Oxford University has long been regarded as one of the top academic institutions in the world, developing and producing some of the greatest minds on the planet. The Daily Mail reported that a new practice for the school’s criminal law classes now provides trigger warnings (messages that inform students that they’re about to hear something unpleasant) before professors tackle sensitive subjects like homicide and sex crimes. If the students find the subject too offensive, they will be allowed to skip classes altogether.
Criminal law is a required class in Oxford’s legal program — as it is in American law schools — because it is an essential part of one’s legal training. Not only because the world needs criminal lawyers, but because the topics covered in a criminal law class — particularly the very ones Oxford is letting students avoid — train students to push beyond their emotions and analyze the nuances of statutes and situations.
But universities these days have taken to coddling their fragile little angels. Heaven forbid that awareness of negativity shatter their precious psyches! Better to let them bury their heads in the sand. If you can’t learn about murder, it doesn’t exist, right?
How are students supposed to pass a class if they don’t study the material, and how are attorneys supposed to serve their clients if they ignore the world around them? As Oxford law professor Laura Hoyano told the Daily Mail, “If you’re going to study law, you have to deal with things that are difficult.”
Sure, plenty of law students have no intention of going into criminal law. But guess what? When I took criminal law in my first year, I didn’t plan on becoming a prosecutor, but I ended up being one for three years. During that time, I encountered horrifying cases, and occasionally had to speak with the victims of those cases. If I couldn’t keep my emotions in check, I wouldn’t have lasted a day. Studying difficult material from an academic perspective helps prepare lawyers to do just that.
I hope Oxford wakes up and realizes how horrible this idea is, and I really hope other schools don’t follow in their footsteps.
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