‘Insulting’ trigger warning in Uni of Manchester lecture around buying a round of drinks

The sociology lecture included two warnings and links to helplines for students that found the topic distressing

A trigger warning issued within a lecture held at the University of Manchester which suggested that buying a round of drinks in the pub can be potentially triggering for students has been labelled as “insulting”.

Students attending a sociology lecture in November about “money and finance” spotted a trigger warning on a slide, which included links to university-run emergency suicide helpline and counselling services, Daily Mail reported.

The lecture in question addressed topics including picking up bar tabs, with the lecturer giving students a verbal warning before opening discussions in order to give students the chance to leave if they found the themes too upsetting.

An attendee explained how “a few heads turned when they mentioned a trigger warning for a topic like that”, with the university deeming this to be an uncomfortable financial issue during the cost of living crisis.

The anonymous student added that they initially believed that adding a trigger warning to a financial topic would mean that “everything’s going to need a trigger warning, especially in a subject like sociology.”

Director of Academics for Academic Freedom, Professor Dennis Hayes, criticised the university’s decision to use a trigger warning within the lecture, considering it as insulting towards students.

He said: “There is an endless list of things now said to be triggering or are labelled microaggressions. They may just seem silly but they point to something very serious.”

Professor Hayes continued to explain that this approach not only self-censors academics, but that it “insults students by treating them as if they can’t cope”. He added: “What lies behind this silliness is a campus culture in which ‘make sure no one takes offence’ is the unwritten rule. It is a censorious culture that undermines the academic duty of criticism.”

The sociology lecture also covered inheritance issues, rising prices of items and how to split bills. The student claimed that no one left the lecture theatre, despite the trigger warnings.

The list of topics outlined to merit trigger warnings by the University of Manchester include genocide, violence, murder and sexual assault, with money and finance not being included.

A university spokesperson said: “Students are being affected by the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and financial problems can be especially difficult for young people to deal with.

“We take the welfare of our students very seriously, and we have a duty of care towards them.

“This lecture simply pointed attendees towards the free mental health support the university provides for students who may be having financial difficulties, which includes a counselling service, a 24/7 helpline and a wellbeing app.

“We also provide a cost-of-living support fund to ensure that none of our students are left struggling.”

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