Protecting Those Most Sensitive

Frank Lopez

More stories from Frank Lopez

College is where you go to learn and expose yourself to new ideas.

It’s a sentiment that we hear throughout our society, and it holds true for most students. All the required science and humanities classes present a variety of ideas and information that a student can interpret and perhaps use in their own life.

As is much too common in our times, the hypersensitive liberals are trying to lambast and restrict the use of language and imagery that people may find offensive.

“That’s racist”; “That’s sexist”; “That’s homophobic”.

This trend of political correctness is coddling young people from the “real world” and it is stifling our freedom of speech. The PC Police are trying encroach on our colleges with their liberal agenda.

These criticisms of political correctness are misguided and extreme.

But a teacher simply warning students that the class will be covering potentially offensive material does not infringe on anyone’s right to free speech.

University and college professors are providing trigger warnings in their

syllabuses to inform students that they will be covering material that some might find offensive; racism, war, sexual content, etc.

Anti-PC critics argue that such practices are counterproductive to the whole point of a college education and that it is just accommodating entitled minority groups and young people who don’t want to face the harshness of “reality.”

However, a teacher warning their students that they will be covering some sensitive topics in class is not something to be despised. Long held assumptions about race, class, gender, and sexual orientation are being questioned, and dismissing it as complaints from an entitled generation is another way to ignore dissenting voices.

As much as students should explore all social and political issues, it is up to them to get what they want out of their education. A teacher giving their students a trigger warning for offensive material does not hinder their education.

First of all, as much as we like to get lost in the romanticism and treacle of the college

experience, we have to remember one thing — college is a business. And like any other business, it works better when everything flows smoothly.

Teachers will be better able to perform their duties if they are not constantly having to deal with students who might disrupt the learning environment for others. That is not to say that students should not question or challenge their professors, but if the material inhibits the student from succeeding, then they should try a professor with a different method of teaching.

If teachers first inform students that they will be covering offensive materials from the very beginning, that student can better prepare their reactions, or choose to drop the class.

In 2010, FCC professor Brad Lopez made the news when it was discovered that he was presenting anti-gay material in his health classes. The college later reassigned him to a different teaching position where he could not present his personal views on homosexuality.  Perhaps if Lopez had warned his students from the very beginning that he would be relying on the Bible to espouse his anti-gay views and call it science, students could have dropped his class, or reported him earlier.

If college is the place where we are to learn new ideas, then we must remember to view the world from the perspectives of others, and consider that they might see the world in a different way..  It would be insensitive to call female victim of domestic abuse who feels uncomfortable in a women’s studies class, sensitive. We cannot just tell students who have been through traumatic life events to, “just get over it.”

There is no official state law or rules enforced by colleges that require teachers to give trigger warnings, and it is up to the teachers if they want to provide warnings for their students.

Many people go to college for different reasons. Some for their careers, others to find

themselves and others just want to learn.

Putting yourself in other people’s shoes is a way to confront your own thinking. To understand that people from different backgrounds and different cultures do not always hold the same customs, beliefs, and traditions as yourself, is a way to expose yourself to new ideas. College is not for teaching us what to think, but how to think.

And maybe thinking about other people is what college is really all about.