University “does not recommend” content warnings

In a statement to the Telegraph, a spokesperson for the University of Oxford said that the University ‘does not recommend or encourage the use of content warnings’.

The comments were made in the context of English Literature students being warned that mediaeval works such as Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales ‘often [portray] extreme physical, emotional, and psychological states’. Other blanket warnings for the course include ones stating that students may encounter ‘prejudiced views or language’ and ‘graphic representations of inequality and violence’, instructing students to seek support if such portrayals disturb them.

While the University did not endorse the use of content or trigger warnings, they remain ‘aware’ that academics may choose to use disclaimers and regard this as a ‘matter for the individual academic’. In taking this position, the University is able to maintain what it perceives as its ‘strong policies in defence of freedom of speech’ while also allowing any academic who wants to use content warnings the flexibility to do so.


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