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Subject:

Re: LA Times

From:

Larina Warnock <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 1 Apr 2014 11:14:43 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (201 lines)

While I don't agree with the particular wording of this particular policy,
trigger warnings absolutely should be required on syllabi for violent
sexual imagery (common in English programs) and scenes of domestic
violence, both of which are as likely to result in PTSD as veteran
experience, but much less likely than veteran experience to be diagnosed as
PTSD. A trigger warning shouldn't be an excuse to get out of class or
assignments, but it does give the person reading or watching an opportunity
to emotionally prepare themselves for material that could cause significant
distress and depression. We're not talking about "discomfort" here. We're
talking about very real, very serious emotional *and physical *complications
that can result in students dropping out. The level of insensitivity to
this issue when 1 in 5 women in our country has been a victim of rape and
when rape is more common on college campuses than the general community is
one of the reasons that we have a culture of rape in our country. "It's no
big deal. Get over it. You have to deal with uncomfortable subjects in
order to learn and grow. It's just part of life." That's very easy to say
for people who haven't experienced it or who had the opportunity and
support to get treatment, but many of our students, especially our low
income students, don't have that opportunity and have no idea that this is
what they're coming to college to read and watch. A trigger warning is *common
moral respect and decency*. It is *empathy*. It is also *acknowledgment to
possible perpetrators of sexual violence that sexual violence has real,
long-lasting results that are not acceptable.* Every single time I hear
someone say that these topics are "just part of the college experience" I
hear them saying "Your experience does not matter because it makes great
fiction." Is that really the message that you want to be sending?

If it moral sensitivity is "antithetical to college life," maybe we're
teaching the wrong things.

Larina Warnock
Developmental Studies Instructor
WH214
541-917-2311

We read to know we are not alone. -C.S. Lewis


On Tue, Apr 1, 2014 at 10:14 AM, Meyer, Samuel <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Wow! That is a ridiculous policy, and one that could go so many negative
> directions. I can't believe they'd suggest that professors avoid some of
> the best books of my college experience! All the more reason to read it...
>   :)
>
> Sam
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals [mailto:
> [log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Luther, Judith H.
> Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2014 10:35 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: LA Times
>
> Sam:
>
> If you haven't read this, then you'll understand after reading.
> :)
>
> Judy
>
> *******************************************************
> Judy H. Luther
> Senior Director, Academic Resource Center Assistant Professor of English
> Office:  ELC 200
> Spalding University
> 901 South Fourth Street
> Louisville, KY  40203
> Office:  (502) 873-4165
> [log in to unmask]
> ARC on the Web:  http://blog.spalding.edu/arc
>
> Each small task of everyday life is part of the total harmony of the
> universe.
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals [mailto:
> [log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Norman Stahl
> Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2014 9:17 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: LA Times
>
> Warning: College students, this editorial may upset you 'Trigger warning'
> policies, like one proposed at UC Santa Barbara, are antithetical to
> college life.
>
>
> By The Times editorial board
>
> March 31, 2014
>
>
> The latest attack on academic freedom comes not from government
> authorities or corporate pressure but from students. At UC Santa Barbara,
> the student Senate recently passed a resolution that calls for mandatory
> "trigger warnings" -- cautions from professors, to be added to their course
> syllabi, specifying which days' lectures will include readings or films or
> discussions that might trigger feelings of emotional or physical distress.
>
> The resolution calls for warnings if course materials will involve
> depictions and discussions of rape, sexual assault, suicide, pornography or
> graphic violence, among other things. The professors would excuse students
> from those classes, with no points deducted, if the students felt the
> material would distress them; it is left unclear how students would
> complete assignments or answer test questions based on the work covered in
> those classes.
> The student resolution is only advisory, a recommendation that campus
> authorities can turn into policy or reject. They should not only choose the
> latter course but should explain firmly to students why such a policy would
> be antithetical to all that college is supposed to provide: a rich and
> diverse body of study that often requires students to confront difficult or
> uncomfortable material, and encourages them to discuss such topics openly.
> Trigger warnings are part of a campus culture that is increasingly
> overprotective and hypersensitive in its efforts to ensure that no student
> is ever offended or made to feel uncomfortable.
> Trigger warnings have been used on the Internet for a long time, first
> appearing on feminist websites visited by victims of sexual attacks; the
> goal was to protect assault victims from material that might trigger
> post-traumatic stress disorder. The warnings spread to a wide variety of
> websites and material that readers might find troubling.
> That's fine for websites that voluntarily choose to caution their
> visitors, but it's exactly the wrong approach for colleges and
> universities. Oberlin College in Ohio already has gone further than UC
> Santa Barbara, issuing official trigger-warning guidelines for professors
> that sound almost like a parody of political correctness: "Triggers are not
> only relevant to sexual misconduct but also to anything that might cause
> trauma. Be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism,
> ableism and other issues of privilege and oppression. Realize that all
> forms of violence are traumatic."
> Worse, the Oberlin guidelines go on to advise professors to remove
> "triggering material" from their courses entirely if it is not directly
> related to the course's learning goals. Such instructions come dangerously
> close to censorship.
> Chinua Achebe's novel "Things Fall Apart" is listed by Oberlin as one
> possible "trigger" book because of its themes of colonialism, racism,
> religious prejudice and more. At Rutgers, an op-ed in the student paper
> suggested that study of "The Great Gatsby" should require trigger warnings
> about violence and gore. And then what happens? Should students be excused
> from reading a work of great literature, or be allowed to read a sanitized
> version?
> Professors, uncertain of what might be considered too sexual, too warlike
> or so forth, might issue warnings so broad that they're meaningless, or
> feel pressured to bleach the syllabus to a pallid version of a real college
> course.
> There are students who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, a
> serious psychological condition that calls for sensitive treatment.
> Students who have been diagnosed with it could explain their situation to
> individual professors, who almost certainly would be willing to work out a
> sensible accommodation, preferably one that wouldn't involve missing
> multiple classes.
> But the Santa Barbara resolution doesn't cover only students who have been
> diagnosed with PTSD. Any student who is discomfited by the material would
> be excused from class if this were campus policy.
> As psychologists point out, a post-traumatic response is just as likely to
> be triggered by something that has nothing to do with subject matter: a
> glimpse of the same blue-colored clothing that was visible during a
> traumatic event, or a certain scent that was in the air that day. Colleges
> cannot bubble-wrap students against everything that might be frightening or
> offensive to them.
>
>
> Copyright (c) 2014, Los Angeles Times
>
>
>
> http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-trigger-warnings-20140331,0,6700908.story#ixzz2xdkIkRPG
>
>
> Norman Stahl
> [log in to unmask]
>
>
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