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Trigger Warnings

  • Flitch Coffee 641 Tillery Street Austin, TX, 78702 United States (map)

In May 2015, the Texas State Legislature approved a law (SB 11) allowing anyone with a concealed handgun permit to carry a loaded firearm into most spaces on state university campuses. On August 1, 2016, that law went into effect, sparking protests by faculty, students, and the surrounding community. 

During the last week of August 2016, the Dean of Students in the College at the University of Chicago, John (Jay) Ellison, wrote a welcome letter to incoming freshman disavowing the use of trigger warnings and safe spaces. This, too, was controversial, and many faculty from the college, as well as students and faculty from other universities, strongly criticized Ellison's letter and tone. 

In addition to their similar settings, both of these controversial events consider similar issues. These include questions of:
Protection (but from, and for, whom? Are millennials and/or academics too coddled?)
Safety, both emotional and physical (but again, for whom? Should students be protected from guns? By guns? From difficult material? From their fellow students?)
Freedom: of speech, to bear arms, to feel safe
Access, to all of the above

In our next class, we will consider how these twinned controversies reflect each other and wade into the questions they pose along with our guest, Dr. Steven Friesen, Professor of Religious Studies and active member of Gun-Free UT