Trigger Warnings, Safe Spaces and Microaggressions: Discussing Questions of Freedom of Speech on Campus

14 September 2016
Amanda Christy Brown and Katherine Schulten

Ask: “Based on what you know now, do these demands seem reasonable? Have students gone too far?”

Tell students that you will engage in a simplified Oxford-style debate to look more deeply at both sides of this issue. Alternatively, if you prefer and have the time, you could watch this debate on the Open to Debate formerly known as Intelligence Squared U.S. website.

As a class decide upon the resolution you want to debate. You can see the IQ2 debate resolutions here. This is a good time to focus students on the aspect of these events and the issues they raise that you want them to think more about. For example, if you wanted to focus on academic freedom or students’ First Amendment rights, the resolution could be focused on that. If this is a moment you want to zero in on race, privilege and identity politics, guide students to craft resolution (s) focused around those issues. You might also divide the class into smaller groups around different resolutions and then hold the debates for one another.