If Trigger Warnings aren’t Contained Soon Enough Everything will Need a Trigger Warning

As a UT student, it is easy to see that many students make up a very diverse academic student body that has many different political, religious, ethnic and social differences, which makes it hard today to have any discussions in the classroom that may set off a very inflamed situation that could lead to violence or a relapse of a traumatizing situation (Bryon). We need to be mindful of those who have PTSD in the classroom, yet still take into consideration those who are just being childish when it comes to sensitive topics. There isn’t a possible way for a professor to make sure that in the classroom the PTSD students’ needs are still being met without babying the childlike students. Trigger warnings should be kept out of the classroom, but they should not be abolished because of those students who could be seriously affected without them; instead, they should be used in a more efficient way by having a pop up when we are registering for classes.

What are professors supposed to do when so many topics offend so many people? Should they not discuss anything in classes anymore in fear of the outcome (Comella)? When fear takes over nobody wins. It’s unfortunate that our professors do not have the time to personally get to know each and every one of us and meet our needs. So how do we have discussions without offending people? Some may say that we should have professors list topics and have the student body vote for what should be discussed as a way of getting the class census on topics that will not offend the majority, which would work but it still leaves holes for some students to slip into, causing those students to get overlooked that may still get offended or triggered by the subject and could still turn out to be a dangerous situation. Thus forth, we need to have trigger warnings as a pop up for when students sign up for classes so that they know what will be discussed and then they can decide whether or not they want to proceed with taking that course. Also, that way if a student does see something that could possibly trigger their PTSD, then they could email the professor before committing to the course and ask how in-depth will that certain subject go or if the professor would be willing to make an exception for that student. Then if the professor gets a lot of emails from students that are negatively affected by a certain topic, then the professor may perhaps change it up. In order for any of that to happen we need to speak up.

It’s always important to remember those who have PTSD when discussing something that may be sensitizing to them. On the other hand, there are a lot of students who are acting childish when it comes to trigger warnings. They are the ones that want trigger warnings because a topic my upset them or make them feel uncomfortable, not because it is going to traumatize them or bring back bad memories. Those are the students that are simply “putting their fingers in their ears” to avoid anything they don’t want to hear (Lythcott-Haims). Those students are just aiding to the already over sensitized generation. It’s unfair to get rid of trigger warnings entirely just to get rid of the crybabies when we have fellow students on campus who do have serious issues and need to be aware of certain topics or assignments that will be discussed or assigned during class. It is important that the classroom is a safe environment for all (Morris).

As a student body, we owe it to each other to be mindful of what we say to make sure that everyone’s feelings and views are taken into consideration to keep from offending someone or affecting their PTSD. Students that suffer from PTSD should have the same opportunity to excel like we do without worrying something traumatizing is going to pop up in a class discussion and take them off guard. The take home message is this, when it comes to trigger warnings, they should be kept out of the classroom but still used in a more efficient way like a pop up when registering for classes, but the even bigger picture to this is how important it is to speak up and voice your opinion and exercise your freedom of speech rights (Volokh). No matter what grade you are in, how old you are, or what your major is, your opinion is valued and if you see something that you think needs to be changed that speak up. I spoke out, gave my opinion and played my role in contributing to make UT a better campus, now I encourage you to do the same. We are vols and together we can make UT feel like a safe environment that is welcoming to all.

Works Cited

Byron, Katie. “Millennials are Creating a More Inclusive and Just World.” The New York Times, Room for Debate. 21 December 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/11/02/when-a-generation-becomes-less-tolerant-of-free-speech/millennials-are-creating-a-more-inclusive-and-just-world.

Comella, Lynn. “TRIGGER WARNINGS SHOULD NOT BE USED IN COLLEGE CLASSROOMS.” Academic Search Researcher, Bitch Magazine: Feminist Response to Pop Culture. 2016, http://web.a.ebscohost.com.proxy.lib.utk.edu:90/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=6f16e328-3df7-4954-9a91-b60b774f0b65%40sessionmgr4008&vid=6&hid=4209.

Lythcott-Haims, Julie. “Millennials Will Soon Define ‘America,’ and That’s a Problem for Ideas.” The New York Times, Room for Debate. 21 December 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/11/02/when-a-generation-becomes-less-tolerant-of-free-speech/millennials-will-soon-define-america-and-thats-a-problem-for-ideas.

Morris, Libby. “Editors Page: Trigger Warnings.” Academic Search Researcher, Innovative Higher Education.29 August 2015, http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=af1ab0c6-adb3-46f4-a3e1-e1a21938980e%40sessionmgr4007&vid=10&hid=4214.

Volokh, Eugene. “The Importance of Protecting Even the Thoughts We Hate.”  The New York Times, Room for Debate. 02 May 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/11/02/when-a-generation-becomes-less-tolerant-of-free-speech/the-importance-of-protecting-even-the-thoughts-we-hate.











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