Hey U of Chicago: I’m an academic & survivor. I use trigger warnings in my classes. Here’s why.
E Price

I think the issue with Trigger warnings is that they are used to allow students to avoid topics entirely and are utilized by people who they are not an issue for. I have a trigger that I deal with regularly, which is stroke. When I hear someone has a stroke I panic. This is due to some thing that happened in my past, and I work to lessen my panic and over reaction.

However, when I read about use of trigger warnings, or lack thereof, it seems to be students saying they shouldn’t have to read an assignment, or shouldn’t be penalized for missing a class, or because they shouldn’t have to discuss an issue because it is triggering for them. I don’t see that in your use of trigger warnings.

I see in your use the kindness of saying “be prepared next class because we will be talking about the after effects of strokes and I want you to all be ready to discuss this.” I see you saying, “some words and scenarios will trigger painful responses. I want you to know this can happen and I want you to handle what you can. Step out during the vomit inducing images, but come back again when you are ready.” This is what I always understood TW to be, a chance to catch your breath and prepare for what is about to happen. But I have read of instances where it isn’t about preparing, it is about avoiding. And that is wrong, on many levels. I agree everyone is at a different place in dealing with traumas, and maybe someone has to skip a class or not do a reading to avoid a breakdown or a panic attack, and that is ok. But to state that items need to be removed from the syllabus, or topics shouldn’t be used because “someone might be triggered,” that is when they are abused. And every instance I have learned of where “someone might be triggered” is used, it is not a sufferer speaking up, it is a well-intentioned person worrying about things that don’t really affect them.

So I applaud your use of TW.

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