Did UK college tell profs ‘Don’t frighten sensitive students?’

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Someone at Leeds Trinity University in the United Kingdom apparently must have just invested in crying towels and teddy bears, because a directive has reportedly gone out to journalism professors that they must not use certain words that “frighten sensitive students,” according to Fox News.

There’s a flap in Great Britain over a university allegedly advising professors not to use all capital letters because it might alarm sensitive students. (Screen snip, YouTube, RT)

But a story at I News suggests the issue is overblown and that the university “has not banned its lecturers from using capital letters when setting assignments to students, despite numerous reports to the contrary.”

According to I News, “But the vice chancellor has released a statement denying the university has outlawed caps, and explaining its “personal and inclusive” approach to learning.

“It suggested writing in a friendly tone, avoiding overbearing language, and said capping up entire words or phrases could have negative effects.

“Despite our best attempts to explain assessment tasks, any lack of clarity can generate anxiety and even discourage students from attempting the assessment at all,” the memo reportedly reads.

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The news agency said critics “claimed the memo was another case over pandering to the ‘snowflake’ generation, with one Leeds Trinity lecturer telling the Express: “We are not doing our students any favours with this kind of nonsense.”

Fox noted that the initial story “quickly spread across the UK media.”

This raises the proverbial “Sixty-four dollar” question: Can the media get a story wrong? Ask RT news which ran this story.

In a memo quoted by Fox and other news agencies, Vice-Chancellor Margaret House insisted, “We follow national best practice teaching guidelines and the memo cited in the press is guidance from a course leader to academic staff, sharing best practice from the latest teaching research to inform their teaching.

“For every assignment, academic staff have an ‘unpacking’ session with students so the students are clear on what is expected,” she continued. “The majority of universities do this. It is also about good communication and consistent style. For example, it is best practice not to write in all capital letters regardless of the sector.

“We are absolutely committed to enhancing and enriching the student learning experience at Leeds Trinity, where staff and students are a name not a number,” House said.

Was it only a couple of generations ago when college-age British citizens were landing on the beaches of Normandy, fighting in the jungles of southeast Asia, and matching their aerial skills with the German Luftwaffe? Would it have mattered at all to those daring lads involved in Operation Deadstick who took the bridges crossing the River Orne in the wee hours of June 6, 1944 whether their orders to “hold until relieved” had been written in all capital letters?

Whether the university is catering to the sensitivity of wusses, or the situation is being exaggerated, the fact that it happened at all seems alarming enough to make international news.

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