Beyond Trigger Warnings

I have seen good arguments against trigger warnings in the classroom and bad ones (sometimes in the same article). As I have said before, I oppose mandatory trigger warnings in higher education. But I want to move beyond arguing about whether trigger warnings are bad or good and instead discuss how we can meet the needs of students who have been traumatized without giving other students an excuse to avoid challenging material. And so I am drafting language include in my syllabuses to meet these ends. Here is what I have so far:

In this course, we will discuss sensitive subjects such as x, x, and x. While these topics can be uncomfortable for most people, for some of you, the feelings may go beyond discomfort. If you find certain material or topics triggering or re-traumatizing, please come talk to me so we can discuss how you can continue to participate, which may include alternative assignments or readings. If there is any specific kind of material that you need to be warned about ahead of time for mental health reasons, you can request those warnings by talking to me, emailing me, or writing a request when I ask for anonymous questions. [NB: I give my students multiple opportunities in-class to write anonymous questions.] If you will be unable to read any material for such reasons, however, it is your responsibility to approach me for an alternative. Be assured, I will not demand details of your experiences; I will do my best to be sensitive to your situation.

I would be grateful for any feedback about how to improve this statement.

1 comment for “Beyond Trigger Warnings

  1. July 13, 2014 at 10:10 am

    I think that is a great disclaimer, and I think it is needed.

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