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National Coalition Against Censorship: literature ‘warnings’ a bad idea

Recall the case of 20-year-old college student Tara Shultz, who was upset at the graphic novel reading selections in a course at Crafton Hills College.

After Shultz — and her parents — complained to university officials, it was agreed that a “disclaimer” would be placed on the course description from here on out.

The situation attracted the notice of the National Coalition Against Censorship, which sent a letter to Crafton Hills expressing its concern over the “disclaimer”:

The letter from NCAC executive director Joan Bertin — signed by the American Booksellers for Free Expression, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Association of American Publishers, American Association of University Professors, National Council of Teachers of English and PEN American Center — argues that such warnings “pose a significant threat to the methods and goals of higher education,” and links the college’s pending decision to the broader debate inside higher education over so-called “trigger warnings.”

The letter cites the criticisms of trigger warnings from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and argues that even a voluntary policy “would be ill-advised” and likely to lead to additional complaints from other students over reading material and other course content.

The letter concludes:

We strongly urge the college not to set a dangerous precedent by adopting a general warning or disclaimer for this or any other course, but to leave the question of students’ sensitivities and preferences to be addressed on a case by case basis in discussions between individual students and faculty.

The letter in full:

NCAC to Crafton Hills College

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About the Author
Assistant Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 15 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.

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