AAUP report says that trigger warnings threaten academic freedom

September 10, 2014

The American Association of University Professors has formally ruled that institutionally mandated trigger warnings constitute a threat to academic freedom. In a statement released on Monday the AAUP said trigger warnings may pressure faculty members to avoid some topics and that nontenured and contingent faculty members “are particularly at risk.” “The presumption that students need to be protected rather than challenged in a classroom is at once infantilizing and anti-intellectual,” the report says. “It makes comfort a higher priority than intellectual engagement.” The AAUP also noted its concern that trigger warnings may be applied to academic libraries, pointing to an American Library Association statement against labeling and rating systems that were also derived from a demand for trigger warnings. The ALA said that such labels were “a censor’s tool.” The AAUP goes so far as to suggest that even voluntary use of trigger warnings could be “counterproductive to the educational experience.” “The classroom is not the appropriate venue to treat PTSD,” the statement says, and suggests that such cases should be referred to student health services. The Chronicle of Higher Education | AAUP Report