of information request from the Mail on Sunday uncovered the new guidance, which has updated the warnings to be referred to as “content notes”.
“Trigger warnings are now referred to as ‘content notes’ due to the word ‘trigger’ being itself a provocative word,” the university guidance said.
One such ‘content note’ states: “Studying literature necessarily involves confronting particular ideas, words and experiences that you might find offensive, upsetting, or disturbing. All of the modules you take in the department will involve material that can be difficult for some people, even traumatic.”
A spokesman for the university said that Warwick makes it practice to help students handle “difficult and complex questions”.
The spokesman added that the university’s English and Comparative Literary Studies department “has always had strategies in place to address these questions, although the way these strategies are flagged has changed.”
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Trigger warnings have become increasingly commonplace in British education, with a taxpayer-funded project from Cambridge University even adding the warnings to classic children’s books including from Dr Seuss over alleged racism.
Greenwich University has also adopted the new phraseology of ‘content notes’ earlier this year. Over 80 plays, novels, and films have been stamped with the warnings, ironically including George Orwell’s dystopian classic 1984. The warnings have been added to a translation of The Odyssey by Homer and H. G. Wells’s War Of The Worlds as well for containing subjects that may be seen as “not comfortable”.
Students at Greenwich were also told that reading tragedies from William Shakespeare may be “emotionally challenging” as they are “riddled with representations of violence and the suffering caused by violent acts.”
The use of trigger warnings has extended beyond universities and into British society as a whole, with the BBC going so far as to add a warning to a 2020 reunion episode of the classic Will Smith comedy show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air earlier this year.
The decision to scrap the term “trigger warning” by Warwick University was criticised by Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, who accused the school of babying students.
“Warwick’s decision to take offence at the word trigger is ludicrous. How is this preparing students for a life in the outside world? Who is actually calling for these trigger or content warnings? Is it resilient young people or woke-afflicted academics?” he questioned.
Bridgen continued: “When I attended university, it was to be educated and prepared for the world of work. It now appears our universities are preparing their students for a world of woke.”
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