Trigger warnings getting out of hand

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Elise Furlan/PSU Vanguard

College isn’t so bad these days.

I remember being terrified after hearing about it from my high school teachers and older relatives. “There is no second chance if you miss assignments,” they said. “Professors don’t care,” they said.

After attending college for two years, I’m now realizing that I was terrified for nothing. Don’t get me wrong; there are a few professors I would never take a course from ever again. But honestly, professors are pretty lenient nowadays. If anything, they treat us like kids.

I don’t blame them.

As college students, we expect a lot from our professors. They shouldn’t give us too many assignments. They should always cancel class. Why do they talk so much? Can we just watch films every class?

If you’re a college student, you’re probably guilty of at least one of these expectations. I know I am.

One big expectation is the integration of trigger warnings in the classroom. The idea of trigger warnings is simple — they inform students that the classroom material can possibly cause an emotional reaction.

There is nothing wrong with this: A war veteran or rape victim should be able to know whether a class material is safe for them or not.

However, trigger warnings are getting out of hand. More and more college students expect trigger warnings for almost everything. Classic novels like Mrs. Dalloway and The Great Gatsby have already been requested by students to need trigger warnings. They have been taught in the classroom for many years. It is only recently students have had a problem with them.

But what are we learning if we expect censorship for materials that are meant to teach us something? Why do we need professors if we are the ones choosing what we want to learn?

While I completely agree that sometimes topics are more offensive than educational and therefore should not be discussed, I do believe that expecting trigger warnings for almost everything denies our right to have quality education.

College students are supposed to be challenged.

After all, how are we supposed to be the future leaders of this country if we can’t learn to engage in topics that make us feel uncomfortable? Any time we tell a professor what can’t be discussed, we are denying ourselves the opportunity for academic freedom.

This is not to say students have no right to feel a certain way when it comes to sensitive topics, but my professors always made sure to inform us that we could come talk to them individually if we needed special accommodations or had any concerns. And that’s perfectly okay for us to do. What’s not okay is to expect them to refrain from teaching something that simply “bothers” us.

We need to be bothered. That’s how we change the world. We need to recognize a problem, notice that it bothers us and do something about it.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned thus far, it’s that college is not supposed to be comfortable. We don’t pay so much just to remain in our comfort zones. Our professors know that. They get paid to help us reach our full potential.

The next time you stumble upon classroom material that makes you feel uncomfortable, thank your professors. Don’t start a protest.

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