Campus Reform | Survey: Majority of profs use trigger warnings

Survey: Majority of profs use trigger warnings

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A recent survey of college professors shows that more than half of the nation’s educators use trigger warnings during their lectures.

In an NPR poll of more than 800 professors, 51 percent reported using a trigger warning when introducing sensitive topics, while 49 percent claimed never to have done so.

Of the 428 professors who responded affirmatively, 230 are employed at public 4-year, non-profit institutions, but only 45 are from private 4-year, non-profit schools, with the remainder of respondents coming from other types of institutions, such as public or private 2-year colleges.

[RELATED: AU student govt endorses use of trigger warnings despite faculty objections]

Notably, most professors reported that they elected to use trigger warnings of their own volition, rather than because the practice was required by university policy.

In fact, only 1.8 percent of those surveyed said that their institutions had an official policy requiring the use of trigger warnings, and just 3.4 percent reported that students had requested a trigger warning.

Even so, a whopping 86 percent reported being familiar with the term, and 56 percent recalled hearing of a colleague who was said to have used trigger warnings in class.

[RELATED: Coalition of higher ed groups pens letter against trigger warnings]

Most professors said they typically use trigger warnings before presenting sexual or violent material, though a few mentioned using them when discussing racial or religious topics.

"I have had students break down reading novels depicting sexual assault and incest in my gender studies courses," one professor claimed, while others recounted similar tales of students becoming highly emotional in response to certain discussion topics.

Interestingly, though, none of the professors recalled any instances of students skipping class or avoiding an assignment because of the material being discussed, though some did say that on infrequent occassions a student might excuse themselves from class for a few minutes during particularly taxing conversations.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski