There is a movement that has been created by students at certain colleges, a movement to clean the environment of ideas, words, and subjects that could cause discomfort or offense. In a nut shell, students and professors are restricted from writing, speaking, teaching, and thinking about themes that could be offensive to certain peers. This has been a problem that has grown through the years, becoming a much larger annoyance for many. It has changed the way professors teach and has changed the way students learn. And it’s basically shielding adult college students from what is happening in the real world. This movement is, basically, poorly preparing students for the professional life of adulthood, making them create a wrong opinion when talking to others.
Trigger warnings are warnings for students in a class that could be “triggered” by what is said in the work they are learning. Professors have been newly taught to use trigger warnings in their teaching methods, supposedly to protect their students. But, what it’s really doing is stopping professors from teaching actual facts, and making them avoid controversial ideas. Some professors are even scared to say anything to their students. Teaching this way is not helpful, because students are there to learn, not to be coddled. Lesley University professor Liv Cummins finds herself, “questioning whether or not [she] should show something [she] thinks has a lot of educational value if [she] thinks it will be potentially upsetting to students, who may later complain or not be able to see the value to their learning.” She is not the only one to think this way. Professors at a lot of universities find it hard to get around these trigger warnings. It’s almost they are holding back from teaching their students in order to not “trigger” them or cause them emotional upset.
I sat down and talked to a Lesley University student, Julia De Mars, and got her thoughts on the topic. Julia is a creative writing major and finds that “people don’t understand that once they get out into the real world and they try to sell their things, you won’t sell anything tiptoeing around certain things.” I 100% agree with Julia; rather than keeping students safe, these “trigger warnings” are preventing us from adapting to the real world.
This movement is boxing students into a politically correct corner, making them feel like everyone who is with the movement is bullying them to think only one way. This is frustrating for students with different points of view, who want to express themselves. “I thought when coming here I could be free and find myself in all things, especially my passion,” says Julia. “However I feel like I cannot really progress here with the intense mass ideology of the student population that whatever is slightly disagreeable to them is automatically wrong and should never be said again or they will feel unsafe.” She continues by saying it makes her feel “unsafe in [her] work.” This isn’t what education should be about. Everyone can’t have one opinion; we are all individuals who think differently. We may share the same opinions on topics, but we shouldn’t be forced to think one way, or keep quiet for fear we will offend someone.
In my experience with “trigger warnings”, it feels as though someone has been holding my hand since day one of my elementary school days. All through middle school, high school, and now college my hand is still being held. What happens when I graduate and enter the real world? It’s not going to be pretty when I realize what is happening. We can’t be shielded by what’s happening in the world. In most of my creative writing classes students are putting up “trigger warnings” to their writing with swear words or mentions of blood. If you honestly can’t handle that type of creative writing get up and leave the room, don’t get angry and argue with the writer.
That being said, I am not completely opposed to trigger warnings. I do believe there are times when it is appropriate to use them. Teachings or readings that involve sexual violence, assault, physical violence, or anything of that sort could have a warning. But, the warning should be more of letting the reader or student know what they are getting into, not something where they shouldn’t have to read it. Something like, “please be advised what we will be reading does have a bit of violence, so be prepared for what is about to be read out loud.” It’s that simple; and doing it that way prepares the students for what is about to happen. It also lets the professor teach without having to be nervous. And if a student does feel uncomfortable about a certain subject, they can get up and leave the room, not call out the professor and argue that this is inappropriate to talk about in their class.
It seems that “trigger warnings” have grown more popular on many campuses. But I believe they have gotten way out of hand. We are adults and should act like adults, not like children who need to have our eyes covered from scary things that are mentioned in class. It’s time to realize that there won’t be any warnings when we go out into the real world to live our life.