The University of Chicago got the debate about trigger warnings started again when it told incoming freshmen that the university did not support warning students about potentially difficult material. Not all faculty members agree with that stance.
A survey of more than 800 faculty members conducted last fall by National Public Radio found that about half of them used trigger warnings, and most did it on their own. The study, which NPR admitted was not a scientific sample, noted that 86% of the professors knew of the term “trigger warning,” but fewer than 2% said their institutions had official policies about their use.
The survey also reported that fewer than 4% of students requested a warning. Nearly 65% of the professors who provided one did so because they thought the material required it and none of the respondents said they had students try to get out of an assignment or skip a class because the topic made them uncomfortable.
“I think that trigger warnings can and should be used in a limited number of situations, but overusing them can create a situation in which students opt out of learning experiences simply because they don’t want to confront their own assumptions about the world,” Lauren Griffith, a professor of ethnology at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, told NPR about her use of the warnings.