On Trigger Warnings

“University of Chicago:University Tells Incoming Students It Does Not Support ‘Trigger Warnings’ or ‘Safe Spaces’

‘Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings’ … and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces,’’ the dean of students wrote.”

Ok, so, for one, you’re not unique here. The majority of schools don’t do this and leave trigger warnings up to the individual professor’s discretion. Safe spaces are usually created and maintained by student-run organizations. Most universities are douchebags like this, you’re just drawing attention to the fact that you’re douchebags.

Two, what’s with “so-called” trigger warnings? You’re a university; you should be aware that triggers are a real psychological phenomenon, right? PTSD is a real thing, I don’t know if you knew that. There’s a wikipedia page and everything.

Three, the example that you use to defend your choice is your desire to talk about rape law without having to coddle your students. And hey, you know what, that’s fine. Nobody who’s taking a course on rape law is going to expect to not talk about rape. But what students are looking for is general warnings in other classes where topics like rape, suicide, or racism might not be expected.

Students are looking for topics that are painful and hurtful to them to be mentioned in the syllabus so they can plan around them or make efforts to cope with them. They aren’t looking to avoid work, they’re looking to avoid the resurgence of pain that they’ve already experienced.

People keep whining about this being a special snowflake generation, but any time anybody asks for attention, any time anybody says “Can i get some help?” they get smacked back down again by somebody saying “The world is cruel, deal with it.”

And the world IS cruel. There is rape, there is violence, there is pain. People who ask for trigger warnings where there are none are used to dealing with that cruelty. They are used to being ignored, they are used to being mocked, and they are used to dealing with their trauma day in and day out. They are used to the absence of trigger warnings. You shouldn’t have pride in your denial to make accommodations for them. You shouldn’t puff your chest out while you declare the absence of safe spaces. You shouldn’t say “The world is cruel, deal with it,” because they are dealing with it. Every day they are dealing with it.

The world is cruel, but you don’t have to be.