Ryan WittEnglish 101March 8, 2017Trigger Warnings and Safe SpacesHave you ever been reading something and had the feeling that the author is desperately trying to convince you that their opinion is the correct opinion and no other opinion really seems to matter to them? Well that is what it felt like to me while reading Lindsay Holmes’ article A Quick Lesson On What Trigger Warnings Actually Do. I think her opinions on post-traumatic stress disorder and panic disorders are coming from an educated guess and not necessarily an opinion based on actual traumatic experiences for the simple fact that she constantly cites unverified research and has little to nothing to back up her claims.
Ultimately, this is why her essay is ineffective.According to Lindsay Holmes, a welcome letter by the University of Chicago that admits the college does not support “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” in class or on campus, means to her, “students who may be susceptible to mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder or panic disorders are undeserving of a warning that a lecture or guest speaker may aggravate those issues or traumatic experiences.” (Holmes) She seems to believe “trigger warnings” would solve every issue with a student’s condition and would allow them to be free of torment to their disorders,.There are many instances in Holmes’ work where her arguments seem flawed. One specific place she gives an example of this flawed argument is in the headline of her article which says research shows that trigger warnings help and are rarely used (maybe for good reason). An example she uses as “research” is when she says “What’s more, research clearly shows that atmospheres that promote negative stereotypes can act as barriers to treatment, furthering stigma and causing additional psychological trauma.
”(Holmes) The research she is referring to is an article written by an author with unknown credentials on the website psychologicalscience.org. In this same article the unknown author refers to mental health patients dropping out of their treatments due to public stigma and “avoid it entirely for fear of being associated with the negative stereotypes.” (psychologicalscience.org) If the author of this was indeed a psychologist this would mean if there were a specific place or “safe space” for a person to go to avoid all things negative it would be the prime hunting grounds for a person who wants to do exactly the opposite of making the place safe. Not only that but the stigma associated with mental health issues would become far worse for someone if they were all huddled together in this “safe space.”.
It seems as though Holmes seems to misinterpret material to fit her own narrative in certain instances throughout the article, one example of this is how Holmes goes on to say, “And just below a promise of inclusivity, respect and diversity, the university also stated that it would not provide zones on campus for students to freely visit where they can be sure to avoid hateful and re-traumatizing rhetoric. (In case, say, someone invites George Will, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist who likes to tell college audiences that rape victims are a privileged class on campus.)”(Holmes) Holmes is referring to George Will’s letter he wrote under opinions for the Washington Post. In that letter he wrote about an instance of a woman accusing a close friend of rape, even though she didn’t try to stop it from happening, but just “allowed” it to happen, then six weeks later after who knows what had happened between the two of them, she reported the incident to the police..In Will’s letter he talks about how colleges have become victims of change and to the control of the government by unreliable statistics or rape incidents on college campuses, and although the numbers are still high, they can be interpreted anyway you want them to be interpreted.
So this is why he says “the supposed campus epidemic of rape, aka “sexual assault.” (Will) He is basically saying that there are still too many sexual assaults going on in colleges around the country, but not nearly as high as what has been reported. An author’s misinterpretations might significantly affect the reader’s understanding of what the author is trying to express because they might think she is purposely misinterpreting the facts to fit her narrative.Holmes seems to have a deep desire to protect students while they are attending college and is trying to get the reader to agree with her one-sided views even though some of her research and logic can be misleading. Holmes admits the subject of trigger warnings is very complicated and has been debated, this shows to me that Homes might have somewhat of an open mind that this subject is controversial and her view of trigger warnings and safe spaces probably isn’t accepted by everyone. A strong argument that Holmes makes is when she brings up the fact that “Nearly 30 percent of students in 2014 reported experiencing a psychological health issue that negatively influenced their academic performance.”(Holmes) This opens the reader’s eyes to the fact that mental health might be more serious than most people imagine and will get the reader to possibly think of ways to assist in making the college atmosphere a safer and healthier place.