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Hello!

I can get on board with Larina's commentary regarding the value of students knowing what they're getting into for any class activity that could trigger the types of responses/experiences that those with prior trauma could experience. It was very valuable in my education to encounter new, difficult, and often anxiety-provoking ideas and materials, and I felt especially secure in these encounters due to the fact that I could retain some "critical distance" from the subject matter - a perspective that academia provides. However, PTSD is a real condition and one worthy of our attention, consideration, and accommodation. The students' concerns in this report are valid; still, holding back on materials because they might "upset" students sounds like a different thing entirely. 

I apologize also for my glib comment reaching the listserv; it was meant for an internal email and as a response to the idea of denying students access to a fantastic text like Achebe's Things Fall Apart due to fears over students' reactions to the content. Nevertheless, such a policy could be dangerous if misconstrued or thoughtlessly implemented. My suggestion would be that college counseling centers and offices that manage accommodations for students collaborate in ways that ensure that professors' class materials are not being censored in any way, but that the proper changes can be made in cases that are deemed on par with PTSD. A meeting with a counselor could generate could determine whether a student has a trauma history that could be perpetuated through some intense class materials, and an accommodation letter could be generated while maintaining the privacy of the student in the same way that learning differences or physical disabilities are accommodated for on campuses.


Sam Meyer
Director of Academic Support Services
Spalding University Academic Resource Center
(502) 873-4167



-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Larina Warnock
Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2014 2:15 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: LA Times

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-20140
> 331,0,6700908.story#ixzz2xdkIkRPG
>
>
> Norman Stahl
> [log in to unmask]
>
>
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