MLI senior fellow Ken Coates was recently part of a panel discussion on CBC Radio’s The Current, discussing how universities should treat potentially disturbing material in class, and how to avoid triggering emotional distress in students. CBC notes that Oberlin College in Ohio “has passed a motion that requires professors to ‘be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, able-ism, and other issues of privilege and oppression.’ It also calls on professors to remove triggering material — anything that may cause a damaging emotional response — when it doesn’t directly contribute to learning goals. It also encourages professors to ‘strongly consider’ making triggering material optional.”
Coates, who is Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation at the University of Saskatchewan’s Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and author of Campus Confidential: 100 Startling Things You Don’t Know About Canadian Universities, was joined on the panel by Carrie Rentschler of McGill University and Raechel Tiffe of Merrimack College. Coates argued that universities are very concerned with the psychological well-being of students and have many mechanisms to help them, but the he doesn’t support warnings on class materials. “The world has changed and I think we should be really careful about being overprotective of university students”, Coates said.
To listen to audio of the discussion click here.