Trigger Warnings Trigger Better Classrooms

Trigger warnings are a constant battle between good and evil. Universities all over the nation agree to disagree that trigger warnings are useful or too soft for college students. A lot of professors will argue that their students should be grown up enough to handle touchy subjects, but they are only considering themselves. What if the girl in the back row has recently been sexually assaulted, and the professor starts referencing a similar situation? The trigger warning is not about whether or not a student is too sensitive. It is about being a person with morals and respecting those who have had horrible things happen to them. There is a difference between a student being whiny and a student who has suffered something the rest of us hope to never suffer.


There is a difference between the student who hates Trump and can not talk about politics and the student that can not talk about war due to post traumatic stress disorder, whos reaction to the subject “can be intense and unpleasant, and may even overtake our consciousness, as with a flashback with a war veteran.” (Manne). Not only do trigger warnings protect severe flashbacks from victims of post traumatic stress disorder and assault, but it also protects the professor’s class from being disrupted. Post traumatic stress disorder is said to have “cognition and mood symptoms that can begin or worsen after the traumatic event.” (National Institute of Mental Health). Why would a decent human want to cause a recollection of horrid memories to an innocent student who has fought for our country, and seen things we could never imagine seeing outside of the movie theatre.

trigger-warningSuppose that girl in the back row now has her head down. She is trying so hard to tune you, the professor, out. Suddenly, she bursts into tears and runs out of the classroom. Not only have horrible memories been brought back to her, but the classroom is now disrupted. All focus has left the room with the crying girl from the back row. Professors can keep their classroom in order if they “provide a warning if they were teaching material that could cause flashbacks in students who had been sexually assaulted or suffered other trauma.” (Glazer). A former student who has experienced this herself, Leah Block, describes her pain and agony when her professor was talking about suicide: “I had to deal with two levels of pain. I had to relive my own struggle with suicidal thoughts, and I had to suffer the discomfort of hearing other people explain away my problems as if they had authority over my emotions.” (Block).


Although “most abnormal psychology instructors do not view trigger warnings as essential to the teaching of sensitive topics” (Boysen), trigger warnings are so much more useful than professors think. Classroom disruptions would be halted, teaching disruptions would disappear. If only professors would put it in the syllabus that sensitive topics would be discussed in class, and the student had the option to leave if the conversation became too intense. This would prepare the student, and avoid future conflicts with the professor and the learning environment. Trigger warnings not only help the student that may be suffering from PTSD, sexual assault, or other traumas, but it also helps the professor avoid a dramatic mess in the classroom. The franticness of a student who is having unwelcomed intrusive thoughts of a horrific past event would easily distract the classroom. Some people may not consider the idea of war, sexual assault, or other traumatic events to be sensitive subjects, but those who have lived it would beg to differ. Having dealt with it versus assuming what it would be like completely different. Students would not feel targeted and after all, “a debater wouldn’t punch a broken arm, and the mental or emotional equivalent should not be treated differently.” (Block).

Works Cited:

Boysen, Guy A. “Instructor’s Use of Trigger Warnings and Behavior Warnings in Abnormal

Psychology.” Sage Journals. Teaching of Psychology, 16 Aug. 2016. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.

Block, Leah. “In Favor of Trigger Warnings in College Debate.” The Chronicle of Higher

Education. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 04 Mar. 2016. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.

Glazer, Sarah. “Free Speech on Campus.” CQ Researcher by CQ Press. An Imprint of SAGE

Publishing, 8 May 2015. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.

Manne, Kate. “Why I Use Trigger Warnings.” The New York Times. The New York Times

Company, 20 Sept. 2015. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.

National Institute for Mental Health


One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Triggered

I am a University of Tennessee student who enjoys the simple things in life. I enjoy my drinks cold, my ped walkway free from harassers, and my speech free from trigger warnings. As students, our free speech is vitally important and without it we would be oblivious. We would never know if fraternities were hosting some average rapper because they would not be able to blast rap music in presidential court. We would never know who was upset about the election because they would not be allowed to hold demonstrations. And most importantly we would never know we were all damned to hell by 50-year-old men in Walmart khakis because they would be at home eating left over Stouffer’s lasagna from the week before. While these are silly examples they are absolutely necessary to the fabric of our campus.

A trigger warning is when a professor explains that there is going to be things in the curriculum that may offend some people. “NPR Ed recently reported on their survey of more than 800 faculty members at universities around the country…  about half of the professors said they’ve used a trigger warning before introducing difficult material, and most said they did so by choice, not policy or student request” (Smith). Trigger warnings are becoming more and more prevalent among professors across the country, but some see this as a risk. “Trigger warnings suggest that classrooms should offer protection and comfort rather than an intellectually challenging education. They reduce students to vulnerable victims rather than full participants in the intellectual process of education.” (Graham).safety-300x225

Many Universities are seeing the threat that trigger warnings bring to their campus. “The University of Chicago sent a welcome letter to incoming freshmen, posted online Wednesday, where they made it abundantly clear that they do not support ‘trigger warnings’ or ‘safe spaces’ in classes or on campus” (Holmes). University courses are meant to challenge and push students out of their comfort zones to ensure that they are prepared for the world outside of the college. The Universities would be doing their students a disservice to coddle them and take away their ability to have candid thoughts about provoking matters.

The Rock is quite possibly the epitome of free speech on our campus. The Rock has no trigger warning, the only thing that you can expect is that it will have a different image or message every time you see it. Messages that have been painted on The Rock ranged from Jimmy Cheek’s resignation to marriage proposals. There have also been countless male body parts spray painted on there and many “F&%k Lane Kiffin” messages. While not everything on The Rock is worthy of our time to look it, it is important that we have something like it on campus that allows us to express our ideas openly and freely. “What is to become… if our young can no longer go to college and be challenged by the free exchange of ideas?” (Lythcott-Haims). Lythcott-Haims presents an important question for us, but as students at Tennessee we can look to The Rock as the answer. It gives a voice to the students, it allows for a free exchange of ideas, and it is a platform for all to see.


635732917132348794-1835163231_6497664A person’s ability to think candidly is necessary to how they react to the situation they are in. It shapes how they deal with grief, good news, excitement, and countless other emotions. The things that make us feel these emotions may not necessarily be good, but they help shape us into the people we are today. Now imagine if we were stripped of our ability to think candidly. We get this trigger warning:

****Josh Dobbs will throw a last second hail mary to beat Georgia****

This warning completely strips away the ecstasy the viewer will have in that moment. Now another warning:

****Josh Dobbs will throw an interception to end the Tennessee vs. Texas A&M game****

This warning will cause the viewer to expect the outcome so they will not feel as much sadness when it actually happens. These times of ecstasy and sadness are to be experienced with your fellow students. When the good happens, we celebrate, and when the bad happens we come together as a student body. “A campus culture devoted to policing speech and punishing speakers is likely to engender patterns of thought” (Haidt). Our ability to think candidly when we are caught off-guard is healthy, and trigger warnings will take that away.

The University of Tennessee is a great place without trigger warnings and adding them might take away some of the things we love and cherish. The purpose of a university is to fully equip a student with all the tools necessary to be successful in the real world. When we don’t expose students to candid thoughts we are coddling them to be comfortable. The Rock, holding demonstrations, and playing loud rap music on campus will all be in jeopardy if we include trigger warnings on our campus.



Works cited

Graham, Edward. “On Trigger Warnings.” American Association of University Professors, Academic Freedom and Tenure Investigative Reports. August 2014,

Haidt, Jonathan. “The Coddling of the American Mind”. The Atlantic. September, 2015.

Holmes, Lindsay. “A Quick Lesson On What Trigger Warnings Actually Do.” The Huffington Post. 26 August, 2016.

Lythcott-Haims, Julie. “Millennials Will Soon ‘Define’ America and That’s a Problem for     Ideas.” The New York Times, Room for Debate, 21 Dec, 2015.         tolerant-of-free-speech/millennials-will-soon-define-america-and-thats-a-problem-for-             ideas

Smith, Iman. “Content Notice: Here Are A Few Ways Professors Use Trigger Warnings.” NPR. 21 September, 2016.

What’s the point in making people uncomfortable?


             “We are all wearing masks. That is what makes us interesting” – Neil Gaimanmtm2njq0odcwnjy1mtuymdk3      You might be surprised by the number of students that are victims of a violent crime. “Almost one of every three all rape victims develop PTSD sometime during their lives “according to a Women’s Study that is on the U.S Department of Veterans Affair.  Having a trigger warning when talking about sensitive subjects could at least give a warning for what is to come without blind sighting the person. Many people think that having trigger warnings is unnecessary and that everyone just needs to learn to stop being so sensitive. Being a student myself, I am not saying that there should be a warning on everything because yes,  having a trigger warning on everything would be ridiculous but there is a line between a regular topic and a topic that is going to make people uncomfortable.

       Suicide, the 11th leading cause of death in the U. S, may come up in an academic setting. To some people that do not care about it, will talk freely about it regardless if it has affected them or not. A trigger warning can make everyone aware that it might affect someone in the room and to be cautious of what is said. I have firsthand knowledge on a topic such as this due to someone that I knew.  If I was in a classroom, I wouldn’t want the warning so that I could mentally prepare myself or ask to be dismissed from class. I would want the warning so that other people in the room would be aware of who this conversation may affect.  I don’t want to be around the people who aren’t knowledgeable in the topic and running their mouth and offending / bad mouthing something that they don’t know. Leah Block knows about this on a personal level when she had to deal with people unknowingly talk about her experiences.

       “I had to relive my own struggle with suicidal thoughts, and I had to suffer the discomfort of  hearing other people explain away my problems as if they had to suffer the discomfort of hearing other people explain away my problems as if they had authority over my emotions.” (Block).

       People don’t realize or understand what it’s like to be in a position like that. Even I don’t know how it feels but at least I can try to help by wanting trigger warnings so something like that doesn’t happen.  What is so harmful about a professor putting in the syllabus and saying in the class before “We will be talking about the sensitive subject of (uncomfortable topic), email me with questions or comments”. No harm no foul and it would allow students to cope with the material instead of it being sprung on them.

     golinejad20120718094210077People who believe that this bombard on free speech is going to suppress the ideas of the young minds who want to openly debate but that isn’t the case. A warning isn’t stopping something from happening or stopping a debate to be discussed, a warning is to WARN what is about to happen or be discussed. “The National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (2015) indicates that more than 60 percent of children from birth to 17 years’ experience victimization and that 38 percent witness violence sometime during childhood.” (Sturgis). A trigger warning is to avoid triggering someone’s past and it only seems right to warn those with a traumatic past so those memories aren’t all flooding in all at once.  

              Aaron R. Hanlon, a professor who wrote “My Students Need Trigger Warnings – and Professors Do, too”, discussed his own dealings in teaching and why he uses trigger warnings. “But so long as we’re happy to evangelize about the truly disruptive and real life- changing possibilities of our subject matter, we also need to be prepared to teach that difficult and sometimes disorienting material responsibly and attentively, not just to cast out barbs of hardcore human expression while we watch our students puzzle and weep.” (Hanlon) Here is a professor who gets it. Why do we have to make it difficult for people when ALL YOU HAVE TO DO is put a small WARNING blurb in the syllabus.. “ Requests for safe spaces or trigger warnings are not about hiding from ideas but about finding ways to engage without disturbing the people most directly effected.” ( Byron). No one wants to walk into the classroom and hear “Morning class! Today’s topic will be about Rape and sexual violence. Let’s get started!”trigger-warning A survivor of this would be in so much shock that they could possibly go into a panic attack. “One in six students has been diagnosed with anxiety, surpassing cases of depression, according to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health” (Sturgis). Panic attacks can be avoided.

         Having an uncomfortable conversation and speaking your mind without knowing that someone in the room could have gone though that traumatic event can be avoided with just a few simple words of warning. I realize that some may think that trigger warnings are weakening the minds of society but if one thinks about the research that has been done with all the people in the world that has been affected with certain sensitive subjects, how is it supposedly weakening the minds? It is to help warn people about the topic. It isn’t there to stop the subject topic or make it a get out of jail free card just as an excuse. Why should we make people feel  uncomfortable? There is no point.



Works cited

Block, Leah. “ In Favor of Trigger Warnings in College Debate.” Chronicle of Higher  Education, Vol. 62 no. 25. 4. Mar. 2016

Byron, Katie. “Millennials Are Creating a More Inclusive and Just World.” The New York Times, Room for Debate. 21, Dec. 2015

Hanlon, Aaron R. “ My Students Need Trigger Warnings – and Professors Do, Too.” New Republic. 17, May. 2015

Sturgis, Ingrid. “ Warning: This Lesson May Upset You.” Chronicle of Higher Education. 18, Mar. 2016

  “PTSD: National Center for PTSD.” Sexual Assault Against Females – PTSD: National Center for PTSD. U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.              



Making a Difference with Trigger Warnings

trigger-warningHello Vol Nation and anyone else who may be reading this.  Today we are oppressed with a question for most colleges; what effects are trigger warnings leaving within the student body of college campuses, and are they helpful?  We, as a student body, need to come together and ask that professors be encouraged to use trigger warnings in a classroom setting more frequently for the safety of students that have been victimized and have horrible pasts.  Greg Piper writes an article speaking of some universities enforcing trigger warnings.  He says that Drexel University in Philadelphia once told the press “it is expected that instructors will offer appropriate warning and accommodation regarding the introduction of explicit and triggering materials used” (Piper). I do not feel as though trigger warnings should be enforced within every classroom debate, as some colleges enforce them.  Trigger warnings will help colleges in many ways, helping the ones affected by rape and other harmful things aware of what is yet to come.

Imagine if a teacher of a human sexuality class sent out an e-mail explaining that the next class meeting would be over sexual assault and rape.  This would give a victim a heads up in making the decision of whether or not to come to that particular class if he or she were truly emotional about the subject.  Guy Boysen shows us how some professors feel about trigger warnings when he says “trigger warnings are problematic because they reduce academic freedom, have a chilling effect on the coverage of difficult topics, infantilize students, and portray the classroom as a place where students should not be challenged” (Boysen).  Here at UT we have a very respectable staff that would do anything they could for students.  Our professors want the absolute best for our futures and want to make us stronger individuals.  I feel as though most professors who truly want the best for their students would be accepting of trigger warnings and would use them frequently when sensitive material would arrive in their context.  Here is a short five minute video explaining why trigger warnings are useful and important in college classrooms and when they should be used (Trigger Warnings, Campus Speech, and the Right to Not Be Offended).

We are totally unaware of who may be affected by something that may seem minor to us.  Our peers have gone through very sensitive times that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.  My mother told me of a story that happened while she was attending anthropology classes in the late 1980’s here at the University of Tennessee.  She told me how once a class taught under Dr. Bass was showing slides of a fireworks factory which had exploded.  Everyone inside the building was killed, and body parts were hanging from trees and strewn all around.  A girl ran out of the classroom crying, as this was part of her family’s business, and she had no prior knowledge of what she was about to see.  From then on, after this happening, anthropology classes have forewarned and given trigger warnings to make sure the students know what they may be seeing.  It is encouraging to see that a major class setting here at our university already uses trigger warnings and is concerned for the betterment of students.

Julie Lythcott-Haims is a dean at the well known Stanford University, and she wrote an article on a blogspot for The New York Times.  This picture relates closely as to how Lythcott Haims views Trigger warnings in America.


Her views on trigger warnings are quite the opposite of having trigger warnings in classrooms.  She feels as though students need to be submerged in sensitive material and not feel offended, which I agree with to a point.   I feel as though Lythcott-Haims truly wants the best for her students.  When talking about trigger warnings she says “I think it’s fine if the purpose is to steel a person for an upsetting conversation, but not when it’s used to insulate a person from having to contend with upsetting material at all” (Lythcott-Haims).  While she makes a valid point within the classroom setting, I feel as though the victim of the sensitive material should be able to do an alternative assignment or at least not have to hear about the upsetting material which may bring back old memories.  Another author who writes on The New York Times blogspot is Katie Byron.  She makes clear points as to why trigger warnings should be used and shows positive emotion about trigger warnings.  She says “safer learning environments ensure that students who have experienced violence are able to contribute without putting their experiences up for debate” (Byron).  This shows us that victims of violence are ensured to have a comfortable classroom setting.
Trigger warnings allow those with emotional pasts to not be hurt even more than they already have been, especially since we may not truly realize what they are feeling.  On The Huffington Post website, Lindsay Holmes broadly expresses her view on trigger warnings within college campuses.  She says “trigger warnings are potentially lifesaving for people who have dealt with traumas like sexual assault, hate crimes or violence. Eliminating these advisories and zones on campus suggests that someone should have to listen to someone who questions their humanity or experience” (Holmes).  Holmes represents the true meaning of trigger warnings perfectly here, showing her audience that they may not truly understand what a colleague may have gone through in the past.

In conclusion, trigger warnings are there for us to help those who are hurting and allow them to heal.  Trigger warnings allow those with sensitive pasts to heal.  It is up to us to help our peers in their time of healing and get our school to encourage our professors to use trigger warnings more often.  College is a place where we can come together and persevere, helping victims and treating them with most the utmost respect.  Some may view trigger warnings as being detrimental to class time and learning, but in the end trigger warnings create a more healthy learning environment for those who have had eventful pasts.

Works Cited

Boysen, Guy.  “Instructors’ Use of Trigger Warnings and Behavior Warnings in Abnormal Psychology.”  Teaching of Psychology, vol. 43 no. 4, 2016, pp.334-339. 10.1177/0098628316662766

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

Holmes, Lindsay.  “A Quick Lesson On What Trigger Warnings Actually Do.”  The Huffington Post, 26 August 2016, trigger-warning_us_57bf16d9e4b085c1ff28176d.

Image. “Atlantic Baby.” atlantic-baby-2,

Image. “Warning, Trigger Warning, Explicit Content .” trigger warning,

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

Piper, Greg.  “Several colleges require faculty to use trigger warnings – just not explicitly.” The College Fix, 31 August 2016,

ReasonTv. “Trigger Warnings, Campus Speech, and the Right to Not Be Offended.” YouTube, 8 May 2014,

Political Echo Chambers for Dummies


Political Echo chambers are collections of ideas that are interconnected and do not allow opposing ideas to enter. They are bubbles that allow an individual to have illogical or irrational beliefs because they are surrounded by other individuals who subscribe to the same material.

Why does a college kid at UTK care about political echo chambers?

Everyone is affected by political echo chambers. The political process has been taken by the extremists of both parties. Social justice warriors who want to save the world by choking it and the alt right who have ideals that we knew were wrong since the 1800s. If anyone from UTK wants to change the world in any way, then first they must understand the world around them. With the internet, everyone who agrees on an ideal can virtually meet up and discuss it amongst themselves. Ideals that were a minority in their physical environment can now be a majority when they attack or post propaganda in their new virtual environment. This is an example of culturally terraforming society by forcing people to become more radical in their political views (PewResearchCenter).


I was introduced to the idea of culturally terraforming by Byran Stascavage. This is an idea that people will take their echo chambers and force it onto people around them, whether it be virtual or physical. Small activist groups can easily force the majority to adopt their beliefs because of social punishments and being seen as unintelligent if you do not conform. According to the PewResearchCenter, animosity between republicans and democrats has almost doubled since 1994. Both sides carry an agenda under the preconception that if the other side wins then America will crumble. This is fueled by passion of politics. The radical ideologists are going to be the ones who are most active in all of the political steps. This misrepresents what the majority actually believe (PewResearchCenter).

If both parties view the other as incompetent, healthy debate is impossible. In 1994 a majority of republicans and democrats found the other party unfavorable. Only 17% had very unfavorable opinions of democrats and only 16% of democrats had very unfavorable views of republicans. Since then 43% of republicans and 38% of democrats now view the opposite party in strongly negative terms (PewResearchCenter). The research center shows that polarization has taken place in democrats and republicans by forming radical cookie cutter belief systems through media.


Homophily is the term of the tendency to subscribe to a certain political echo chamber (Willer). It is common sense that people want to associate with ideas or people that are similar to them (McPherson). According to the journal of the medical library association people have always been actively searching for information based on what they know but there also people who actively avoid information that opposes what they believe. The journal states that avoidance of knowledge can be dangerous when dealing with a disease which means that if someone avoids information because it is opposite to their views then it could cause them to be misinformed.


The phenomena that is Donald Trump was elected because people got tired of political echo chambers of the far left and social justice warriors. Many people believe that the politically correct movement caused people to choose someone who would shake things up rather have another 4 years of the same boring agenda. I personally believe that Trump won because of the disenfranchised group of white people who felt like they were being attacked because of class guilt. When everyone around you says that every minority group’s problems stem from white people, which may be true, but does not mean that John sitting in homeroom had anything to do with the genocide of Native Americans.

There are people who believe that the end of the world is coming because of this election. This is a clear indication of someone being subject to an echo chamber. Everyone has faults and their own way of getting things done. What happened is that a group of people realized that if I tell someone they are morally or socially in the wrong then I gain social capital. People see this and realize they are “white knights” and protecting the marginalized while maintaining the social image that they are these Jesus-like people. Since this is a group, it reinforces the “like us” attitude and creates an us versus them mentality. This idea has turned aggressive and began “purifying” their environment.

So why should you care…?

Protests happen right here on campus and many people do not understand what all the fuss is about. To begin to understand why so many people are crying and falling down because of Trump being elected, one would have to understand the information they have in their head. Humans make the best decision based on all of the information they have. If someone does not have all of the information or is filled with false information they cannot make the best decision. If someone told you everyday a new reason why Kobe Bryant was better than Michael Jordan, after a certain amount of time you may start to believe that Kobe was actually better. Confirmation bias is deadly because once you have an idea and begin researching the topic, how someone words the question in the search engine could yield different results. This creates differences in peoples paradigms.

Political echo chambers are a result of people seeking information in these bubbles that they have created unknowingly. If someone identifies as a republican, they watch FOX news, however those who identify as liberal watch CNN and NBC. These just some examples of two different realities. Someone who subscribes to FOX news does not have the same problems or issues in America as someone who watches CNN or NBC. This means we have to include everyone into our bubbles and to allow speech to truly be free. If we start asking for an entity to lock people in cages because they do not use the correct gender pronoun like in Toronto and soon New York; we will lose what the founding fathers envisioned for America.



Trigger Warnings Cause Harm


There are no trigger warnings in the real world. Trigger warnings provide nothing but coddling of millennials. A trigger warning is the practice of giving students advance warning that instructional or academic materials might set off a difficult or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) response. These warnings are most commonly applied to discussions about rape, sexual abuse, and mental illness and have appeared on message boards since the early days of the Web. However, in the past few years they have gained momentum beyond the Internet and have become a part of the college and university classroom. In 2014, the University of California, Santa Barbara, passed a resolution urging professors to institute mandatory trigger warnings on class syllabi. Professors were told that if they presented “content that may trigger the onset of symptoms of PTSD”, they would be required to issue advance alerts and allow students to skip those classes. (Jarvie)

The classroom is not a place to treat PTSD, which is a medical condition that requires serious medical treatment.  Those who have been a victim of violence or sexual assault should seek treatment by professionals. I see no problem placing a warning on class syllabi to alert those with PTSD. I do however have a problem with students who feel they can opt out of learning the material required in a course because it made them in uncomfortable. A professor at Community College in New York may have solved the trigger warning dilemma. He places a content note on his syllabus that encourages discussion AND responsibility for the material. “At times this semester we will be discussing historical events that may be disturbing, even traumatizing, to some students. If you are aware of particular course material that may be traumatizing to you, I’d be happy to discuss any concerns you may have with it before it comes up in class. Likewise, if you ever wish to discuss your personal reactions to such material with the class or with me afterwards, I welcome such discussion as an appropriate part of our coursework. If you ever feel the need to step outside during one of these discussions, either for a short time or for the rest of the class session, you may always do so without academic penalty. You will, however, be responsible for any material you miss. If you do leave the room for a significant time, please make arrangements to get notes from another student or see me individually to discuss the situation.” (Rosenberg)


College is a place where students come to learn about the arts, science, literature, history, and many other disciplines. It is a place to discuss opposing viewpoints on various subjects and how these viewpoints influence our society. These discussions should challenge us and might cause discomfort. With topics such as race relations, religion, human sexuality, or history, at some point everyone will feel uncomfortable. College is a place to prepare you for the real world, a place where you can learn and talk about serious issues, not shielded from or protected by trigger warnings. Edward J. Graham, American Association of University Professors writes, “Some discomfort is inevitable in classrooms if the goal is to expose students to new ideas, have them question beliefs they have taken for granted, grapple with ethical problems they have never considered, and, more generally, expand their horizons so as to become informed and responsible democratic citizens. Trigger warnings suggest that classrooms should offer protection and comfort rather than an intellectually challenging education. They reduce students to vulnerable victims rather than full participants in the intellectual process of education.” (Graham)


Not all colleges are bending to the pressure of trigger warnings. Purdue University followed the University of Chicago’s lead in January by issuing a statement of principles of free expression. Both guarantee “the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn. . . . It is not the proper role of the university to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.” If college students are protected from every uncomfortable feeling, adulthood will be a shocking reality. Attempts to shield students from uncomfortable words and ideas will only cripple them as adults. Rather than trying to protect students from words or ideas that they will most certainly encounter as an adult, colleges should equip students to respect the viewpoints of others and prepare them for world of ideas and words they will have no control over.




Work Cited

Graham, Edward. “On Trigger Warnings”. American Association of University Professors, Academic Freedom and Tenure Investigative Reports. August 2014,

Jarvie, Jenny, “Trigger Happy” at

Parker, Kathleen. Trigger warnings, colleges, and the ‘Swaddled Generation’. The Washington Post, May 19, 2015,

Rosenberg, Alyssa. How trigger warnings could really work. The Washington Post, February 12, 2015,

You Should Enjoy Being Told that You are Wrong

When you go to college you expect protests and to have contradicting opinions thrown into your face. The scary thing about that is with safe spaces and trigger warnings we are creating environments where you won’t have your opinions disagreed with as commonly anymore. I’ve had arguments here on campus and they have been very tame in comparison to what I came across in high school. In my social studies class in high school the argument could escalate to the point to where people could barely speak anymore from being so tired out about the subject. I learned a lot through those arguments, and while I have learned things from the debates I’ve had here on campus I didn’t walk away from them feeling like either side really got to explain what they meant, for fear of coming off the wrong way. It’s become common practice for people to be considered sensitive, to which I question if an ideal world to live in would be one where instead of focusing on the topic at hand, we focus on our argument being valid through us not appearing as negative in the eyes of the people we’re debating with. I’ve even found myself falling into the trap of being oversensitive to the people I’m talking to for fear of them not listening to my argument anymore.

I remember a time when I was concerned with what was okay to say and what was not okay to say. Sometimes the things that are or are not okay to say are not really up to my discretion on whether or not they are offensive. A common example I can use is that I could refer to something as “autistic,” and even though it may not actually show signs of autism I still used the word, which some people might find offensive and I cannot help that. My point in saying this is that people who are trying to be “politically correct” are trying to pinpoint what’s okay to say and what isn’t, and most of the time it isn’t up to them on what we can or can’t say. A good example of this was in the 10th season of South Park in episodes 3 and 4. In said episodes the problem of sensitivity arises when one show wants to feature the Muslim prophet Muhammad on air without censoring his image. A lot of things happen in between the beginning of the story and the end, but the main focus isn’t on the story but on the takeaway; a quote from one of the characters in the show: “You can’t make a distinction between what is ok to poke fun at and what isn’t. Either it is all ok, or none of it is” (Parker). In a youtube video I watched recently I heard the creator of the video tell me that I was a terrible person if I made jokes about people with physical illnesses, which is just as bad as making fun of someone with a mental illness (Video). Which goes hand in hand with the message South Park is trying to convey: anyone should be able to joke about anything.

A common saying is that our generation isn’t oversensitive, which is understandable to believe, because it’s not too far fetched… yet. As said by writer for The New York Times Katie Byron, us “millennials are creating a more inclusive world” (Byron), which in it’s own respect isn’t a bad thing, but applied to how our culture is already inclusive as is, this could pose to be a future problem. Why is this a problem you may ask? If we are being careful to make sure everyone is being included when everyone is already included, then we are just framing our debates to be very non-constructive with catering to everyone’s needs, even when what they want contradicts the very problem we are trying to solve. We as a culture cannot begin to structure our arguments to cater to everyone’s wants and needs, or else we’ll begin to focus on people’s feelings instead of working towards the solution.

Even if you still think that oversensitivity isn’t an issue, you can’t deny court cases in which people were sued for their opinions or times when “the federal Department of Education, [tried] to suppress student speech” (Volokh). There are other times when students just straight up refuse to take part in discussion simply because they don’t agree with the other side’s opinion. Even if the generation after millennials comes in to change things it won’t matter because “the largest generation in American history — will soon define how America does business, how America thinks and feels, and whether America holds fast to its free speech ideals” (Lythcott-Haims). With the new industry being dominated in terms of your sensitivity towards other cultures, it can become a bit of an issue for those who are actually trying to be progressive with their ideas.

What we should be working towards as the new generation molding the United States of America should be a culture that is better for those coming in behind us, and making a culture where everyone has to eventually agree is not the ideal, because it’s utopian–it’s impossible. We should be able to eventually agree on some things, but “consensus should not be the goal – even about free speech” (McCarthy).








Byron, Katie. “Millennials Are Creating a More Inclusive and Just World.” New York Times, 21 Dec. 2015,

Green, Hank. OCD & Anxiety Disorders: Crash Course Psychology #29. YouTube. Crash Course. 1 Sep. 2014.

Lythcott-Haims, Julie. “Millennials Will Soon Define ‘America,’ and That’s a Problem for Ideas.” New York Times, 21 Dec. 2015,

McCarthy, Kathleen. “Today’s Students Have a New Way of Looking at Free Speech.” New York Times, 21 Dec. 2015,

Parker, Trey. “Cartoon Wars II.” South Park. Comedy Central. 12 Apr. 2016.

Volokh, Eugene. “The Importance of Protecting Even the Thoughts We Hate.” New York Times, 2 May 2016,

Wikipedia contributors. “Cartoon Wars Part I.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 24 Oct. 2016. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.

Wikipedia contributors. “Cartoon Wars Part II.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 16 Nov. 2016. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.