Students at Aberdeen University have voted to have warnings included in lectures to protect them from distressing or upsetting feelings.
According to the Times, the student council supported a motion to call for the introduction of “content warnings on all subjects that may cause harm to students.”
These will be included in lectures, reading lists, and seminars.
Ivana Drdáková, the association’s vice-president elect with responsibility for student welfare, proposed the motion.
She argued that her fellow students should be shielded from unwanted references to a number of subjects:
- animal abuse
- sexual abuse and harassment
- drug and alcohol abuse
The motion stated that there were “multiple instances where the university failed to provide content warnings in their communications.”
Students voted to endorse the affirmation that “the introduction of content warnings would serve to self-guard students from reading and hearing about subjects which may cause harm to them.”
Trigger warnings to be used
Ms Drdáková told the Times that some university staff were already using trigger warnings.
She said: “As a literature student, you inevitably come across a piece of literature that contains distressing scenes, for example, harm to animals.
“This is one of the things I do not like to read about.
“I have been very lucky that my lecturer already uses content warnings for all of the books that we read on the course, and as such, I can prepare myself better for what I am about to read rather than be caught by surprise.”
Rule not against the freedom of expression
Ms Drdákova is in her fourth year studying Scottish and English literature and rejected the idea that it would result in important facts being censored and the rule being against the freedom of expression.
She added: “This policy does not stop the university from talking about these subjects.
“It just calls on it to better safeguard students by presenting content warnings and provide a list of resources when needed.
“Students are still going to be exposed to all the material, they will just be aware of what they can expect and prepare emotionally.
“We all need to be more accepting and aware of people surrounding us and their experiences and protect each other.”
The university said it was aware that the motion had been passed.
“This is being reviewed but is still in very early-stage discussions and no decisions have been made at this stage,” a spokeswoman said.
Mary Senior, the University and College Union’s Scotland official, said: “This isn’t the first time a student union has passed a motion calling for warnings and we’re also clear that many staff already do this.
“The university’s response indicates that they will initiate discussions on the proposal and it is important that the union is also party to those discussions.”