Trigger warnings and being responsible for your students

There’s been a spate of articles this spring stoking a controversy about “trigger warnings” in college classes. I say stoking a controversy because I have yet to see much evidence that there is a real conflict around this, rather than some experimentation at a few campuses plus the looming interest of the chattering class, most of which enjoys both reminiscing about college and opining about the state of the youth today. For the sake of adding a bit of data to the conversation, I thought I’d share the strategy for content warnings I used in teaching this semester. (I’ll note that like all instructional practice, these are strategies I will surely tweak and revise in future semesters, and I welcome comments to that end.)

Why trigger warnings?

Trigger warnings, at least as I know them, come out of feminist and social justice blogging, where it’s become standard to add a brief alert to readings at the beginning of a post that deals with especially violent or graphic sexual content. So for example, if I wrote a piece about Jerry Sandusky, the post might begin: “Trigger Warning: child sexual abuse.” The idea is to alert readers who have undergone trauma of their own that they are about to encounter information that might set off a particularly strong reaction.

Some instructors at colleges have taken up similar practices, and according to the reporting I linked above, it seems that student groups at a few campuses have been pushing to encourage (or perhaps require?) all instructors to consider doing so.

Much of the negative reaction to trigger warnings seems to fall into two camps, fear about censorship and concern about coddling students. I sympathize with these concerns, which I think may be rooted in our shared experience of an increasingly corporatized university system where intellectual freedom may be under a slow assault. Yes, there are many ways in which universities have come to see young people as customers to be attracted and appeased, not as students to be pushed and challenged. But I encourage other instructors to at least momentarily set aside political concerns and consider the issue from a pedagogical and ethical point of view. I think that something like a trigger warning can be a useful tool for creating a classroom environment that feels safe enough for students to be able to tackle difficult subjects.

My position is influenced by having spent some years in the feminist blogosphere audience, and my reading of trigger warnings has always been that they are simply warnings so that readers know what they’re about to get into. Perhaps someone who knows that reading about sexual assault will set of a strong emotional reaction will put off reading that story on their lunch break at work, and instead pick it up again at home. Someone else may not care at all, and can click through to read right away. Posts on difficult subjects have not disappeared from feminist blogs since the advent of trigger warnings, and a skim through comments sections on some such pieces will often show readers who were viscerally reminded of their own experiences.

From an instructor’s point of view, I consider that students may be doing their homework at home–or in downtime at a workplace, in a public area like a library or cafeteria, side by side with friends or teammates in a group study session, or any number of other environments. They might be planning to go to work, or sleep, or a high-stakes exam after studying. If the reading I assigned might prompt a student to be overcome by a memory of being assaulted, to be taken with rage or sadness (whether from personal experience or not) at reading in depth about genocide, then would it be such a bad thing for the student to know that in advance and be able to plan their reading schedule accordingly?

Note that I said absolutely nothing about cutting uncomfortable readings out of my syllabus, despite that the media framing of this story sets up an opposition between assigning provocative readings and using trigger warnings.

“Safe spaces and comfort zones”: one set of practices

Basically, I see content warnings as part of building an overall classroom environment that is conducive to students feeling both supported and challenged. On the first day of class this semester, I pointed out the following section in my syllabus, which fell under the heading Student Responsibilities:

This course covers a broad range of material, including topics that may be sexually explicit, politically controversial, or simply strange enough to make some students uncomfortable. You are not expected to agree with every perspective presented in class (indeed, I don’t agree with every author on this syllabus!). You are, however, expected to read carefully and with an open mind. Disagreement with course materials, fellow students, and/or your instructor is welcome as long as it is thoughtful, grounded in evidence, and shared in a constructive way.

This being an intro-level Gender and Women’s Studies course, we spent the first two weeks reading and discussing the evidence that gender and sex are socially constructed, which then set up a brief lecture at the end of week two about praxis. I pointed out that if it’s true that sex and gender are constructed, if that one’s biology and gender identity often have a complex relationship, then it actually becomes quite difficult to generalize about “women” or “men” as a category, as some students had been doing in their comments in class (“Ugh, we all know what a pain getting your period is!”)

I asked the class to help construct what I called a “safe space” in the classroom by trying to use language thoughtfully, using inclusive language as much as possible, avoiding making assumptions about what experiences their classmates shared, or working from stereotypes instead of evidence. I then explained that I wanted to distinguish between a “safe space,” where everyone feels welcome in class and able to share their ideas, and a “comfort zone,” where people hold on to their pre-existing ideas and never challenge themselves. I want this class to be a safe space, I said, but I want you to get out of your comfort zones. Being uncomfortable can sometimes be an important part of learning new ideas and new ways of thinking.

Several students commented that they liked this idea, aiming for safety as opposed to comfort in the classroom. I referred back to it occasionally throughout the semester when we covered topics that were a bit uncomfortable for some, whether that was due to graphic content or perspectives that they really disagreed with. For the most part it seemed to help get the class in the right mindset. By the end of the semester many of them had remarked at different moments that a certain reading or assignment had gotten them thinking about a new idea, or to take more seriously a point of view they didn’t agree with. I’ll count that a success!

Using trigger warnings

I don’t actually use the phrase “trigger warning” in class–it strikes me as problematic because it assumes a certain kind of PTSD reaction which readers may or may not have in response to particular content. But I do agree with the general idea of letting students know up front when they’re about to engage with topics that may be especially troubling, like rape, sexual assault, or graphic descriptions of violence. So in addition to the general statement about content in my syllabus, I posted statements like these along with readings that dealt with those topics:

All three of this week’s readings deal in various ways with race/nationality, gender, and forms of violence, including sexual violence.” [For book chapters about mass rape during the Partition of India and the treatment of women IRA in prisons.]

“This reading includes graphic descriptions of sexual assault.” [For an article about (lack of) prosecution of sexual assault on college campuses.]

My goal was simply to alert students to certain kinds of content, not to predict what reactions they might have. For the first set of readings that dealt extensively with rape and violence, I also posted a generic offer:

Friday and in week 10 the readings will deal with sexual violence against women. This is an important topic but can be a difficult one. Please contact me if you don’t feel you’ll be able to discuss these subjects in class so that we can work out an alternate assignment.

No student took me up on this. We’ll see if anyone does in the future.

Notice again that nowhere did I remove difficult subjects from the syllabus, or even imply that certain readings were optional. My goal instead was to convey three things to students:

1) That I care about their general well-being and want them to be in an environment in which they feel safe exploring difficult subjects.

2) That it’s important for them to explore difficult subjects.

3) That I respect them enough to let them have some control over when and how to approach those assignments.

All in all, I suppose I could sum up my approach this way. I agree that we as instructors have some responsibility to challenge or “provoke” our students. But if we’re going to do that, we bear some responsibility for the reactions we provoke. At the very least, we need to make sure our students’ discomfort has a purpose, and we have to set them up to be able to learn from those provocative materials.


69 thoughts on “Trigger warnings and being responsible for your students

  1. This post is outside my experience, as I’d never heard of ‘trigger warnings’ before. However, when at secondary school we had to look at the holocaust in history lessons, and I found it harrowing. And at university, I once sat in on an MA history seminar on the body and society, in which some pretty challenging research into sexuality was discussed without warning. The main thing that comes through in reading your post is your evident concern for the best interests of your students.

  2. I took a media literacy class at college this past semester and my professor, in discussing the dangers of pro-ana and pro-mia websites, put a screenshot of a pro-ana site on the board without any sort of indication ahead of time. Despite being a media literacy professor, she was unfamiliar with the trend of including a “trigger warning” with sensitive topics. Apparently a few students emailed her and let her know that this was upsetting to them, and she immediately sent a long email apologizing and promising to do better at warning us before she discusses potentially difficult topics.
    This post is excellent: very well-written and thought-provoking. I really like your approach of distinguishing between safe space and comfort zone, as well as your idea of not predicting how someone will react (that it would trigger certain emotions) but rather letting them know ahead of time a bit of what to expect from a text.

  3. I taught for thirty plus years. I unfortunately struck some triggers. One in particular was dumb as hell. There were these three brothers who caught AIDS from blood transfusions. No fault of their own. I said a dumb thing. Why are the authorities forcing these kids to go to school. I think they should just go fishing and drop out of school. That was a dumb thing to say and I paid consequences.

  4. I have definitely been in classes where teachers have trigger warnings that were helpful for me. I think for most people, trigger warnings aren’t used as an excuse to get out of class, but rather a chance to prepare yourself mentally for a topic. I think when students have a day or two to prepare for a topic is does foster a more open and safe environment. Thanks for writing about this topic, I think it’s a great one to discuss!

  5. Thank you for taking such steps for your students, and being willing to provide alternative assignments. You might not have had a student accept the offer yet, but I imagine that you will at some point in time. I can only hope that other instructors are as sensitive as you in regards to this particular matter.

  6. I think you strike an elegant balance between challenging your students to think critically about difficult subject matter and respecting the importance of a safe learning environment.

  7. Though I am notoriously against most forms of what I call “political correctness”, I find your discussion on Trigger Warnings very balanced and even handed. It neither requires excessive preparation on the part of the instructor, nor does it pander to yet another infinitely divisible group of society. I don’t think instructors should be forced to adopt the practice, but I imagine it is something that could very well become standard in academia.

    • I definitely agree that specific requirements for how to approach material shouldn’t be forced on instructors–academic freedom is (or at least ought to be!) a fundamental value on campuses.

    • Though I am notoriously against most forms of what I call “political correctness”,

      Glad to know you’re against most forms of being a decent human being to those who’ve had less luck than you have.

  8. I haven’t encountered these in my own experience, but I’ll often give students a heads up if something is particularly intense. I find that giving them a warning actually allows for better discussion. Instead of trying to digest the shock privately, they understand it’s awkward for more than just themselves, and we can discuss that awkwardness better.

    That being said, I’ve been in a situation where I wish there was a trigger warning. I spent the entire time distracted with trying not to cry in front of everyone, and I gained nothing from that experience. It certainly didn’t encourage me to go further with that subject. Whereas I’ve been able to sit through several sessions on the same topic when I had notice and knew what was coming. It isn’t about coddling; it’s about acknowledging people’s baggage they may still be dealing with. Coddling is changing the topic completely to avoid discomfort all the way around.

    I think this is a very balance approach. It’s simply warning folks that they’re about to be potentially outside their comfort zone – and then going there.

    • Thank you for sharing! Your experience is exactly the kind of thing I was thinking about–it’s not about trying to shield people from hard subjects, but to try to make sure they’re prepared to really be able to work through those subjects.

      giving them a warning actually allows for better discussion

      This is a slightly different topic, but I’ve also found this to be the case when addressing other subjects that get lumped under the “pc issues” label, like racism. Sometimes it almost feels like students are relieved when we open up space to talk about their own shock or confusion or difficulty.

      • A note, trigger warnings have allowed for some amazing discussions among my high schoolers – both sophomore and senior levels.

  9. Since when is it the the responsibility of others to ensure you aren’t triggered by something? When is personal responsibility going to come back? I had a crappy life with every type of abuse. When I went to nursing school, I was triggered multiple times a day, in a variety of ways. It was not the responsibility of my professors, the authors of the textbooks, or the simulation program writers to make sure I wouldn’t get triggered. It was my own. I was an adult. As I had issues arise, I went to my therapist or the student counseling center to discuss it. I did not expect them to coddle me and work around what may or may not trigger 100-500 students in a course. I still suffer from PTSD from my abuse but I am responsible for my thoughts, feelings, actions, and reactions. No one else! We have infantilized our children to the point they cannot think or act on their own, lack common sense, and some are so codependent they cannot function or ever leave home. My 50 something cousin has a law degree from SMU, he never took the bar, and never left home. #failuretolaunch

    • Thanks for the reply. I waffled for a few minutes about how to phrase the last thought in my post, about responsibility, precisely because I didn’t want to imply that an instructor has total responsibility for (or control over!) students’ feelings and reactions. And there’s probably also a danger in going overboard and assuming that all survivors of any kind of trauma are fragile or can’t take care of themselves or something. I do think that on the instructor end, we have some responsibility to be thoughtful about what we assign and how we address it in class, though–but certainly not all!

    • I’m sorry that you had a rough life. It makes me sad that, instead of doing things that would ensure that other people don’t have to face as many difficulties you did, you seem to want them to have just as hard a time or worse. That part doesn’t make any sense to me.

      • I have done many things to ensure others have a better life than I did. I am a RN. You do not know the whole story. You don’t know my story. At some point we need to be responsible for ourselves and stop tip toing around because someone may or may not be offended. Too many are blaming others rather than doing something to change. If I never succeed at anything else in this life but to ensure my daughter reaches adulthood without being sexually abused by a family member or friend, it will be my greatest achievement. I will have saved my daughter from our horrible family legacy. I have not abused or assaulted others because it was done to me. I chose to face my demons and vow to break the cycle of abuse in my family.

      • You didn’t pose a question. All I see are sentences ending in periods not question marks. If it’s rhetorical then why should I? Look at what I posted yesterday from Dear Abby.

    • Ah, yes, “personal responsibility,” the right-wing notion that as a society we don’t have any responsibilities to one another, which would be “coddling.”

      • I am far from right wing but I am not responsible for anyone’s thoughts, feelings, or actions. I cannot make someone feel anything. Try reading Facing Codependence by Pia Mellody. I choose not to enable anyone. Students are in college because they are adults. It is no longer high school. They have the right to vote, they no longer live at home with mommy and daddy, they are often married with children of their own, and you want to argue over the semantics of personal responsibility and label me? Piss off! I was a single mother at 18. I survived sexual, mental, physical, and emotional abuse at the hands of family members, I was raped as a teen. I was on public assistance while I went to college to get my degree in nursing. I got triggered in class but I stayed in class and did what I had to do to get the job done! You have no idea what my political leanings are. My father was gay and died of AIDS in 1988. My husband had no insurance and died of Melanoma at 37 in 2010. SO GET OFF YOU IDEOLOGICAL HIGH HORSE! You don’t know me! I have been a RN for 17 years and I do it because it is my calling not for a paycheck. I grew up in the south with a Jewish last name afraid the KKK would burn down or fire bomb our house even though we were christian. I was called a kike, JAP, and any other slur associated with being an Ashekenazi Jew. Then I got to be discriminated against and marginalized for being a single unwed mother on medicaid and welfare. So kiss my ass! I have included the meaning of coddle below for you you ignorant jackass!

        cod·dle verb \ˈkä-dəl\ : to treat (someone) with too much care or kindness

  10. Having gone where few men fear to treat … I admire you immensely. I had one suicide, completely out of nowhere (after a fight with his parents, apparently) and one attempted suicide, in which I should have seen the trigger warnings. You’re a smart guy. I hope that means you’re gay 🙂

  11. I appreciate the approach you take to this and the balance you strive for between safety and moving out of comfort zones. An explanation of your actual practice is far more helpful than the posts of “trigger happy” pundits. It tells me you care about your students while caring for academic rigor in your work. Thank you.

  12. A lot of the comments have commended the “thoughtful and nuanced approach” to trigger warnings – and whilst I absolutely feel that your handling of the topic is great, and the approach to the content warnings shows a lot of care for your students, I must say that there is nothing nuanced about it. It is just straight up how trigger warnings work. It’s a “Heads-up, this reading deals with topic X and the associated lecture will also deal with topic Y”, at which point persons that have problems with topics X and Y can plan their self-care and scheduling around the lecture and doing the reading.
    Content warnings allow -more- people to participate in the conversation about topics they’d otherwise have to avoid.

    CW: genocide
    I lost family in Srebrenica, and have a resulting difficulty with genocides, strange how that works, and thus the study of history is a dodgy area for me, and I would absolutely avoid the class “genocides in history” but basically EVERY history class will cover at least one genocide. So I can either avoid history classes, or the prof can go “So, this reading deals with the assyrian genocide/holocaust/bosnian genocide and the lectures covering this will be weeks 8-10”. If the latter is the option chosen I can prepare ahead of time, make sure I’m in a good enough headspace when doing the reading, approach the work-shop leader and inform them that I might have difficulties participating and discussing options, rounding up my self-care resources so they are available following the lectures, and presto! I can take history, AND partake in the academic discussion around genocides.
    And citing “academic freedom” to support NOT doing a content warning is mostly just saying “Hey, this inconveniences me and that is more important than your distress” and means you are an arse.

    • Re: academic freedom, I just meant that it could become problematic to have an institutionalized requirement for handling difficult subjects in a particular, set way. (This is very much a hypothetical–I don’t really foresee the student social justice groups campaigning for trigger warnings actually having a huge amount of power over university faculty.) Ideally this would be the kind of thing instructors voluntarily adopt and adapt to their own courses and teaching styles. I do think that emphasizing the real benefits to student learning is a way to promote that, so that people don’t approach it as simply a nice thing to do but also a pedagogically useful and helpful thing to do as well.

      Thanks for sharing your experience!

  13. I should note that (as you can see from the rest of the blog) I don’t normally get this much traffic, and I probably would have edited this post a bit more if I’d thought anyone was going to read it. Thanks for your comments, everyone! I will definitely be thinking about them as I continue to work on this set of classroom policies.

  14. During one of my uni classes the lecturer ‘warned’ the class that there was strong language in an upcoming video clip. The language was nothing worse than you’d hear in the student cafeteria, but the violence in the scene was horrendous. Hmm. Political correctness or what?

  15. Trigger warnings are good so long as it doesn’t mean avoiding teaching materials that would require warnings. I suffered abuse. It used to be for me that if there is an unexpected trigger it would result in flashbacks, sometimes to the point of forgetting where I actually was, whereas if I expected it I could control the flashbacks. Psychologically I’m now in a much better place and I don’t get flashbacks at all anymore but I definitely encourage the use of trigger warnings.

  16. Over at my blog, we’ve had a couple of discussions on similar issues over the past year or so, so I’ve been intrigued by the whole “trigger warning” debate. I share your feelings about the term “trigger warning” and can’t see myself using it, but I teach CEGEP (in the Quebec system, a transitional college leading to university or to trades), and so most of my students are quite young, and my college is also extremely culturally diverse, including students of all sorts of religious affiliations, some of them very strict. So there are all sorts of layers of complexity to consider when choosing and introducing texts.

    For example, a colleague had an experience last year in which a group of students said they didn’t want to read a book she’d assigned because it was “too sad.” We discussed the problem here, and commenters came up with lots of interesting solutions:

    Earlier in the year, I wrestled with myself about putting a book on the course list because I wasn’t sure some of my students could handle the graphic sexual content. Most commenters encouraged me to list it anyway, but in the end, I pulled it for a number of reasons:

    And this semester I DIDN’T encounter a problem that, now that I look back, I probably should have anticipated. One course assignment involves students choosing books from a list, based on excerpts. In past years I’ve always given brief introductions of each book in class, but have discovered that students often make their choices based solely on my comments, without looking at the excerpts, so this term I gave them no input and left it up to them to do the reading. I overlooked the fact that one of the excerpts is the horrifying rape scene that opens Alice Sebold’s memoir Lucky. I wonder now if some students resent the fact that they were plunged into that text with no warning. In future, I will write a note at the top of the excerpt to warn them.

  17. Reblogged this on Violently Floral and commented:
    I thought this was an interesting read: Putting up trigger warnings, or any form of note should not discourage you from reading the more gritty things, in your own time. I always like the idea of challenging yourself, always putting yourself in a, as the author put it, “safe zone”, where we might feel uncomfortable, but safe to the best of our ability get through the work.

    Some works do affect me in that manner, mainly things concerning death, death of a friend, or family. A slight mention in a film or text, and set me thinking about it the entire night, days even, depending on how serious it is, how in-depth it is. That does not mean that I won’t put myself in that spot, but slowly, over time.

    My mum used to tell me: 流汗不流泪。

    Which means you can sweat, but not cry. It’s not very healthy, but basically how I interpreted it is, that through “plowing” through these emotional barriers, I can grow as a person, and not cry over spilt milk.

    I do want to cry though.

    • Thanks for this. I’ll be pondering that saying for a while, I think, and that complicated set of feelings–wanting to grow and overcome but also cry, at the same time.

  18. Pingback: Trigger warnings are not censorship | buzzcarl

  19. I must admit that I thoroughly got impressed by the idea of using trigger warnings. It will definitely help in tackling and managing emotional disturbance. Further I think the idea can be spread outside a classroom and can be used for articles. Articles can be tagged with trigger warning words.

  20. I especially appreciate the syllabus blurb you shared and the way you frame the issue. I see your point about how the reporting on this topic over the past week has, as you say, “stoked” the controversy. As a college English teacher, my concern is over the long list of elements that would require, as policy, trigger warnings. It seems fair enough to alert students about works that contain sexual abuse and other kinds of graphic violence, but I know that as an instructor sometimes I don’t realize ways in which work is triggering (outside of the aforementioned categories) until after I’ve assigned it and we discuss it in class. I’m not certain I’d be able to track all of the categories I’ve seen listed, and if providing detailed and consistent trigger warnings were a part of my school’s policy, I worry I’d be vulnerable to the occasional disgruntled student or helicopter parent.

    • You raise an important point about implementation, and even just looking over the comments on my post alone it’s so clear that people are triggered by many different things, some of which were unexpected even to them. My hope (hope!) is that if we make a sincere effort to open up a “safe space,” it will create some room to deal with the unanticipated. For me one of the almost scary things about teaching is that you don’t really know what might come up, how your students might react to things.

  21. I do appreciate this. I plan to teach nursing and have applied for admission to grad school. The day I got triggered in school it was completely unexpected and there was no way my instructors could have anticipated it, My son was born with pneumonia and did not cry at birth. It took several minutes to resuscitate him. We were doing a childbirth simulation program and when the baby was born it was pink and crying. My son wasn’t. There is no way anyone could have planned or prepared for my reaction. I wasn’t prepared for my reaction but they were my feelings and I was responsible to deal with them appropriately. Thanks again for you article

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. The way you put it makes me think that the deeper issue here isn’t necessarily what specific policy a given instructor uses, but rather remembering that students come to a class with a whole range of histories and experiences. There’s no way we can anticipate every possible reaction (or even should, necessarily) but we should be aware that things can unexpectedly come up that have real, strong effects on students. Good luck on your nursing degree!

    • You are at the wrong job if you are being “triggered” by a completely normal part of your job. I’m afraid that my child might be left in the care of the likes of you, who cannot even handle routine procedures of their job. the medical profession (even if “just” a nurse) is one with great responsibilities. People might die. They are in need and often completely helpless. Their life and/or well-being depends on the skills resolution of the medical specialists and their helpers. It is completely irresponsible of you to work at this job and maybe you will find happiness in health consultancy instead.

      At least you recognize that you are responsible to deal with your feelings when performing such a demanding job. One step forward- but there are people who never needed to make that step, so you are always behind.

      • You are jumping to conclusions. That was 20 years and a lifetime ago. I have been a RN 17 years and a critical care nurse for the past 14 years. I have dealt with more than you will ever know or experience! The only reason I am going to teach nursing is because I have a bulging disc in my spine I got while trying to prevent a confused patient from harming themself. I am wise enough not to do obstetrics or pediatric nursing. My specialty is cardiac cathlab, ICU, and radiology. I was responsible for my issues then and dealt with them, otherwise I would not have had the career I’ve had. Next time try thinking before judging someone and jumping to conclusions. You know what happens when you ASS-U-ME!

      • No amount of thinking would let me know your background. I was provided with the information of your post which appeared very naive, inexperienced at least. ” I have dealt with more than you will ever know or experience!” is also very assumptive for someone who just defended her secret background from my ah-so-uninformed attack.

        But I see you acted maturely by knowing your issues. I hope the trigger warning crowd will follow your example.

      • You still know nothing about me and I am not in favor of trigger warnings. If you would bother to scroll up to previous posts you will see what I posted about personal responsibility and being against trigger warnings. Once again you are making assumptions without all the facts. Also you inserted yourself into a conversation and had no idea of the content or context. So as I replied to you post below. If you had bothered to read other posts in the thread you would have seen we are of the same opinion regarding trigger warnings.

      • Hah, I literally made no assumption at all in my last post and I know that you are against trigger warnings, as I just said “I hope the trigger warning crowd will follow your example.”.

        Here is another assumption I made from following some of your posts: you are borderline unstable and write like a teenager even though you are born in ’72.

        But I digress into ad hominems. I’ll close the subject here.

      • Do me a favor never make comment to me again. I want nothing to do with a misogynystic bigot nazi. I looked at your blog. I have no tolerance for men that think women or anyone else are beneath them. I am proud to be of Ashkenazi descent. Our family has survived through multiple attempts to wipes out Jews around the world. Before you get too high and mighty about your European bloodline you might want to get a DNA test to be sure you are what you think you are!

      • And again it is you who is making assumptions. I’m getting real tired of your charade, nurse. Amusing also that you are proud of your Ashkenazi descent, while I may not be “high and mighty” about my European bloodline. But you are not the first who doesn’t understand the point of my fledgling blog. Don’t worry, you aren’t the target group anyway.

  22. It seems like it is being suggested that students should not get in contact with uncomfortable things, which is quite absurd. Even more absurd is how those triggers will actually applied: trigger warnings for history during the colonial era, “Merchant of Venice” (anti semitism!), “Huckleberry Finn” (racism!), “Othello” (racism!), “The Holy Bible” (violence!). Universities are not the place of intellectual confrontation and provocation; not real institutions of actual investigation and learning, but a sanatorium and charity helping people with mental disorders to get through a specially modified timetable with individualized modules. And don’t even mention affirmative action. The institution called university is being razed and manipulated by the whims of the masses and trending subculture phenomena. Disgraceful. Another step back from an once defining European heritage; watered down and modified to suit even the most degenerated and weak of society.

    • Another step back from an once defining European heritage; watered down and modified to suit even the most degenerated and weak of society.

      It’d be impossible to Godwin this comment.

  23. Nowadays more people have been abused than we may think and we can’t even narrow that down to women only. Our world is depraved, so it would be very easy to open up wounds of a victim in a classroom of 30 – 100 students; there’s just a higher chance. I agree so much with several of your comments. One in particular, that we should have a reason for opening up that old wound. What are we going to help them learn from it? Let’s be sure that in the journey we help them cope, meditate, and process the experience so that it can heal more effectively. Maybe next time, they won’t need such a loud trigger warning.

  24. Anything a teacher or school can do to lower the stress of working or studying in a high school has got to be adopted. When i
    I was at high school some 40 years ago the corridors were like gauntlets one had to walk, and every time you had to walk, you dreaded bumping into this or that person. Fortunately I didn’t find life to be quite that bad. High School is one of the most hostile and dangerous places on the planet.

  25. Can people just stop being so fucking sensitive and start dealing with reality? I never heard of a depression era WW2 vet complaining that they weren’t given a trigger warning.

    • Trigger warnings are a form of dealing with reality. How about you stop being so fucking insensitive and deal with realities that other people than you have to cope with?

      As for WWII vets, given how normalized heavy drinking was in the 1950s, I question the glorification of that sort of stoic suffering.

      • I still say this is crazy. Pretty soon people will demand trigger warnings because there is a picture of a cat and it might “trigger” someone’s fear of cats. When does this stop? Where are the boundaries? Its just another way to limit free speech and increase the affect political correctness.

        BTW I’m sure that 1950’s were a much better time to be alive. Who wouldn’t want stable families, taxes so low that 1 income could support them, low levels of violence in inner cities, schools that teach and enforce discipline, etc…

      • There weren’t stable families. It was all whitewashed to hide all the skeletons in the closet. You wouldn’t believe the stuff we’ve found out since relatives have begun to pass away. The truth is coming to light.

  26. I had several people disagree with my statement when will personal responsibility return. We cannot be held responsible for someone else’s thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. Dear Abby agrees about being an adult and being responsible for your baggage. “DEAR DRAINED: I’m sorry for your family’s loss, but we are all responsible for our own behavior and our own emotions. You can’t force “help” on your dysfunctional sister. Before she’ll be willing to accept that she needs it, she will have to accept that she has been responsible for her own mistakes and behavior. If your father had lived, her life might not have been any different than it is.

    The person who could use some professional help might be your mother. Counseling might help her to quit trying to rescue her adult daughter, or blaming herself for the problems D has created for herself. I’m not saying it will be easy — letting go rarely is. But it might improve her emotional and physical health.” Retrieved 6/6/2014 from

  27. Pingback: Own what you like | librarykris

  28. I really like your approach. I agree that warning people is a great courtesy, and I don’t think people can really argue against your approach if they understand it correctly. It’s very reasonable and respectful.

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