Posted On April 3, 2014 By In The Scene, Up For Debate

In Defense of Trigger Warnings


As of Monday, The LA Times published an article condemning a resolution passed by the UC-Santa Barbara Academic Senate intended to ensure that students would receive notice of “triggering” content before it appears in a classroom.

The title of this article is “Warning: College students, this editorial may upset you.”


…I am upset. Upset at the victim-blaming that this perpetrates. Upset at the lack of sympathy for our fellow humans who have undergone traumatic events. Upset at the manner in which the writer dismisses the need for trigger warnings by stating students should go and individually tell the professor about their post-traumatic stress disorder, not thinking about the difficulty of saying something like that to a professor.

This article was not by any means the first attack on this resolution, as other writers such as New Republic’s Jenny Jarvie have also spoken out against trigger warnings. In her case, it appears she has not even read the resolution and therefore is not only insensitive, but extremely uninformed as well. I take extreme offense to the implication presented by Jarvie that survivors of abuse and war are “vulnerable and mentally ill.” It appears extremely ignorant of her to state that people who do not want their education to be compromised in the face of trauma are actually mentally ill and weaker than the general population.

If these writers had decided to read the official language before declaring an attack on the trigger warning resolution, they would have seen that nowhere does it ask professors to censor their lessons. Instead, it simply asks for students to be informed about the information that will be presented in class so that they can avoid an environment that would be emotionally harmful. I am astounded at the amount of backlash this has seen, especially in light of the measures our society has taken to work against bullying and sexism.

As a member of the UCSB student body, as a woman, and as a survivor myself, I implore everyone to consider the real consequences of the kind of language used in these articles. They not only question the validity of emotions had by someone undergoing experiences they presumably never have, but the Los Angeles Times goes as far as to declare that “colleges cannot bubble-wrap students against everything that might be frightening or offensive.” This rather sensationalist statement seems to forget that ensuring the mental health of its students is a responsibility schools such as UCSB have undertaken, and allowing students who have experienced rape, war, or other traumatic events to attend class without fear  is essential to having a healthy student body.

Doesn’t every student deserve to get an education without having to worry about being ambushed by content that reminds her of a very personal, traumatic experience?

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