Trigger warnings encumber deep discussion
By Sara Khan
A movement to have “trigger warnings” has been spreading rampant among colleges and universities. Should UMBC classes incorporate warnings in the syllabus before they delve into specific material?
Take a minute and think about a syllabus for a class. Does it say all the necessary information you need? When you are confused about a certain due date or topic, do you refer back to the syllabus? Does it act as your guide to succeeding in the class?
There is a movement, discussed throughout universities, to implement “trigger warnings” – notices of potentially offensive content – before students dive into certain material. Some believe that these trigger warnings are an excellent addition to the educational system because they enable students to feel more comfortable in a classroom environment.
Students who have been victims of sexual assault, for example, may be sensitive to a rape scene being discussed in class. If a trigger warning were utilized, they would be able to avoid the discussion entirely.
Although they are a clever thought, trigger warnings prove to be unnecessary and troublesome. What many fail to understand is the danger of students abusing these trigger warnings. They may use these as an excuse to avoid schoolwork or skip discussions. Trigger warnings would just help these wrongdoers in their actions and faculty should be preventing this from happening.
But trigger warnings, if instituted, would also be more common in certain departments. Students typically choose classes for their major or for general education requirements, and they should know what to expect when they sign up for the class. For example, if a student takes a class in gender and women’s studies, they should understand that sensitive topics would be brought to the discussion. It is expected, and trigger warnings would serve no point.
Pritha Govindaraju, sophomore and information systems major, wholeheartedly believes that trigger warnings would be a waste of time for colleges and universities. “I believe that you should take full responsibility for the course you decide to take on,” she says, “College is about learning, not avoiding.”
College classes should include insightful and thought-provoking discussions. Students should be able to engage in those topics without sensitivity, and if not, they should be able to talk to the professor about it after class or in office hours. Higher learning is meant to challenge the mind, not tiptoe around the emotions.
Sophomore economics and political science major, Stuti Mainali, agrees. She says, “The best college classes are meant to stimulate and surprise you. If you steer clear of the most interesting topics, how are you supposed to gain the best educational experience?”
As college students, we should take a mature approach to learning. Trigger warnings are better suited for a high school, but definitely not for an honors university like UMBC. Trigger warnings could be useful in rare situations, but we should spend more time engaging in powerful classroom discussions, rather than trying to find ways to avoid the full college experience.