Presentation Title

Trigger Warning!: Restricting Speech on College Campuses May be Hazardous to Students

Faculty Mentor

Kurt Meyer, Jodi Titus

Start Date

18-11-2017 11:30 AM

End Date

18-11-2017 11:45 AM

Location

15-1807

Session

Social Science 2

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

education

Abstract

A shifting economic and social climate has led to a detrimental practice of coddling American college students, which infringes on the democratic ideal of free speech and undermines the integrity of academic freedom—a principle that is paramount to maintaining a healthy academic environment in California public institutions of higher education. Rising demand for accommodations, in response to increasingly varied cultural and ethnic backgrounds on campuses, has led to the spreading prevalence of problematic interpretations of microaggressions, mandated trigger warnings and free speech zones. This protective academic environment that now permeates higher education deprives students of the intellectual rigor necessary to develop critical thinking skills essential for success in academic, political, and social pursuits. Through extensive consultation with case law, legal publications, surveys, and constitutional law experts, this presentation will provide insights on why current academic initiatives are incapable of preserving effective discourse in the growingly sensitive academic environment of today. Colleges must take an active role in safeguarding intellectual merit by enabling constructive, challenging, and even controversial speech on campus. The reliance on trigger warnings to promote student well-being has instead created a culture inclined to suppress opposing viewpoints negatively received by a majority. By confining particular forms of speech to “free speech zones,” colleges diminish the academic freedom meant to offer students autonomy over the quality and direction of their education. Revision of practices intended to protect free speech on campuses will allow colleges to better fulfill the needs of their students while maintaining intellectual authenticity, rigor, and equitability.

Summary of research results to be presented

This presentation will focus on examination of data conducted on college students which reveals that the current sensitive academic environment has resulted in rising levels of self-perceived feelings of vulnerability. Consequently, national surveys show a majority of college students report a preference for campuses to establish an environment that shelters them from potentially controversial or offensive views. This inclination for sheltered academic environments is further evidenced by a distinct confusion amongst students regarding the reach of the First Amendment and its interpreted role in an academic environment. Works by constitutional law experts suggest these sentiments may be caused by the changing social climate of today. Students are largely detached from civil rights and free speech movements of the past, and as such, do not share the same level of skepticism towards an authority’s role in regulating speech as do their older contemporaries. As a result of growing up in an era incorporating “zero tolerance” policies and a more notable cultural emphasis on empathizing with marginalized minority groups, the current generation of college students have grown to develop an expectation of protection by authority figures from controversy and harm. This leads to stricter compliance standards, and alongside the growing commodification of education, causes emphasis to shift from prioritization of intellectual merit to concern over well-being and satisfaction of students. This presentation hopes to provide causal data to best assist administrations in formulating policy that effectively meets the needs of their students while maintaining the integrity of their academic missions.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Nov 18th, 11:30 AM Nov 18th, 11:45 AM

Trigger Warning!: Restricting Speech on College Campuses May be Hazardous to Students

15-1807

A shifting economic and social climate has led to a detrimental practice of coddling American college students, which infringes on the democratic ideal of free speech and undermines the integrity of academic freedom—a principle that is paramount to maintaining a healthy academic environment in California public institutions of higher education. Rising demand for accommodations, in response to increasingly varied cultural and ethnic backgrounds on campuses, has led to the spreading prevalence of problematic interpretations of microaggressions, mandated trigger warnings and free speech zones. This protective academic environment that now permeates higher education deprives students of the intellectual rigor necessary to develop critical thinking skills essential for success in academic, political, and social pursuits. Through extensive consultation with case law, legal publications, surveys, and constitutional law experts, this presentation will provide insights on why current academic initiatives are incapable of preserving effective discourse in the growingly sensitive academic environment of today. Colleges must take an active role in safeguarding intellectual merit by enabling constructive, challenging, and even controversial speech on campus. The reliance on trigger warnings to promote student well-being has instead created a culture inclined to suppress opposing viewpoints negatively received by a majority. By confining particular forms of speech to “free speech zones,” colleges diminish the academic freedom meant to offer students autonomy over the quality and direction of their education. Revision of practices intended to protect free speech on campuses will allow colleges to better fulfill the needs of their students while maintaining intellectual authenticity, rigor, and equitability.