A Philadelphia-based theater company even offered to direct uncomfortable audience members to a safe space in the lobby. Universities should also officially and strongly discourage trigger warnings. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it. It should be no surprise that students are exhibiting similar sensitivity. They hide behind ideas like freedom of thought and artistic expression, but these are just buzzwords for their real agenda: attacking vulnerable communities, such as people of color and victims of sexual violence. Of course there may be instances in which a teacher judges it necessary to alert students to potentially difficult material and that is his or her right. If we put a disclaimer on this course, then we should put a disclaimer on all literature courses, and I do not feel comfortable going down that slippery slope.
Search-engine trends indicate that the phrase broke into mainstream use online around 2011, spiked in 2014, and reached an all-time high in 2015. From to to , parodies of gym class are a pop-culture darling. Williams and Emory University professor Scott O. These are standards and principles that American University will not compromise. My approach on the first day of class, when I discuss the purpose of the course and learning goals, is to review the syllabus, pointing out topics that may be emotionally difficult, such as trauma and eating issues. Finally, universities should rethink the skills and values they most want to impart to their incoming students.
No other form of psychotherapy has been shown to work for a broader range of problems. It is not unreasonable for students to expect teachers to be able to explain the reasons for the selection of material and to answer questions about its contemporary meaning and relevance. Same vein as claiming victim status as a means to shush your opposition or whatever is contrary to your agenda. Of course, words can inspire intense reactions, but they have no intrinsic danger. So far, no schools have required trigger warnings. Read on at your own risk, or stop reading now.
But I also realize that the way we talk about sexual violence today -- and the way we treat victims -- is deeply imperfect. What is a trigger warning? It contains foul language, nudity, sexual situations, and violence. A substantial minority 17% view trigger warnings favorably. Trigger warnings are being spread throughout syllabi, and professors are taking extra care to avoid certain words or phrases that could potentially offend any of their students. The quote was interpreted as a threat by a campus administrator, who received a notification after Schmidt posted the picture; it had been sent, automatically, to a whole group of contacts. This is a post about trigger warnings. Perhaps more concerning, they often cover a much broader range of expression—content that doesn't seem very worthy of forewarning.
Supporters and critics of trigger warnings alike are opposed to administrators requesting or requiring their use. I'm not against all trigger warnings, however. I am an advocate for trigger warnings, so this passive-aggressive statement does not reflect my personal or professional stance here. Trigger warnings are advisories often written in bold type and affixed to a post, tweet, YouTube video or increasingly, a class syllabus. This is how it feels. Trigger warnings aren't for the weak.
The University that, because of its commitment to freedom of expression, it does not support warnings to students about potentially difficult material. And what about students who might refuse material that is contrary to other belief systems? I just finished talking today in Mass Communication Law about the freedom to know as a corollary of the 1st Amendment. In a senior sociology seminar, I showed a clip from The Invisible War, a documentary about sexual assault in the military. Many—but not all—educators believe that trigger warnings have adverse effects on academic freedom and the learning environment. In the process, the bar for what we consider unacceptable speech is lowered further and further. But the bigger truth, and what Jarvie doesn't really grapple with in her piece, is that trigger warnings are an imperfect but sometimes necessary band-aid on the open and gaping wounds plaguing college campuses -- rampant sexual violence, for starters. We strive to equip our students with the critical thinking skills to reason through difficult issues that challenge their values and beliefs.
Once you find something hateful, it is easy to argue that exposure to the hateful thing could traumatize some other people. We believe that this is still—and will always be—the best attitude for American universities. If you want to go into a movie blind, you never have to look at it. During a traumatic event, a person will likely have a number of sensory experiences that then become linked with their memory of the trauma. Childhood itself has changed greatly during the past generation.
You might call this impulse vindictive protectiveness. The college rejected the request of the Shultz family to ban the teaching of these works, but agreed to add a trigger warning to the syllabus. Consider two of the most prominent disinvitation targets of 2014: former U. Even joking about microaggressions can be seen as an aggression, warranting punishment. The impetus for trigger warnings is a series of communications from the U. According to the most-basic tenets of psychology, the very idea of helping people with anxiety disorders avoid the things they fear is misguided.