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.