Several liberal students and writers are criticizing the University of Chicago after it cautioned incoming students earlier this week to not expect "trigger warnings" and "safe spaces" during their time at the school.
Some of the frustration came from the university's own Eric Holmberg, president of the executive committee of the student government at UChicago. He told DNA Info that the cautionary letter, sent by the college's dean, was a "poor introduction to the intellectual environment."
In a welcome letter to freshmen, the College made clear that it does not condone safe spaces or trigger warnings: https://t.co/9ep3n0ZbgV— The Chicago Maroon (@The Chicago Maroon)1472074307.0
"Coming out against trigger warnings in the name of ‘academic freedom’ does suggest a misunderstanding of the term," he said. "Incoming freshmen should be invited to participate in our active intellectual environment with their whole selves, but are instead being told that they must check their compassion and their experiences at the door."
Another student, Simone Brandford-Altsher, who works with the campus sexual assault survivors network, asserted UChicago's leadership "has a huge problem with transparency, and they have been slow to address issues related to sexual violence, disability injustice, police discrimination and many more."
Furthermore, Vox published an op-ed decrying the university's "anti-safe spaces letter," which the writer suggested is actually about "power" and not "academic freedom." The editorial defended students shouting down invited speakers because it is a way to "challenge" professors and hold them "accountable" for their ingrained biases.
Several students blasted UChicago on social media for the stance, which was wrongly described by some as a ban. One student said the warning is less about exposing students to various viewpoints and more about "telling them they have a right to be offensive."
UofC isn't so much challenging students to think critically about sensitive topics as it is telling them they have a right to be offensive— ❄Mikki Kendall❄ (@❄Mikki Kendall❄)1472129945.0
Having heard UofC students be openly racist on public transit (and then be shocked by reactions) their problems run deeper than safe space— ❄Mikki Kendall❄ (@❄Mikki Kendall❄)1472129871.0
There were some who hit the school for their "horrible experiences" at the university.
How fitting, given the horrible experience I (and other Black and brown) had last summer at @UofC in our program. https://t.co/nKpxMmH8HN— y’all don’t read the room 🥴 (@y’all don’t read the room 🥴)1472136295.0
For what it's worth, I loved my time at the University of Chicago, but only because I kept my head down and stayed in a very particular lane— Derek Davison (@Derek Davison)1472222767.0
Of course, I never had occasion to take any courses with profs in the Milton Friedman Institute for Screwing the Third World or whatever— Derek Davison (@Derek Davison)1472223175.0
The same dean who wrote this letter regularly refused meetings with students, including those working to improve the sexual assault policy— Tyler Kissinger (@Tyler Kissinger)1472165583.0
In this regard, it's clear that UChicago is not a "safe space" -- for women, queer ppl, and all ppl who experience sexual violence— Tyler Kissinger (@Tyler Kissinger)1472165737.0
And in the opinion of the New Republic, the letter from the dean shows the college is "attacking academic freedom" by trying to get students to warm up to the idea of being exposed to topics and ideals that make them uncomfortable.
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