Ithaca College Professor Stopped Teaching About Sexual Violence Because Students Complained

'This triggers me' is the new 'my dog ate my homework.'


Jaime Staley-sickafoose

Here's more evidence that students' demands for coddling in the classroom are causing professors to stop teaching controversial material entirely: an Ithaca College professor admitted that she no longer includes sexual violence as part of her curriculum because it was "almost impossible to accommodate all of her students' needs," according to a report.

Rebecca Plante is an associate professor of sociology at Ithaca. She teaches Sociology of Sexualities. It was always her policy to provide trigger warnings for her students, she told The Ithacan.

"I had no way of knowing who in my class maybe had survived rape, had been subjected to some kind of sexual assault, who maybe had been subjected to something they had forgotten about," Plante said.

As it turns out, a whole lot of students claimed to be trauma victims. Eventually, Plante discovered that so many students were opting not to complete coursework because it triggered them that there wasn't a point to teaching the difficult stuff at all:

But Plante had not anticipated how many students would tell her they could not do much of the controversial coursework because of past trauma they had suffered. So, about five years ago she decided to stop teaching about sexual violence altogether because it became almost impossible for her to accommodate all of her students' needs. Her class still discusses the "social construction of gender, violence, power and sexualities," Plante said, but she does feel the absence of the controversial material is a disservice to the course.

Plante is one of many academics who increasingly find themselves walking on eggshells to avoid offending their students. Some law school professors have stopped teaching rape law due to complaints from students who claim the subject is traumatizing—even though educating students about this important topic should be more important than making everybody in class comfortable all of the time.

If professors want to warn their students before discussing particularly disturbing subjects, that's fine. But it's concerning that strenuous objection from the students is leading academic to stop teaching these subjects entirely.

And I hate to say this, but it's undeniable: Plante's experience makes me wonder if some students are feigning trauma in order to skip class, readings, and assignments. "This triggers me" is the new "my dog ate my homework."