University won’t support ‘trigger warnings,’ ‘safe spaces’

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by Alex Kirkpatrick, Digital Editor

CHICAGO — The University of Chicago has disregarded the notion of “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” in a letter that has gone viral since being made public, reiterating the private university’s commitment to freedom of speech.

Trigger warnings are statements at the beginning of writings to alert readers of potentially offensive or traumatic material, such as discussions about sexual assault and race. Safe spaces refer to places where students can convene to be sheltered from certain speakers and topics.

Dean of students Dr. John Jay Ellison wrote the letter, saying in part: “Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

The letter specifies that freedom expression is not equivalent to “freedom to harass or threaten others.” The goal, Ellison said, is to build “a campus that welcomes all backgrounds.”

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Read the full letter here: