Associate Professor of Sociology Julie Winterich’s essay, “Trigger or Not, Warnings Matter,” was published in the Views section of Inside Higher Ed on Friday, Oct. 9.
The essay explains a middle ground in the ongoing debate about “trigger warnings” or alerts about graphic course material on violence and trauma. Some college campuses are demanding their use whiles others discourage them, such as the most recently adopted resolution by American University’s faculty.
After discussing the purpose of trigger warnings in academia and the potential pitfalls of using them, Julie explains her approach of providing course overviews and reminders about upcoming raw course content while also keeping students responsible for that material. Detailing a time when she regrets not giving a thorough description of a documentary that included first-person accounts on sexual assault in the military, she demonstrates how the classroom environment can be a complicated environment for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Whether professors use the language “trigger warning” or not, she argues that as a matter of courtesy professors should give students a heads-up about course content on trauma and violence.