Opinions on: Trigger Warnings on University Syllabi

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http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/20/opinio...are/?c=&page=1

Considering that movies and television have a warning scale for violence, adult themes, sexual situations and rape I can't say I have a problem with the idea in general. It's nothing new. Granted, this system is for deeming content age appropriate, and not emotionally appropriate. However, when it comes to education, I can see the list of potential problems some worry about. I have read stories about people pushing for Trigger Warnings on High School and College learning material. Nothing has been mandatory so far, strictly optional. In turn, some have then pushed for the material to be removed. Others have pushed for the learning objectives to be optional so no one is traumatized by a story. And at one college, a few students pushed for a statue of a sleep walking male student, in his underwear, to be moved inside because it was ominous to some. The list of odd and extra requests inside and outside of the educational material keeps growing due to claims of PTSD. I know there are traumatic situations outside of war that can cause different stress and anxiety disorders in some, but I also feel the more frivolous claims of PTSD belittles and lessons the situation for others who have been through a trauma. There is also the question of resulting censorship of words and images, the fact that some who have been through trauma use exposure therapy (which is only a problem if material is banned), and the concerns that some have over a potential set up for mass lawsuits.

What are your thoughts & feelings?
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??


Last edited by Fifi.G; 05-26-2014 at 05:35 AM.
http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/20/opinio...are/?c=&page=1

Considering that movies and television have a warning scale for violence, adult themes, sexual situations and rape I can't say I have a problem with the idea in general. It's nothing new. Granted, this system is for deeming content age appropriate, and not emotionally appropriate. However, when it comes to education, I can see the list of potential problems some worry about. I have read stories about people pushing for Trigger Warnings on High School and College learning material. Nothing has been mandatory so far, strictly optional. In turn, some have then pushed for the material to be removed. Others have pushed for the learning objectives to be optional so no one is traumatized by a story. And at one college, a few students pushed for a statue of a sleep walking male student, in his underwear, to be moved inside because it was ominous to some. The list of odd and extra requests inside and outside of the educational material keeps growing due to claims of PTSD. I know there are traumatic situations outside of war that can cause different stress and anxiety disorders in some, but I also feel the more frivolous claims of PTSD belittles and lessons the situation for others who have been through a trauma. There is also the question of resulting censorship of words and images, the fact that some who have been through trauma use exposure therapy (which is only a problem if material is banned), and the concerns that some have over a potential set up for mass lawsuits.

What are your thoughts & feelings?
Originally Posted by Fifi.G
I agree that this could basically result in a slippery slope. My degree is in sociology, and our first year special topics course was on colonialism genocide and terrorism in the twentieth century. From my perspective, if people have had to live through horrific circumstances, I should at least be able to learn about them. A policy of allowing discomfort to dictate the contents of a curriculum could result in a serious lack of knowledge about what really goes on in the world, which would be problematic for anyone claiming to be well educated.
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Well said. That was another common concern that I came across. It does have the potential to become limiting.
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

I do see more of a push or immediate reaction based on images now. No back story necessary. Like the situation with the statue. It makes someone feel ... therefore it is. Art is supposed to make you feel something, and it is not always supposed to be warm and fuzzy, but your feelings alone do not define it. Your idea can be the complete opposite of the creators.
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When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

^ One little expansion on that. It is simply the statue of a man titled "Sleepwalker". It's a landscape piece intended to show someone who is lost, out of place and asleep at wheel in life. Bronze Zombie in his skivvies.

Opinions on: Trigger Warnings on University Syllabi-imageuploadedbycurltalk1401108067.671882.jpg

http://www.boston.com/yourcampus/new...ng_statue.html

*and it was vandalized on the 22nd.*
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??


Last edited by Fifi.G; 05-26-2014 at 07:24 AM.
I need to get my thoughts together on this one, and will post a more detailed reply later, but I'm generally opposed to the idea of trigger warnings.

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Yes, there's the art as activism versus art for art's sake debate. It seems as though the mainstream concept of art is basically something pretty to look at. This doesn't account for all the ways an image can challenge people, startling them out of their comfort zone. People have been opposed to this sort of challenge for centuries, it's nothing new, but wanting to get rid of something because you don't understand it seems like the very definition of ignorance, in a setting where ignorance should not be well tolerated.
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I need to get my thoughts together on this one, and will post a more detailed reply later, but I'm generally opposed to the idea of trigger warnings.
Originally Posted by Corrina777
I know what you mean
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

Yes, there's the art as activism versus art for art's sake debate. It seems as though the mainstream concept of art is basically something pretty to look at. This doesn't account for all the ways an image can challenge people, startling them out of their comfort zone. People have been opposed to this sort of challenge for centuries, it's nothing new, but wanting to get rid of something because you don't understand it seems like the very definition of ignorance, in a setting where ignorance should not be well tolerated.
Originally Posted by SereneCurls
It does, and I am glad the University did not budge. From what I could gather, several articles on it seem to lack information on the number of people who actually liked the piece. It is a greater number than those who opposed, but they started a petition and voiced concerns about triggers, and the statue being a constant reminder of male privilege. Apparently some also found the sight of children playing around the statue to be deeply unsettling. The rest dressed him up and shared pic's on Instagram. Several media sources said the opposition wanted the piece removed. A few did but most wanted it moved inside because they found him creepy. They said that would not hinder artistic expression. They did not seem to understand that moving the statue would change the aesthetic and intent. It was placed there, by the artist and museum on campus, for a reason. It is located in perfect view from the museum, window while viewing his other work. It is a really good discussion piece.
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??


Last edited by Fifi.G; 05-26-2014 at 11:42 AM.
I don't patently object to this but the article said:

The biggest problem here emerges from the nature of trauma. Triggers are extremely personal and, from the outside, unpredictable. Professors cannot review their course material and know, with any certainty, what might or might not function as a trigger for their students.

So I think it would be hard to identify all the course content that could potentially be a trigger for someone. Course catalogs always contain a brief description of the material that will be taught. And students with these kinds of emotional issues can also ask their instructors for more detail on the material so they can decide if it would be too much for them.
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Last edited by spiderlashes5000; 05-27-2014 at 01:01 PM.
I don't patently object to this but the article said:

The biggest problem here emerges from the nature of trauma. Triggers are extremely personal and, from the outside, unpredictable. Professors cannot review their course material and know, with any certainty, what might or might not function as a trigger for their students.

So I think it would be hard to identify all the course content that could potentially be a trigger for someone. Course catalogs always contain a brief description of the material that will be taught. And students with these kids of emotional issues can also ask their instructors for more detail on the material.
Originally Posted by spiderlashes5000
I agree
I also think that part of healing requires you to manage your own triggers and make a plan to deal with them (which sounds harsh, but I do not mean it that way - I say this from first hand experience). The larger issue is when people aren't aware of their triggers or aren't far enough along in their healing to recognize what's going on.

All of that said, I was in my late 20s/early 30s before I started understanding my triggers, and I managed to make it through college (and life) without warnings (I was dx with "PTSD with re-occuring major depressive episodes" in my late 20s due to stuff that happened when I was a kid)

eta: I'm not sure if the label lasts forever or not, but I no longer suffer from the extreme symptoms - the flashbacks, dissociation, etc - I've learned to manage a lot of that kind of stuff (years and years of work! )
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Spider, I agree as well. It would be incredibly hard. Most 'isms' are requested under trigger warnings along with suicide, murder, death in general, phobias of bugs, clowns, balloons, etc. Anything one can think of. Some have been through a trauma, some have read about one, some experienced the loss of a friend or family, and some simply don't want to hear it. In most articles I read teachers stated that students have came up to them with different trigger warning requests, after lessons, for several years. 'My Aunt died last week, I wish a trigger warning about death would have been included before this lesson.'

Perri, I agree with you 100% and do not think you sound harsh. I have had my issues to face in life, and I did it all without a warning. Life does not give you a warning. You have to learn how to overcome adversities and deal with your emotions and I truly wish people would stop accommodating hiding your head under the covers. It does no one any favors. It just teaches people to stop, stay in neutral, and crumble as opposed to standing up straight and going forward. Even if it is a incredibly slow pace.
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When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

I seem to see several people asking for stuff to be banned, removed, and have warnings placed on it for others who MAY have been victimized or traumatized and MIGHT have a bad reaction. I do not doubt that several of them come from a good place but "it may hurt someones feelings" is no real excuse. Not in a context like this. Not in the context of life. You can not control everything. Let that person speak for themselves. I can't image someone doing that when I was growing up. I can't imagine where I would be or what I would be like of someone wanted warnings on everything and requested it be optional. Would I have made any progress? Could I even remotely do the job I do now? No trigger warnings in sight.
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When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

It reminds me of how all fragrances get banned in an office bc someone has an intolerance to certain kinds. At what point should the individual bear responsibility for his/her own issue and when does it become a community issue?
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Trigger warnings are supposed to be for things that are likely to "trigger" a ptsd response, like flashbacks and panic attacks. Having warnings for this stuff is a Good Idea.

However, the notion of trigger warnings has been diluted into frivolous bs thanks to immature idiots on the internet. People talk about being "triggered" when all they mean is that they felt mildly offended or uncomfortable.

This is the version of trigger warnings that's being instituted at universities. And it's being pushed by students who have no idea what they're talking about. They're not survivors or victim's advocates. They're just haphazardly guessing at what needs a warning, and the results are ridiculous and trivialize the real issues.
It reminds me of how all fragrances get banned in an office bc someone has an intolerance to certain kinds. At what point should the individual bear responsibility for his/her own issue and when does it become a community issue?
Originally Posted by spiderlashes5000
The attempt to make some things a community or global issue seems to happen right off the bat. A few people talk, start petitions online and go to the media over a privileged statue in a supposed safe space and it becomes a National News Story. It's in your face, 24-7. Someone doesn't like phallic symbols on a CD cover (a tree for example), deems it sexist and it is news. They want trigger warnings for sexism.
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

This is the version of trigger warnings that's being instituted at universities. And it's being pushed by students who have no idea what they're talking about. They're not survivors or victim's advocates. They're just haphazardly guessing at what needs a warning, and the results are ridiculous and trivialize the real issues.
Originally Posted by Eilonwy

Your last sentence is what irritates me the most. I firmly believe it trivializes the real issues into nothingness.

ETA: People obviously do not stop to think. You have reduced a horrible experience to book worms (pun intended), make a huge deal out of anything that slightly offends you or maybe slightly offends someone you know, demand explanations and apologies, call for things to be changed or banned and you do not expect this to happen to you? I hate it for them if they ever manage to stop being eternally traumatized by a paragraph long enough to create something. Meanwhile, people who have been through some horrific events do not expect a fraction of this and manage to carry on with much more of their dignity in tact.
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??


Last edited by Fifi.G; 05-27-2014 at 02:33 PM.
Sincere question that is on topic in a particular way... you know what i mean.

I came across some comments on the Sleepwalker situation. Several women (in women's studies) at the college were saying the statue was, quite literally, sexual assault. I can not help getting very frustrated when I hear things like that. I know several women featured in WS are of the radical persuasion and they have very different definitions of violent sexual assault. Take Liz Kelly the author of Surviving Sexual Violence. She defines it as such in her book (and I did triple check to make sure it was not misquoted, though I wish it was):

"Sexual violence includes any physical, visual, verbal or sexual act that is experienced by the woman or girl, at the time or later, as a threat, invasion or assault that has the effect of hurting her or degrading her and/or taken away her ability to control intimate contact"

Is this real? Is this a part of the problem? *I already know my answer. As someone who has woken up after being knocked out with force, felt what was done to my body, and seen the blood... damn skippy this is a problem. **Apparently, definitions like this have also been used to document instances of rape on college campuses and sky rocketed the numbers up to 80 some % of women have been victims of sexual violence/assault. A large majority reported were verbal or visual offenses. That does nothing but confuse and cover up the actual, physical, rape cases. This woman is or was a professor of women's studies in the UK. I have came across several definitions like this in women's studies classes. Something visual that might offend you later?
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??


Last edited by Fifi.G; 05-27-2014 at 06:01 PM.
I am glad this was not offered at my school. I would have never made it. Nooooo. Eye rape, now or later? *I am not trying to be funny. I promise but I have to say I have heard of the "Feminist Lens" and I think it is highly misused in this case.
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??


Last edited by Fifi.G; 05-27-2014 at 05:38 PM.
It reminds me of how all fragrances get banned in an office bc someone has an intolerance to certain kinds. At what point should the individual bear responsibility for his/her own issue and when does it become a community issue?
Originally Posted by spiderlashes5000
So you regard someone having an anaphylactic episode or an asthmatic attack which can physically kill them, the same as someone having an anxiety/panic attack, which they say feels like they are dying?

Both actually become community issues for different reasons unless you aren't bothered about seeing someone possibly dying in front of you, or someone in severe distress in front of you.

With the latter the person will have to learn coping mechanisms for their triggers as avoidance doesn't work forever, but with anaphylaxis/asthma this isn't really possible.
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