AUBURN, Ala. — An Auburn University professor used his fall semester syllabus to poke fun at “trigger warnings,” a growing part of the culture of political correctness that seems to be sweeping college campuses around the country.
A trigger warning is defined as “a statement at the start of a piece of writing, video, etc., alerting the reader or viewer to the fact that it contains potentially distressing material.”
Such warnings have become standard fare on many college campuses–so much so, in fact, that Auburn engineering professor Peter Schwartz saw it as an opportunity to make a joke to his incoming students.
“TRIGGER WARNING,” Prof. Schwartz wrote in bold red letters atop his fall semester syllabus, before alerting his students that they should expect his class to include “physics, trigonometry, sine, cosine, tangent, vector, force, work, energy, stress, quiz, grade.”
Prof. Schwartz gave Yellowhammer some background on what prompted his tongue-in-cheek statement.
“During the summer I was reading (yet another) tedious article about some place (I don’t remember where) instituting trigger warnings and their geographical equivalent, safe spaces, and, on a lark, I decided to see what one might look like for my engineering mechanics course,” he explained. “It was sufficiently ludicrous that I decided to keep it on the syllabus as a tongue-in-cheek statement. I didn’t think anyone but Auburn engineering students in my class would see it and, being engineers, would shrug it off for the joke it was. Who knew?”
Asked if he is concerned about the culture of political correctness growing on college campuses, Prof. Schwartz said, “Yes, I think this PC business is making American universities, and their faculties and administrators, the laughingstocks of Western Civilization. But, since the proponents of this stuff think Western Civ is corrupt anyhow, they don’t seem to notice that the rest of the world thinks they’re fools.”
Schwartz is the latest academic to take issue with political correctness on campus.
The University of Chicago’s dean of students recently made headlines by sending a letter to every member of their incoming freshman class, asserting the school’s commitment to “academic freedom” and aversion to “trigger warnings,” “safe zones,” and other hallmarks of the campus PC movement.
“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called trigger warnings, we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own,” John Ellison, dean of students, wrote.
The conservative The Heritage Foundation posted the letter on its Facebook page, commenting that it “will make you stand up and cheer.”
Most Auburn students probably feel the same way.
The Princeton Review named Auburn’s student body “the most conservative in the nation” in 2013, and it has ranked high on the list in subsequent years.