Oxford University has called the MailOnline’s claims that it “shields its snowflake professors” by offering counselling to avoid traumatisation from research “very misleading”.
It has also taken issue with the MailOnline’s assertion that “‘Mr and Mrs’ is banned” at the University.
An article, published on 18 December, states that “experienced academics at Oxford University are being offered counselling so they can avoid being traumatised by their research”, which critics are calling “the latest example of pandering to the emotionally delicate ‘snowflake generation’ who are over-sensitive to difficult situations”.
A spokesperson for Oxford University said, “The courses that they referred to are only offered to a very small number of individuals who are doing research involving fieldwork in physically dangerous and emotionally distressing environments.
“As a university, we research some of the most challenging and distressing social issues, such as sexual abuse, genocide, natural disaster or domestic violence. Our vicarious trauma workshops were designed for researchers whose work involved traumatic situations such as war or conflict zones, and whose own safety may have been in jeopardy.
“The health and wellbeing of staff and students working in these areas is a priority for the university. It is important that researchers are also aware of the effects that their research can have on them and their personal and family life.”
These trauma workshops have been offered since October. However, they appear to have been used by the MailOnline in light of the Sunday Times’ claim that Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) had released a leaflet that “told” students to use ‘ze’ as a gender neutral pronoun in place of ‘he’ and ‘she’, which Cherwell revealed to be untrue last week.
In their headline, the MailOnline explicitly states, “First ‘he’ and ‘she’ became ‘ze’. Now ‘Mr and Mrs’ is BANNED: Oxford University tells colleges to ‘remove gender-specific titles'”.
The guidance on the use of non-gendered titles that the MailOnline refers to in its second article, which was also published on 18 December, has been on the website of the University’s Equality and Diversity Unit since 2013.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Oxford University explained that the guidance is “just a suggestion for staff”.
They commented, “Their suggestions arose out of discussions about what was supportive for transgender staff and students, but also from a wider question about whether gendered titles such as Mr and Mrs were outdated as in the academic, collaborative working environment, first names are generally used and marital status is usually irrelevant.”
The MailOnline has been contacted for comment.