Trigger warnings, which give advance notice to students that what they are about to be exposed to might contain offensive or politically incorrect material, have become part of the academic landscape in recent years. But there is a terrible problem with trigger warnings that is only now being appreciated.
“We must have trigger warnings about trigger warnings if we hope to foster a nurturing environment where people can feel safe.”
Campus activists point out that trigger warnings often contain inflammatory language like ‘you’re going to hear, read, or see something unpleasant and possibly offensive’, which they say presents a huge threat to impressionable young minds.
“It’s not right to subject students to the potential trauma of hearing a trigger warning without giving them an opportunity to decide if they want to participate in it or not.”
Some trigger warnings may even make explicit reference to the micro-aggressions being warned against, making them little better than the subject matter that gave rise to them in the first place.
“Clearly being told you might be exposed to something outside of your comfort zone can itself place you outside your comfort zone, and therefore has no place in our institutions of higher education without adequate protections.”
Even discussions about the need for trigger warnings about trigger warnings are considered problematic, as the word ‘trigger’ is evocative of violence, so any instance of its use should always be preceded by a trigger warning.