The University Of Chicago Has Said 'No' To Helping Students With Anxiety Disorders

The University Of Chicago Has Said 'No' To Helping Students With Anxiety Disorders

We need trigger warnings and safe spaces.

“Welcome to the University of Chicago! Just an FYI, we will not be warning students if a class, speaker or event could potentially contain upsetting or anxiety-provoking content, and we won’t be accommodating students whose emotions get too strong to handle during said events.”

While other students across the country are being welcomed with overdone orientations and way too much school spirit, this, is how the University of Chicago chose to “welcome” their incoming class of freshmen: with a message to toughen up. The letter came from John Ellison, Dean of Students, who emphasized the school’s “commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression.” According to Ellison, with that commitment comes a lack of safe spaces and trigger warnings. Unfortunately, I think Ellison and the administrators at the University of Chicago are missing the point on why we have safe spaces and trigger warnings.

College is a time for growth, the chance to step out of the hometown bubble and experience new ideas, hear different opinions, and gain a fresh perspective. The best way to do that requires stepping out of one’s comfort zone, which obviously can be a little uncomfortable, and that’s good! We should all feel uncomfortable and have our beliefs challenged a little bit in college; it’s how we learn. But what happens when it goes beyond just feeling uncomfortable? What happens when it goes to a personal level, where anxiety and mental health are concerned?

Trigger warnings are not just ways to shield students from bad language or controversial content: they warn students that the topic may bring back personal traumas or experiences that could give them anxiety or panic attacks. Ellison says, "You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort." Yes, feeling uncomfortable is essential to the learning process, but we all have the right to know when the subject will get controversial and to decide if we can handle it. Trigger warnings are not a luxury, they are a necessity.

Should a student who experienced sexual assault have to sit through a lesson on domestic violence, without any warning or way to escape? What about the student attending a criminal justice seminar whose dad was unlawfully shot by police? Or the student struggling to stay sober whose feelings are triggered by images or videos of people drinking alcohol? These students’ experiences give them feelings far beyond “uncomfortable,” and we need to be considerate of those.

Cornell professor Kate Manne writes in the New York Times, “It’s not about coddling anyone. It’s about enabling everyone’s rational engagement.” Trigger warnings help accommodate students who have experienced traumas so they can participate in their college’s academic scene to the best of their ability.

Furthermore, we all have the right to be able to speak openly about our beliefs and experiences without those beliefs being challenged each time. We all need a little time to vent and just be listened to, not debated against. That is why colleges need safe spaces. At Northwestern University, safe spaces are offered for multiple minority groups. A recent graduate of the school says that the school’s Hillel House, a safe space for Jewish students, provided her the only place on campus she could discuss her religion without being interrogated by students with different beliefs. That student isn’t closing herself off from other people’s opinions, but rather she’s simply seeking refuge to be able to express her own.

Providing trigger warnings and safe spaces on a college campus isn’t asking students to close off and remain ignorant, it’s warning them and giving them a place to debrief without feeling judged.

Cover Image Credit: The Huffington Post

Popular Right Now

Let's Talk More About Lori Laughlin Facing Up To 20 Years In Prison When Brock Turner Got 6 Months

And he was released three months early for 'good behavior'... after sexually assaulting an unconscious girl behind a dumpster.


To start, Lori Laughlin messed up royally, and I don't condone her actions.

If you live under a rock and are unaware of what happened to the "Full House" star, here's the tea:

Lori Laughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli — and like 50 other celebrity parents — were found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud, and paid a $1 million bail on conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and honest services fraud. You don't need to know what these mean except that she paid $500,000 to get her two daughters, Bella and Olivia Jade Giannulli.

I know you're wondering why they did it — tbh I am too — however, these parents paid the University of Southern California to give admission to her daughters in through the rowing team on campus, despite neither one of them actually playing the sport ever in their life.

Yeah, Aunt Becky messed up and should face punishment, but why is she facing up 20 years when men like Brock Turner are sentenced only six months for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster at Stanford?

I hate to bring up the gender card, but I'm pulling it: Why is Lori Laughlin — a woman who with bad judgement who used money to give an upper-hand to her entitled daughters — face more prison time than a man who willingly raped a woman who wasn't in a right state of mine (or any at all!) behind a dumpster of all places.

The answer? Because the system is a mess.

Yeah, Aunt Becky paid for her daughters to get into a school, giving disadvantages to students actually deserving and wanting to attend a college. Her act was immoral, and ultimately selfish, but it doesn't even compare to what Brock Turner did, and it doesn't even effect others as much his rape survivor.

The most that will happen to the Giannulli girls is an expulsion and a temporary poor reputation, however, Emily Doe (the alias of the survivor) will feel the consequences of the attack forever.

There should have been a switch:

Lori Laughlin and the Target guy should have had to pay other students tuition/student debt while facing prison time, while Brock Turner should have had to face over 20 years with more consequences.

But, that'll never happen because our system sucks and society is rigged. I guess our society would prefer a rapist walking around more so a woman who made a poor choice by paying for her daughters to go to a college.

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Dear Nancy Pelosi, 16-Year-Olds Should Not Be Able To Vote

Because I'm sure every sixteen year old wants to be rushing to the voting booth on their birthday instead of the BMV, anyways.


Recent politicians such as Nancy Pelosi have put the voting age on the political agenda in the past few weeks. In doing so, some are advocating for the voting age in the United States to be lowered from eighteen to sixteen- Here's why it is ludicrous.

According to a study done by "Circle" regarding voter turnout in the 2018 midterms, 31% of eligible people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted. Thus, nowhere near half of the eligible voters between 18 and 29 actually voted. To anyone who thinks the voting age should be lowered to sixteen, in relevance to the data, it is pointless. If the combination of people who can vote from the legal voting age of eighteen to eleven years later is solely 31%, it is doubtful that many sixteen-year-olds would exercise their right to vote. To go through such a tedious process of amending the Constitution to change the voting age by two years when the evidence doesn't support that many sixteen-year-olds would make use of the new change (assuming it would pass) to vote is idiotic.

The argument can be made that if someone can operate heavy machinery (I.e. drive a car) at sixteen, they should be able to vote. Just because a sixteen-year-old can (in most places) now drive a car and work at a job, does not mean that they should be able to vote. At the age of sixteen, many students have not had fundamental classes such as government or economics to fully understand the political world. Sadly, going into these classes there are students that had mere knowledge of simple political knowledge such as the number of branches of government. Well, there are people above the age of eighteen who are uneducated but they can still vote, so what does it matter if sixteen-year-olds don't know everything about politics and still vote? At least they're voting. Although this is true, it's highly doubtful that someone who is past the age of eighteen, is uninformed about politics, and has to work on election day will care that much to make it to the booths. In contrast, sixteen-year-olds may be excited since it's the first time they can vote, and likely don't have too much of a tight schedule on election day, so they still may vote. The United States does not need people to vote if their votes are going to be uneducated.

But there are some sixteen-year-olds who are educated on issues and want to vote, so that's unfair to them. Well, there are other ways to participate in government besides voting. If a sixteen-year-old feels passionate about something on the political agenda but can't vote, there are other ways of getting involved. They can canvas for politicians whom they agree with, or become active in the notorious "Get Out The Vote" campaign to increase registered voter participation or help register those who already aren't. Best yet, they can politically socialize their peers with political information so that when the time comes for all of them to be eighteen and vote, more eighteen-year-olds will be educated and likely to vote.

If you're a sixteen-year-old and feel hopeless, you're not. As the 2016 election cycle approached, I was seventeen and felt useless because I had no vote. Although voting is arguably one of the easiest ways to participate in politics, it's not the only one. Since the majority of the current young adult population don't exercise their right to vote, helping inform them of how to stay informed and why voting is important, in my eyes is as essential as voting.

Sorry, Speaker Pelosi and all the others who think the voting age should be lowered. I'd rather not have to pay a plethora of taxes in my later years because in 2020 sixteen-year-olds act like sheep and blindly vote for people like Bernie Sanders who support the free college.

Related Content

Facebook Comments