author Marlee Hirson, Wednesday March 2, 2016

If you had the choice between knowing about a crime alert on campus or not, even if the content may be distressing, which would you choose?

A recent article, “Campus Crime Alerts Now Come with Trigger Warnings” discusses how the University of Iowa added a “trigger warning” for a safety alert about a reported sexual misconduct on campus. The article discusses how some schools are choosing to send safety alerts with disclaimers about trigger warnings before the actual content. The purpose of this is to avoid students from becoming stressed or anxious after hearing about violence on campus, such as a sexual assault.

Distressing Information or Important Information?

Having all the details about crime and security alerts on campus provides students and faculty members with important information, such as where the crime took place and details about the reported suspect. The biggest consequence of trigger warnings is that some students will choose not to read the safety alerts, which are meant for their own safety.

But the main question is if postsecondary administrators want their students to feel like they’re safe on campus or if they want them to actually be safe. Trigger warnings aren’t doing anything to make students safer.

The purpose of a trigger warning is to keep students from becoming distressed or panicked about safety threats on campus. But that defeats the purpose; shielding students from safety information that’s relevant to them only hinders their safety.

Safety in Awareness

Our approach to campus safety is empowering students and faculty with all the possible information and tools available in a safety app. The more information students have and can use for their own safety, the better.

In a serious emergency, students need to know all relevant information without having to go through a disclaimer before. Will reading a safety alert about a sexual assault upset some students? Possibly. But that’s because a sexual assault is upsetting. That’s why students both need and have a right to know all the information and details about incidents such as these to protect themselves and others by staying informed.

What’s your opinion on placing trigger warnings before campus wide safety alerts? Should trigger warnings be added before all safety alerts? Comment below and tell us what you think!