Columbia Won’t Put Trigger Warnings on Next Year’s Reading Lists

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Columbia's required reading list is undergoing some changes, but one of those won't be the addition of trigger warnings. After a campuswide discussion over whether or not the school should add warnings to syllabi containing books with violent or upsetting sexual material, Columbia has decided against the practice. In fact, though debate raged between students and faculty all year, an administrator told The Wall Street Journal that imposing trigger warnings wasn't even part of the official discussion, as they could threaten "intellectual freedom."

“At no point did [we] consider trigger warnings as being something that could be productively or intellectually mandated, or made structural,” Julie Crawford, chairwoman of Columbia College’s literature humanities department, told the Journal.

Columbia will be changing some of the required books that some students objected to, including removing Ovid's Metamorphoses and adding Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, but Crawford says it's unrelated to the trigger-warning debate.

Though students have asked for trigger warnings at schools like U.C. Santa Barbara and Oberlin, professors have largely opposed them: A 2014 report drafted by the American Association of University Professors argues that making trigger warnings university policy poses a threat to their academic freedom and is "counterproductive to the educational experience."