A professor at Harvard Law School warns that law students have grown so sensitive to psychological “triggers” that it is becoming difficult to teach about rape law in law school, and that many professors are considering abandoning the subject entirely.
In an article penned for The New Yorker, Professor Jeannie Suk begins by asking readers to “imagine a medical student who is training to be a surgeon but who fears that he’ll become distressed if he sees or handles blood.” That situation now more or less exists at Harvard, she says, where a number of students are actively avoiding instruction and discussion on the topic of rape law.
Student groups at Harvard, Suk says, now routinely advise students to simply avoid classes and subjects entirely that may traumatize them. Sometimes, it goes beyond avoidance, and students intend seek to modify the classes themselves to accommodate their neuroses.
“Individual students often ask teachers not to include the law of rape on exams for fear that the material would cause them to perform less well,” writes Suk. “One teacher I know was recently asked by a student not to use the word ‘violate’ in class—as in ‘Does this conduct violate the law?’—because the word was triggering. Some students have even suggested that rape law should not be taught because of its potential to cause distress.”
Depending on how she pronounces it, Professor Suk’s last name could in itself be a trigger – change it!
UPDATE: It occurs to me that much of our body of law is off limits to these fragile flowers. Real estate law, for instance, includes a provision against forcible entry and detainer.