Tag Archives: Safe

Measures vs. Capability and, Individual Action

Standard

Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces are perceived solutions to the problem of mental health issues in higher education facilities. Trigger warnings are to prepare students for possibly “triggering” information ahead and Safe Spaces are a place where anyone (‘anyone’ changes to marginalized depending where you get the information from) on campus can go to in which they escape away from fear – fear of personal identity being challenged. While it is simple to understand the basics there are a number of factors that I find makes these solutions unnecessary. To engage with a solution of mental health on campus is to find a solution that is not just a preventative solution (like trigger warnings) but to find an individual, case by case solution for which the triggers for mental health are stable and under control. Safe Spaces are problematic as they do not address the issues of mental health or ‘fear’ at hand. They just provide an escape for which people will go out of their way to avoid potential harm and difficulties so they can collect themselves. This is not a long term solution.

Trigger warnings are used to warn people who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that the information they are continuing to be exposed to may trigger their PTSD. To create these warnings is to say they are needed in higher education. Looking at the facts and figures there has been an increase in which University students are developing mental health issues (PTSD being one of those issues) over the years. Though the rate in which cases of PTSD have been triggered on University campuses specifically by information being taught is yet to be known, as there are ethical and personal issues incorporated into University policies that prevent this information from being released. This is not to justify that students need to have a mental breakdown in public in order for solutions to be solved. But shows the significance of what University represents and that higher education facilities have an understanding about the solutions that are provided and those solutions are adequate in capability – of stabilizing and of aiding help to people who suffer from mental health issues like PTSD.

The idea of trigger warnings is to give people a heads-up about the potential harmfulness of information being spread. Though there is an understanding that the students who suffer from mental illness (like any students who do not) like PTSD have a responsibility to the university also. When going to University the responsibility of the engagement is on the student. Students choose the subjects that want to learn, students choose the field that they want to go into and students choose the degree for which they are exposed to the content being presented. Knowing you are going into a field where topics are uncomfortable like wanting to be lawyer and having to learn the law around rape cases. It is a responsibility of the student wanting to be a lawyer to engage with the full scope of the law. If the mental health of a student is not capable of understanding that there are topics in which have to be learned in order to get a specific degree, then the fault of harm rests with the student and not the University. The preventative case of creating trigger warnings only keeps them ‘safe’ on university campuses and not anywhere else. The engagement of trigger warnings only prevents PTSD sufferers from getting triggered by content but not by engaging with the student populace. When people see trigger warnings and have an episode is to say the treatment and methods in which that person is taking care of themselves and treating their PTSD is sub-par or not happening. While this may sound harsh there are treatments in which PTSD sufferers are able to engage with their triggers with which they once had. Mental Health America mentions that PTSD can be treated with success. Psychotherapy, with the help of a trained mental health professional can ease the pain of PTSD and create a successful exposure to once triggering symptoms. It is the individual obligation to seek treatment as that is the first step to recovery. The constant in the individual’s life is the individual.

Safe Spaces are seen as a restorative measure as a way for people who have felt offended or in fear for their well-being are able to escape to a space on campus and relax – free from opposition of any kind. But that opposition is seen to be the problem and this measure of creating a safe space in order for the perceived ‘victims’ to escape to does not prevent people from further imposing on people’s identity. When we look at cases for which Safe Spaces have been created much like in America with academic Cristina Hoff Sommers and her talk at Georgetown University. It was the opposing view that Sommers was presenting that caused for the creation of a safe space. Sommers as a well-known academic in her field talked about her opposition of intersectional feminism ideals that are present in today’s Universities. While there were protests of Sommers to appear on campus the extent for which one opinion can upset an entire university into creating safe spaces is a reflection of the importance on intellectual diversity on university students. While the students creating the safe spaces and protesting Sommers are not a representation of the entire university. The scope at which is has become prevalent on American University campuses begs the question to what extent can today’s university students be logical, reasonable and educated in their discourse of intellectual material without the need for emotional uproar. When someone’s well-being has been compromised by another and they have gone to a safe space to collect themselves, there is no one-time solution to what caused that problem to the begin with. That person in the safe space is going to most likely hear the same opposing views again and again. Again their well-being will be compromised. How is the creation of safe spaces an appropriate solution to intellectual diversity which is expected on every higher education institute? Once someone has left their safe space on campus they are opened to the same material that put them in there in the first place – whether it be an individual concern or a group one. Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces are not a long term solution to this [perceived] problem.

[There are a number of incidences around American University (like one in video below) campuses that hijack the original representation of Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces from what they were in the past – this has added to the challenge for the discussion. Though at least there is a discussion of some sort]

 

Advertisements

No Safe Spaces. Part of the Whole

Standard

Safe Spaces are a problematic idea for Universities. On one hand they give groups of people the ‘freedom’ to go somewhere and be themselves. On the other who gets to say what groups need a specific space on campus and why do they need a space for themselves. Safe Spaces are places where students who feel they have been marginalized by either their sex, ethnicity, religion or sexuality can go and be themselves (with other people like them) free from any metal or physical strain. But how do you go justifying the feeling of marginalization and present this feeling as a problem for the entire University to solve and not a sole issue.

There is an ideal in society to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. To give a voice for those that do not have a voice of their own. While a simple idea the acting of this is to give people who are marginalized in society the opportunity and to teach the abilities of equity for all. But that is all of society. When we simplify the area to Universities – where the fight for Safe Spaces is currently occurring. Then we have to look at what Universities and higher education represents. Universities are the next stage in academia, a challenge for people’s perceptions of the world and, for the development into adulthood. They are accessible for anyone at any time of their life, it is the independence of the student that dictates the role in which higher education will play in their life and the success the student will get from attending. Universities are a safe place to talk, to live, to experience and to attend. The understanding of intellectual freedom underlines the understanding for what information is presented and why it is presented. When we are presented information (opinions, facts and discussions) that we do not like we know that they are not being shown to us for the purpose of mental harm but for intellectual enlightenment. To further understand why we have our point-of-view and why we do not have the point-of-view of others. The intention is not malicious but a safe engagement of information we otherwise would not engage with ourselves. Our lecturers, tutors, peers and other academics that we share the higher education experience with are debates, challenges and utilities to further get a sense of self-understanding and self-growth. Every University has an understanding of what is expected and what is understood even when it is not said so clearly.

Safe Spaces are challenging this representation of Universities and other higher education institutions by condemning that they are not safe, that there is a significant amount of students that are marginalized for who they are and nothing or very little is being done about it. These Safe Spaces are a solution to this perceived problem. The fights are in our Universities so the problem must be somewhere within. On the website the demands there is a list of at least 88 American higher education institutions that demand change for the systemic and structural racism that they believe is apparent on campuses. Under each school there are a number of demands that are expected to be undertaken on each campus to make up for and fix this injustice. Though it is one thing to believe the outcry of the student population it is another to provide adequate empirical evidence to support this claim – which has yet to happen. For each demand being made there is no specific understanding to how the demand should be done within the university. There are demands calling out certain faculty members of the Universities and demand that they create and enforce the plan that is then to be upheld. This pressure on Universities to abide by these demands has been having a negative effect on the University. University of Missouri for example has had instances revolving around faculty members and student protests. This barrage of bad publicity caused by groups pushing for justice has crippled the University. Missouri has faced a significant decline in student enrolments, a decline in alumni donations, the athletic football team has resigned, faculty members are getting sacked for partaking in the commotion irresponsibly and faculty members are also resigning if they are caught against the loud and vocal group. The University is a reflection of the students. When the students have caused a ruckus in their own University they are condemning the entire University to the public even for those who are not involved.

To create Safe Spaces on campus is to say that the campus is unsafe. That there are problem areas for certain minority groups that are a constant occurrence. For a university to have such a space is unimaginable – a space where there is constant aggression and offensive material to specific groups of people. Where is this space? When we give people areas in which they can escape to we separate the student body. When the entire University is a safe space then the entire student body can be a source for empowerment, confidence, communication and of course safety. But when we separate the student body into identity, then we have people engaging with only certain identities. We also force out identities of people by giving them a reason to feel marginalized. When we give people a reason to not feel like a piece of a whole collective they are automatically on the outside and that is not what Universities are about.

The phrase “Safe Space” has negative connotations attached to it – residing from the identity politics popularized by Intersectional Feminism Safe Spaces are seen as places to escape to when someone cannot handle some form of mental strain. The physical build of Safe Spaces has been described as a place where people can colour in, calm down reading a book, watch videos of puppies playing and escape from what caused them harm. While this is an escape it does not prove to be a solution to the problem, merely a temporary quick fix. What ailed the person can still happen, the person still has to leave the safe space and dealing with the issue at hand can still arise. This understanding provides the connotation that the inability to find a solution to the mental anguish that people will face at University is nothing but hypersensitivity.

It’s a Threat – Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces

Standard

There is a threat currently in American higher education facilities that is spreading to other countries. This threat is the introduction of ‘Trigger Warnings’ and ‘Safe Spaces’ in our educational facilities and this agenda is being pushed by current day intersectional feminists and others alike.

trigglypuff

TRIGGLYPUFF the F**k outta here. Source

Safe space is a social space safe for [marginalized] groups to freely communicate and express ideas. While that is a simple idea the function and reality of these safe spaces has changed to an area where individuals may go who feel their opinions, ideas or feelings have been affected in a negative way and so they are not able to freely express themselves – so they would make their way to a ‘safe space’. Such topics that have appeared online in some way where people have felt the need for a safe space have been English self-proclaimed provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos with his “The Dangerous Faggot tour” around American universities. Milo has given us an insight into the behaviour of American university students and the unruly disdain that students have when allowing someone who has an opposing view as they do talks on a campus. Milo’s talk at the University of Massachusetts, accompanied by academic scholar and feminist Christina Hoff Sommers  and French Canadian comedian Steven Crowder. Brought the discussion of the effects third wave/intersectional/millennial feminism has done to the people on today’s universities. Unruly students caused a disturbance in the talk and showed people who are outside of America that this was happening and just how intersectional feminists and those with similar ideals were behaving with the lack of maturity that would not be expected of university students. Here is the video in full:


Trigger warnings are an alert before a piece of work informing that it may contain distressing material leaving the person distressed or in discomfort. While it can be simply equated to the NSFW (Not Safe For Work) tags seen on popular sites like Reddit and Imgur, where the guidelines for an NSFW post reads “Content that contains nudity, pornography, or profanity, which a reasonable viewer may not want to be seen accessing in a public or formal setting such as in a workplace should be tagged as NSFW. This tag can be applied to individual pieces of content or to entire communities.” While there are specific instances for when a warning needs to be placed such as nudity that was mentioned above there are no guidelines or parameters for the implication of trigger warnings in universities other higher education facilities. Who is to say what can and can not be talked about or learnt in a university? Students, academics, administration or people who have everyday triggers. How would we go about understand all of the triggers in universities and who can impose that the standard of warnings will be met? Must an incident happen before a warning is introduced or do we save students and introduce warnings for the sake of babying students to prevent something that could or could not happen.

Melbourne’s Monash University will be the first Australian university to introduce trigger warnings throughout its subject core guides. I have been unable to find the guidelines and parameters for which trigger warnings will be introduced to get a clear understanding about the aspects of university teaching that triggers emotional discomfort with the student body. This information is vital in understanding the concerns and experiences of university students – I hope to find out soon.

I call Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces threats as they censor information and make higher education redundant. The purpose of higher education is to bring to attention different viewpoints and outlooks of different topics. The classroom brings people of all different backgrounds together to talk about a topic from different angles each individual has not experienced or thought about before – to broaden the mind and knowledge of each student. The discussions are a representation of what a university represents – challenging, logical and rational decisions in a respectable safe environment that is free from repression, job loss or imprisonment. While trigger warnings are for the students they censor the ability and create a barrier for the academics that choose those students.

When a trigger warning is present, there is no understanding to what degree the content or a student may be offended or be triggered by. If in cases where a student was not expecting a lot of offensive material in a class, there is no stopping that student for interrupting and calling out the lecturer for not being specific in the details of the warning or their material. If this incident is constant then lecturers would cut out the entire offensive material and throw-in something that could not be seen as offensive. This changing of material to something more friendly, who is too say that it will not be offensive of triggering? When there are aspects of a degree that has been left out for the purpose of preventing a supposed triggering of a student who which it may or may not happen there is something wrong.

Camille Paglia who is an academic and social critic once said “When you are not exposed to complex works of art you end up with a simplistic view of human life…” to mean there is bad stuff in the world and it happens regardless, so when you are exposed to it you understand it and grow from it. There is a full interview between Camille and Christina which discusses the impact of feminism today where the quote comes from, video below (57 mins long):


I am a student at the University of Wollongong and with my next few blog posts I will be going into more detail about Trigger Warnings, Safe Spaces and other areas that relate to the discussion.