I Need Trigger Warnings: A Response to Skidmore News

trigger warnings

Each day since the horrifying Skidmore News article was released deeming trigger warnings as unnecessary and “intellectually lazy,” I have sat down and attempted to write a response letter to the editorial board. But, each time, I cannot get past the first paragraph without letting my anger get the best of me and needing to take a step back.

I am a survivor of sexual assault. I need trigger warnings. Notice that I use the word “need”– not want, not favor, but need. In order to be a student who is actively able to contribute to the classroom environment, in order to be a productive member of a workplace, in order to function socially. When a professor or coworker or friend prefaces something they’re about to say with the words “trigger warning” or some sort of preface that we’re going to be discussing a sensitive topic, I am able to brace myself in order to fully engage in this interaction.

The words of this article further enforces the damaging stigma surrounding survivors of sexual assault, mental illness, and other types of life experiences. While I should have been prepared to see this kind of language from Skidmore News considering their previous coverage on sexual assault and gender equality on campus, I truly expected more of the Editorial Board when it came to this topic.

I am not intellectually lazy. I have a good GPA, I have consistently taken 18-credit course-loads while simultaneously working three part-time jobs and running my own organization. I am strong, I am smart– and it has taken me years to be able to see this within myself. If memory serves me correctly, I have stepped out of a class only twice in my entire college career to compose myself– and this was not due to a trigger warning giving me permission to. This was because a professor did not use a trigger warning before launching into a discussion on graphic depictions of sexual assault– something that I was not mentally prepared to handle, but that I could have had there been a warning that this was where the conversation was headed.

If needing a trigger warning to be able to feel safe and able to engage in this community makes me intellectually lazy, than goddamnit, I guess I’m intellectually lazy. But if Skidmore News and other members of this supposedly warm and open community decide to stigmatize and create an unsafe environment for individuals who also need trigger warnings, then they are willingly ignorant and rude.

Please note that I have chosen not to respond to the Skidmore News article on their own website, as I do not want to give them any more publicity or traffic than I already have by addressing their horrifying remarks.

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