Cambridge's student newspaper publishes woke 'trigger warnings' at the top of stories

Cambridge's student newspaper publishes woke 'trigger warnings' at the top of stories

Cambridge’s student newspaper publishes woke ‘trigger warnings’ at the top of stories that sensitive readers could find upsetting

  • Cambridge University paper Varsity publishing ‘content notes’ on articles
  • Paper concerned about causing offence and has adapted to include the notes
  • University’s archive is also to have trigger warnings on classic children’s books 


Cambridge University’s celebrated student newspaper Varsity was once so fearless that some of its stories resulted in the editor being challenged to a duel.

Now, however, it’s become so worried about causing offence that it’s publishing ‘trigger warnings’ at the top of stories that sensitive readers could find upsetting.

The paper reported last week on the spiking of student drinks on a night out – and readers were told at the top of the article: ‘Content note: This article contains discussion of spiking and sexual harassment.’

In another article about people dressing as Zulus to attend a bonfire, readers were told: ‘Content note: This article contains descriptions and discussions of racism and blackface.’ A third recent story was about a PhD student who was the victim of an attack and alleged police discrimination. Readers were warned: ‘Contains a description of an anti-Asian hate crime and police discrimination.’

The paper, whose print edition has a circulation of 10,000, reported on a row at a student fair where anti-abortionists clashed with pro-choice campaigners. It noted at the top of the article: ‘Content warnings: Abortion, violence against women, protests.’

The student newspaper has become so worried about causing offence that it’s publishing ‘trigger warnings’ at the top of stories that sensitive readers could find upsetting (stock image)

Editor Isabel Sebode told the Daily Mail that Varsity had introduced the warnings because it believed Cambridge students expected not to be upset.

‘It’s just something that’s evolved organically over time,’ she said yesterday. ‘If an article mentions something which may upset somebody, then we believe they’ll want to be made aware of that. It’s effectively protecting them more.’ Miss Sebode believes that national newspapers could soon be forced to follow suit.

‘I can see it starting to happen on other publications,’ she said. ‘Certainly on features. If somebody has been the victim of sexual abuse, for example, they’re probably going to want to be made aware if it’s referred to in a story.

‘I don’t think people nowadays necessarily get any more offended than previous generations. I just think that we are now trying harder to respect people’s feelings by behaving more considerately.’ The paper is following the example of other Cambridge institutions, such as the Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club, which warned that its Christmas production of Rapunzel featured sexism, homophobia and substance abuse.

Editor Isabel Sebode told the Daily Mail that Varsity had introduced the warnings because it believed Cambridge students expected not to be upset (stock image)

Editor Isabel Sebode told the Daily Mail that Varsity had introduced the warnings because it believed Cambridge students expected not to be upset (stock image)

The show by Cambridge Footlights is described as a ‘queer and colourful’ take on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale.

The university’s archive is also to have trigger warnings on classic children’s books for ‘harmful content relating to slavery, colonialism and racism’.

Among Varsity’s former editors are University Challenge host Jeremy Paxman, broadcaster David Frost and Death Wish film director Michael Winner. Some of Sylvia Plath’s earliest poems and JG Ballard’s first published story were written for the paper.

Among Varsity's former editors are University Challenge host Jeremy Paxman, broadcaster David Frost and Death Wish film director Michael Winner

Among Varsity’s former editors are University Challenge host Jeremy Paxman, broadcaster David Frost and Death Wish film director Michael Winner

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/articles.rss

Richard Eden

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