An argument in their (partial) defense.11:22 AM, May 14, 2015 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
The clamor for “trigger warnings” has, predictably, spread to the Classics. This isn’t particularly surprising: From Herodotus to Livy to Tacitus, the body of literature that used to be called the Canon is chock-full of violence, sadism, and what would now be considered racism.
And so, it’s entirely predictable that a group of freshman at Columbia University have asked that Ovid’s Metamorphoses – which, hearteningly, all Columbia students are required to read -- come with a trigger warning. “Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ is a fixture of Lit Hum, but like so many texts in the Western canon, it contains triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom,” write the four undergrads in a piece in Columbia’s student newspaper. As such, they ask for “warnings and suggestions for how to support triggered students.” The writers continue with their demands:
[T]here should be a mechanism for students to communicate their concerns to professors anonymously, as well as a mediation mechanism for students who have identity-based disagreements with professors. Finally, the center should create a training program for all professors, including faculty and graduate instructors, which will enable them to constructively facilitate conversations that embrace all identities, share best practices, and think critically about how the Core Curriculum is framed for their students.
For making these requests, the students are being flayed “special snowflakes” and “delicate female flowers.” (Neither of those were meant as compliments, by the way.)
Well, maybe. But you know what the Columbia Four didn’t ask for? That the book be removed from the curriculum, or that they be excused from reading it. In so doing, these four Columbia students are distinct from a) the Harvard Law students who asked to skip their exams after the fracas in Ferguson, b) the students at Reed College who are demanding radical changes to the freshman humanities course which defines freshman year at the school, and c) Ira Magaziner, the Clinton confidante who led the successful charge in the 1960s to junk academic rigor at Brown University.
So, to some, the demand for a trigger warnings at Columbia may seem infantile. But give the aggrieved students this: By agreeing to even read Ovid, they’re willing to be met halfway. In the current climate, that’s nothing short of commendable.
1:19 PM, Mar 11, 2014 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
On May 18, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, will be Barnard College's commencement speaker and will receive the Barnard medal of distinction, the college’s highest honor.
11:13 AM, Sep 12, 2013 • By JONATHAN BRONITSKY
Hardly an academic semester goes by without a high-profile opportunity arising for the right to address pervasive, perennial anti-conservative animus on the American college campus. And hardly an academic semester goes by without the right, reflexively blinded by righteous indignation, blowing an opportunity to do so.
Oct 15, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 05 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
In noting the death last week in London of Eric Hobsbawm, The Scrapbook observed its usual doctrine of de mortuis nil nisi bonum.
It’s good to be published, and better to be understood.Sep 3, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 47 • By BARTON SWAIM
Modern academics are not celebrated for the clarity and felicity of their writing. One of the most important lessons a postgraduate student can learn—and if he doesn’t learn it soon, he’s doomed—is that academics generally do not write books and articles for the purpose of expressing their ideas as clearly as possible for the benefit of people who don’t already understand and agree with them. Academics don’t write to be read; they write to be published.
The view from the front row of the academic follies.Jan 24, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 18 • By DAWN EDEN
Sexual "misconduct" rules are rejiggered to deny due process and presume the guilt of white men. 4:27 PM, Jan 7, 2010 • By EMILY ESFAHANI SMITH
A few years ago—as you probably remember—Duke University received a lot of bad publicity when a group of lacrosse players were (falsely, as it turned out) accused of brutally gang-raping a black stripper in Durham, North Carolina. Today, with the recent changes in the school's sexual misconduct policy, that spirit lives on.
Leftwing causes converge with the 9/11 denial movement.Sep 24, 2007, Vol. 13, No. 02 • By SONNY BUNCH
New York City
Certain events can be expected each time the 9/11 anniversary rolls around. Opinion writers will opine about how the attacks did or didn't change America. Moments of silence will take place in any number of locales. Think tanks will host panels discussing everything from the war on terror to the impact on immigration reform. And the loosely affiliated conspiracy theorists that comprise the 9/11 Truth Movement will hold rallies and conferences around the country to bring themselves attention.
Fed up with the PC domination of the academic linguistics, one professor fights back against the establishment.12:00 AM, Sep 12, 2003 • By DAVID SKINNER
THE PERSECUTION OF SCHOLARS for gender bias, on even the flimsiest evidence, has long been a fact of life in academe. Should one professor write, "Mary entered the kitchen," another boils over with feminist indignation, convenes a panel to investigate, and soon the whole campus is sucked into a tedious speakathon on the evils of sexism. But more than just the hobbyhorse of a few discontented radicals, heightened scrutiny for potential offense to preferred political groups has become policy within most disciplines.
From the August 25, 2003 Dallas Morning News: The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights tries to bring an end to campus speech codes created in its name.12:00 AM, Sep 2, 2003 • By TERRY EASTLAND
IN A JULY LETTER to colleges and universities across the country, Gerald Reynolds, head of the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights, addressed "a subject," as he put it, "of central importance to our government, our heritage of freedom and our way of life: the First Amendment." Reynolds' office doesn't have the authority to bring lawsuits to enforce the First Amendment. What, you might wonder, possessed him to write a letter about it?
The answer begins with the fact that hundreds of colleges and universities have policies restricting speech that the First Amendment protects.
An Update on Sami Al-Arian and "academic freedom" from the American Association of University Professors.3:00 PM, Jun 17, 2003 • By DAVID TELL
THE QUESTION raised by our editorial in last week's issue--whether the American Association of University Professors would "censure" the University of South Florida for having fired indicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad chieftain Sami Al-Arian--has been resolved. Sort of.
Jun 9, 2003, Vol. 8, No. 38 • By TERRY EASTLAND, FOR THE EDITORS
WHILE THE NATION AWAITS the Supreme Court's rulings in the Michigan affirmative action cases, the Bush administration has launched an effort designed to stimulate interest in race-neutral means of enhancing educational opportunities for racial and ethnic minorities. The project has proceeded quietly, with the Education Department taking the lead.
The historians are already wrong about the war in Iraq. Apr 21, 2003, Vol. 8, No. 31 • By RONALD RADOSH
THE WEEKEND OF APRIL 5, the Organization of American Historians (OAH)--the leading association of professors of American history--held its annual meeting in Memphis, Tennessee. The best-attended event, televised live by C-SPAN, was a panel discussion entitled "Historians Reflect on the War in Iraq." Before a packed audience of OAH members, five historians presented five takes on why it was necessary to oppose the war. Not one audience member begged to differ--at a time when polls showed 70 percent of the American people backing the war.
The panel began on a fairly reasonable note.