One Auburn University engineering professor has brought the national debate over trigger warnings into the classroom by posting a sarcastic warning near the top of the syllabus for one of his Fall 2016 courses.
Prof. Peter Schwartz’s tongue-in-cheek take on trigger warnings – which have become ubiquitous on many campuses across the country – warns students that the course will subject them to such horrors as physics, work and quizzes.
It’s an attempt at humor from a man who on Monday told AL.com that he considers trigger warnings to be “a joke” and he would never issue a serious trigger warning.
“I think trigger warnings are a joke to begin with and I wanted to see what one might look like in an engineering course. Looks kind of silly, doesn’t it? That (sic) because it is,” he said via email. Auburn did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
Often defined as a means of letting students know that material being taught in a course may upset them, the trigger warning has become increasingly common – and controversial – in recent months and years.
Schwartz’s joke takes a bold stance on a topic that has caused great consternation among the many students, professors and advocates of various stripes across the nation who support their widespread use. But the institution of trigger warnings and safe spaces at many universities and colleges has also triggered a backlash.
“TRIGGER WARNING: physics, trigonometry, sine, cosine, tangent, vector, force, work, energy, stress, quiz, grade,” reads Schwartz’s warning, which is emblazoned in bright red near the top of the syllabus for his Fall 2016 ENGR 2100 — Fundamentals of Engineering Mechanics course.
The trigger warning is back in the national news again as debate rages on over the University of Chicago’s announcement earlier this month that it would not be issuing them going forward.