Theology students at the University of Glasgow in Scotland have been given "trigger warnings" and told they can leave class if depictions of Jesus Christ's crucifixion are too upsetting for them.
The Daily Mail reported on Wednesday that the university's decision is part of a trigger warning trend for teachers to tell students in advance about potentially upsetting material in class.
The trigger warning was reportedly issued for the course titled "Creation to Apocalypse: Introduction to the Bible (Level 1)," with university documents warning that the lectures sometimes contain "graphic scenes of the crucifixion, and this is flagged up to students beforehand."
Glasgow University explained its decision in a statement: "We have an absolute duty of care to all of our students and where it is felt course material may cause potential upset or concern warnings may be given."
Former-Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, the Rev. David Robertson, told Premier's News Hour that students in such courses should be prepared to encounter upsetting content.
"These are meant to be university students, they're meant to be the leaders of the future, they're meant to be our intelligentsia," the chaplain said.
"If they can't cope with basic stuff like that, then one wonders whether they should be studying it all."
Robertson said the crucifixion was indeed "utterly horrendous," but that does not mean that it needs to be sanitized.
"It's almost comedic and laughable, actually. I think my biggest problem with it is, 'What do you expect in the crucifixion?' The Cross is going to be horrible. Are you going to Disneyify it?"
Liz Smith of the Scottish Tory education also challenged the university's move.
"Universities are meant to be a place of learning where concepts are challenged and tricky subjects debated," she said.
"That will become increasingly difficult if they go too far out of their way to ensure everything survives the politically correct test. Some of the examples set out here are patently ridiculous."
The trigger warnings have grown in use at a number of Scottish colleges, with the University of Stirling, for instance, warning students about gender studies:
"We cannot anticipate or exclude the possibility that you may encounter material which is triggering [i.e., which can trigger a negative reaction] and we urge that you take all necessary precautions to look after yourself in and around the program."
Students are apparently told that "you can, of course, leave a class at any time should you need to, but please check in ... later that day to let us know how you are."