Cornell University Rejects Mandated Trigger Warnings and “Toddler Culture”


“What was unique about the Cornell situation is they rapidly turned in a response that was a ‘hard no,’” said Alex Morey.

Cornell’s President Martha Pollack rejected the student government resolution to institute trigger warnings, reports The New York Times. It would have allowed students to opt out without penalty.

Less than a week after the resolution was submitted to the administration for approval, Martha E. Pollack, the university president, vetoed it.

“We cannot accept this resolution, as the actions it recommends would infringe on our core commitment to academic freedom and freedom of inquiry, and are at odds with the goals of a Cornell education,” President Martha Pollack and Provost Michael Kotlikoff wrote in a letter to the student body on April 3, less than one week after the resolution was approved.

“Learning to engage with difficult and challenging ideas,” they wrote, “is a core part of a university education: essential to our students’ intellectual growth, and to their future ability to lead and thrive in a diverse society.”

They said professors determine what they should teach.

Cornell President Martha Pollack

“What was unique about the Cornell situation is they rapidly turned in a response that was a ‘hard no,’” said Alex Morey, the director of campus rights advocacy for the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, a nonpartisan organization focused on issues of free speech. “There was no level of kowtowing. It was a very firm defense of what it means to get an education,” he told the NY Times.


The approved student government resolution, originally presented March 23, stated:“Student Assembly implores all instructors to provide content warnings on the syllabus for any traumatic content that may be discussed, including but not limited to: sexual assault, domestic violence, self-harm, suicide, child abuse, racial hate crimes, transphobic violence, homophobic harassment, xenophobia.”

“Be it finally resolved, students who choose to opt-out of exposure to triggering content will not be penalized, contingent on their responsibility to make up any missed content,” it continued.

Needless to say the children are upset.

“We have been characterized as triggered snowflakes,” said Shelby L. Williams, a sophomore who co-sponsored the resolution. “What we are asking for is greater context.”

They are triggered snowflakes.

Some professors support the use of trigger warnings. “When used correctly,” said Connor Strobel, a professor of social sciences at the University of Chicago, “trigger warnings can open up a conversation” with students, enabling professors to alert them to available resources.

Randy Wayne, an associate professor of biology at Cornell University, told The College Fix that he was pleased with the university’s rejection of Resolution 31. It was a big step in the rejection of “toddler culture” and offered hope in the institution’s return to “its classical liberal intellectual mission of education,” he said.

Professor Wayne also said he would be happy to include a content warning to his syllabi that states, “Warning: Everything I present in this class should trigger you to think and look at each issue from many perspectives.”

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