Campus Free Speech

UCL Provides Trigger Warnings for Archaeology Students Who Are Afraid of Bones

'Health and safety going mad again'


Nataliia Zhekova / Dreamstime

Archaeology students at University College London are excused from attending any lectures that might disturb them.

The Archaeologies of Modern Conflict course now comes with a trigger warning that cautions students about the potentially traumatizing nature of history.

The course's instructor told The Daily Mail that he was particularly concerned about military veterans.

"Lecturer Gabriel Moshenska, who co-ordinates the UCL course on how archaeology can help unearth the truth about 20th and 21st century conflicts, said some students had been in the Armed Forces and may have suffered psychological trauma," The Mail reported.

There's no doubt that some military veterans have seen pretty grisly things that might have left them with psychological scarring. But if digging up bones or discussing warfare is triggering for a student, then that student probably shouldn't be studying archaeology. People who faint at the sight of blood shouldn't become nurses, and people with an irrational fear of spiders (including the author of this post) might opt for something other than arachnology.

Moshenska notes that no student actually requested a trigger warning—he's merely being proactive about his class's mental health. But it wouldn't surprise me if some students suddenly found themselves traumatized by the idea of showing up to class. Recall the Ithaca College instructor who discovered that her generous trigger warning policy resulted in a ton of kids failing to complete their coursework.

Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign For Real Education, told The Mail that Moshenska's trigger warning represents, "Health and safety going mad again. We are back to an overprotective nanny state."

Indeed. There's safety, and then there's the kind of paranoia about safety that the modern university campus seems to be encouraging. And when you incentivize something, you end up with more of it.

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  1. “Why’d it have to be bones.”

      1. We should be careful not to express hatred of anything, given the possible consequences. It is perfectly legal, however, to be afraid of bones. Students are of course very sensitive human beings who need to be protected, but let’s not forget that seasoned professors also need to be shielded, from controversy and inappropriately deadpan “parody” that can damage their reputations. See the documentation of America’s leading criminal “satire” case at:

      2. #DeadLivesMatter

  2. Well, sure. Who isn’t afraid of Dr. McCoy Brent Barry that police procedural show starring Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz?

    1. that police procedural show starring Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz?

      Person of Interest? Castle? Burn Notice?

    2. My wife, unfortunately. But I could Emily Deschanel do just about anything.

      1. Could what?

        Help? Watch? Stop? Film?

        1. report her for?

  3. But if digging up bones or discussing warfare is triggering for a student, then that student probably shouldn’t be studying archaeology. People who faint at the sight of blood shouldn’t become nurses, and people with an irrational fear of spiders (including the author of this post) might opt for something other than arachnology.

    That’s hater talk.

  4. I had a huge tarantula and, later, a great little wolf spider who used to escape from her cage and crawl in my shoes, Rico.

    1. Now we’re not gonna get any more posts from Rico Suave the rest of the day because he’ll be hiding in his safe space. I just hope he’s not on the hook for PM Links today because if he is, there’s gonna be hell to pay.


  5. The correct approach is:
    Afraid of bones in an archaeology class? Enjoy your F you fucking pussy.

    I swear to God, I’m almost ready for the Red Chinese or the Russians to invade us and put an end to this bullshit.

    1. The Russians can be described as many things, but “simpering cowards” ain’t one of em.

  6. Some good news from campus…there’s been some outrage in Nebraska that three members of the football teamed knelt during the national anthem on Saturday. I know someone who works in the NU system and the president just sent an e-mail to everyone. As you might expect, he affirmed the right of the students to kneel. However, he concluded the e-mail with:

    The same freedoms that protect the speech of those who have joined the conversation in recent days also protect our students’ speech ? whether they’re kneeling during the national anthem, holding the American flag on the field, praying after a game or expressing their opinion during class or on campus. All of that speech falls under the same category. All of it is protected.

    Our nation is dealing with difficult issues today, as we have for virtually our entire history. Each of us will react differently. College campuses, as much as any space, must be places where robust, even uncomfortable, debate is welcomed and encouraged. I want every student, faculty and staff member to know that I am unwavering in my support of your right to participate in these dialogues in the manner you choose under the First Amendment and University of Nebraska policy.

    1. “…I am unwavering in my support of your right to participate in these dialogues in the manner you choose under the First Amendment and University of Nebraska policy.”

      “Now unfortunately University of Nebraska policy prohibits any non-corn related political speech, so you all have three seconds to get the fuck out of here before I release the hounds.”

      1. Actually, the policy he referenced is not bad:

        As stated in Board of Regents policy, which has been in place for almost a half-century: “Members of the academic community have the right to extensive latitude in making their opinions known? The public exploration and resolution of differing views can be successful only when groups and individuals discuss the issues in forums where the right to disagree, speak freely and be heard is preserved.”

        1. I’m just gonna say it: if Oregon kicks the PAT like every other football team instead of going for two every time, they win that game.

          ’95 Nebraska is still the single greatest CFB team of all time though.

          1. Meh, I’m not from Nebraska so I try to avoid Husker news as it can become all-consuming. I prefer to see them lose a few games to keep the locals humble.

            1. They’ve had to be pretty fucking humble for the last 15 years or so.

    2. Stop playing that awful song before a college football game, whyncha.

    3. Of course, there was that Nebraska regent that said the kids should be kicked out of school…

      1. Yep, there was. He’s also a former Republican congressman and mayor.

  7. I will donate one million dollars to Reason if ENB posts a video of Rico shitting his pants in fright from a planted spider on his desk.

    1. I’m not sure if you totally understand which of you three comes off looking the worst in this situation.

  8. Somehow I’m guessing that about 95% of the veterans at that school would laugh their balls off about this kind of bullshit.

    1. 95 percent of the student body likely would. This kind of nonsense is generally driven by a small minority of vocal assholes.

  9. Back in my day the only thing an archeology professor was afraid of was snakes.


      1. “Fist”? That was the dog’s name.


        We named the dog Indiana.

    2. I gave my prof this really ornate cup once and the jerk never once drank from it.

  10. Everyone needs to be able to do any/every thing.

    It was bad enough when schools stopped teaching “The Lottery”, but I really think they need to start teaching “Harrison Bergeron” as well.
    Of course, both are far too triggering, but then that’s why they should be taught.

    1. Schools don’t teach The Lottery anymore?

      ::hurls rock at Robby::

    2. Wow, you are making large unwarranted inferences here. The class is still being taught. In fact, by letting students exit when things get traumatic it assures them that they are welcome to stay for the other 99% of the content. Many comments here say the student should “not be an Archaeology” major. What is more stifling to your freedom, letting you opt out of a class or two, or forcing you to stay and see the gore or not take the class at all, and thus loosing out on access to the other 99%?

  11. The pussies shall inherit the earth, right?

    1. No. These are cultural Marxist commissars. They are violent and would have no problem forcing a mother to bury her children alive if it would bring the heretics in line. I am exaggerating, right?

      State retribution for tiny thefts, such as stealing a potato, even by a child, would include being tied up and thrown into a pond; parents were forced to bury their children alive or were doused in excrement and urine, others were set alight, or had a nose or ear cut off.…..81630.html

  12. I can see how examining the remains of people who have been hacked to death by a mob might be an unpleasant experience. However, the course title and description should be sufficient forewarning.

    1. Yes. It’s not “bones” there will be pictures of decompsed, fleshy human remains in mass graves and collapsed fortifications . More rotting corpse than clean skeletons.

    2. True, but then again, you would assume many things from students, and yet, still include items in your syllabus pertaining to them. Are we going to get up in arms that students need reference to the student code about plagiarism? After, all isn’t it assumed you shouldn’t plagiarize? We live in a world awash with statements and warnings that many of us would ignore. That’s all this is. A take it or leave it statement on a syllabus. But for some reason, Reason thought they should scarlet letter this professor.

  13. UCL Provides Trigger Warnings for Archaeology Students Who Are Afraid of Bones

    Is Robby…. Is he…. Coming on to me?

  14. Is this a joke?

    Is this a fucken joke?

  15. Does anyone realize that all these anti-trigger warning articles are taking on their own absurd and hysterical traits? Folks, this is no big deal. All the professor is saying is that if you are having an adverse reaction when viewing grisly war remains, go ahead and step out into the hall. In other words, he would rather you stay in the class and learn the content then totally bail on the class and miss out on the knowledge he deems important. To argue otherwise is to imply two things; 1) If you are a veteran and this brings up panic or trauma then tough $%##% get out of the class and don’t learn the content; or 2) Stay in the class but tough it out or leave and get a bad grade. These implications are, quite frankly, cold and callous and to believe them is to carry a very sclerotic view about how humans should get along in a society. It smacks of the stereotypical DMV, rule-bound mentality. You know that type of person who sticks to the letter of every law because they find safety and comfort in beauracratic rules because they thrive under those kinds of conditions. It’s ironic that readers of a Libertarian magazine would feel this way but there it is.

    1. The linked article locked up my browser and phone but aren’t these classes dealing with bones, not half decomposed mass graves of people and the like? I realize it can be offputting but sometimes people need to face up and do what needs to be done despite their squeamishness or even their visceral reaction. If they can’t do the coursework for whatever reason their grade should reflect that.

    2. What we generally object to with regards to “trigger warnings” are (in order)

      1) The implication and often explicit statement that a person’s feelings are someone else’s responsibility
      2) The role that trigger warnings play in suppressing the free exchange of ideas
      3) The belief that one should be free from offensive or uncomfortable ideas
      4) The absurdity of what counts as offensive and uncomfortable among some people

      It’s not a lack of compassion, it’s a realization that compassion has to have limits, particularly at the institutional level.

      1. Its not fake compassion, its real compassion.

        Fake compassions is coddling people’s neuroses.

        Real compassion is telling people early on if they can’t handle the subject matter, they need to find new majors/careers before they make a colossal error in their life choices.

        1. You are making a bad assumption. Many students take classes, not because they are in their major, but for many other reasons. You are also assuming that missing out on a couple of lessons (which you can get notes for) means that the student cannot learn the material for the course. The professor is clear that while they may exit the class, they still need to get the notes, and presumably, produce papers, take tests, etc.

  16. I’ve made $64,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. Im using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I do,


  17. I strongly disapprove of UCL providing trigger warnings to archaeology students who are afraid of bones.

  18. I disapprove of UCL providing trigger warnings for archaeology students who are afraid of bones.

    1. Your position appears to be softening.

      1. Is this another masturbation euphemism?

    2. The squirrels are becoming more bold? They aren’t just repeating, but modifying?

  19. We are back to an overprotective nanny state.

    Back? You limey fucks never left.

  20. I have an idea for a game. Whenever Robby posts an article, the first commentarian to point out Robby’s most ridiculous qualifier or needless concession wins the game. Your prize will be ridicule from a butthurt Hugh Akston and other champions from the Most Smarmy Order of Robby Defenders.

    1. We’re sorry that Robby triggers you.

    2. Robby is near the front line of the battle. And he’s on my side. Asking him to charge forward into the machine gun fire from my keyboard is a bit much. Give him a break, he’s young.

      1. Charging machine guns is what the front line troops do.

  21. I’ve got a bone for them to be afraid of. And there won’t be any trigger warnings either.

  22. One small bone to pick with Robby. Just taking an archeology class doesn’t mean that’s going to be their profession (he implied this by the comment about nurses) — many schools have general education requirements that might be fulfilled by an archeology class.

    Of course, they could always choose a different class, instead of one that they are queasy about.

    1. Depends on the level, I’d think. But yes.

  23. OT: I’m getting ads in my browser for Hillary explaining why she won the debate. If you have to explain it, you have a problem…

  24. “Moshenska notes that no student actually requested a trigger warning?he’s merely being proactive about his class’s mental health.”

    I’m saying he’d getting a belly-laugh out of this…

  25. he’s merely being proactive about his class’s mental health

    Whats actually more troubling that the juvenile attitude about ‘trigger warnings’ are these completely fabricated, non-scientific assumptions about what actually constitutes “Mental Health”

    Its basically elevating “feelings” – people’s subjective emotions – to the level of “structure/function” health claims. As though anyone can just declare that they’re “psychologically scarred” – sans any clinical evaluation or diagnosis – and have the world cater to their emotional whims because of it, as though they were a real-world ‘cripple’ suffering from an objective medical condition.

    IOW, that something makes you *uncomfortable* isn’t necessarily the consequence of any “psychological scarring” (a completely contrived concept on its own); its just your own inability to control your emotions… and it seems as though we’re drastically lowering the standards of emotional self-control out of some contrived notion of being ‘considerate’.

    Its 100% bullshit. People who *actually* suffer from mental health conditions may genuinely have violent emotional reactions to certain stimulae – but its not because of any “Scarring”… its because they have actual chemical & structural problems in their @#()&*@ brain.

    I’ve seen actually mentally-ill people become mortally terrified of things like “Trains” or “opening cans of soda”. I mean Rain-Man freaked out.

    1. (contd)

      …And it wasn’t because they had ‘bad experiences’ with these things. It was BECAUSE THEY WERE @*(#$# SICK IN THE HEAD.

      There’s this popular notion being floated around that human minds are super-delicate, and bad experiences can ‘traumatize’ people and make them incapable of dealing with certain images/concepts. And its based on a completely fabricated notion of what ‘mental health’ and ‘mental illness’ actually are.

      People with emotional problems aren’t necessarily “mentally ill” or ‘damaged’. They’re just emotionally unstable. You can debate whether or not emotionally unstable people should be mixed in classrooms at all… but what you can’t do is pretend to ‘rationally accommodate’ emotionally unstable people.

      Because people who are emotionally unstable can actually have adverse reactions to *anything*. Its not that they suffer from some peculiar specific “triggers”, and only those things – their emotions themselves are out of control. They can burst into tears at the sight of the mailman, or the sound of an ice-cream truck.

      You can’t rationally accommodate what are fundamentally irrational reactions without completely destroying any pedagogical environment.

      And this attitude is just *taken for granted* – as thought science has shown that the general population is routinely “triggered”, and that warnings will somehow alleviate adverse reactions… when from everything i’ve seen, the science of “PTSD” says the exact opposite

    2. … anyway…

      its just an aspect of this whole thing which i continue to see – even by people like Robby who might be mildly critical of the whole ‘trigger warnings’ conceptual regime… that the completely contrived underlying assumptions about “mental health” are simply taken for granted, as though they even *make any fucking sense*.

      they don’t. They don’t make any sense from a ‘mental health’ pov, and they don’t make any sense from the pov of improving a teaching environment, because its effectively reducing adult-classrooms to nursury-school-levels of hypersensitivity to emotions of students.

      if every student suddenly possesses an emotional veto over their subject matter that they can whip out on demand… who can argue? If we’re conceding that anyone can claim ‘psychological scarring’ on a whim, its granting them authority which students simply shouldn’t have in a school-environment. if you’re “too sick” to sit in a classroom without emotional problems, you’re too sick to be in school, period. Yet people pretend we’re surrounded by these partially-damaged people at all times, and need to walk on eggshells and pad the walls out of concern for their imagined “problems”; its not just *their* problem anymore… its being made into an obligation on everyone else, even when there isn’t anyone to actually complain.

      The entire conceptual framework is nonsense from top to bottom. Yet even ‘critics’ seem to passively accept the underlying lies…

  26. These administrators are spineless, let’s make no bones about it.

  27. We used to have fire but the inventor died.

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