Poplar College issued a new policy for all faculty requiring that instructors provide trigger warnings for each trigger warning they give in class.
Trigger warnings are a heads up to students that potentially disturbing or offensive material is going to be shared in class.
Poplar junior Elaine Hossenfelder lobbied the board of trustees to adopt the new policy after a trigger warning upset her.
“I was taking Professor Aaron Cobb’s ‘Violence in the Justice System’ class as a requirement for my criminal justice minor,” said Hossenfelder. “On the very first day, Dr. Cobb gave a trigger warning that we were going to be talking about different types of violence that might be upsetting. I’m sorry, but did he not realize the word ‘violence’ is very offensive to me?”
According to Cobb, “Elaine broke into tears and ran out of the room when I reviewed the syllabus with the class. When I saw her Twitter posts later and realized how upset the word ‘violence’ had made her I had to really reflect on my choices. I had assumed that since Elaine was a C.J. minor and that the name of the class clearly stated that violence was a part of the course, I could assume a certain level of awareness and emotional preparation. This new policy will be fantastic at eliminating that type of confusion.”
Hossenfelder’s Twitter account had posts such as “Dr. F**ing Cobb used the word violence in class today. What an insensitive prick. #LearningShouldntBeUncomfortable” and “Binge-watching Breaking Bad to try to distract myself from the trauma of Dr. Cobb’s class. #LearningShouldntBeUncomfortable The #LearningShouldntBeUncomfortable social media hashtag has gone viral now as a mantra for college students across the country.
“I used to think this trigger warning stuff was a form of coddling to students – and perhaps even withholding opportunities for us to learn some harsh truths about our world, but after seeing how hurt Elaine was I can see the other side,” said Student Government President Mitch Raidor, who voted in favor of the new policy. “In fact, I’ve told my ‘History of America in Wartime’ professor that I should no longer be expected to complete any assignment that has anything to do with conflict because I just don’t condone conflict – especially the intellectual kind.”