University of Washington student government wants school to introduce ‘content warnings’ in class

The University of Washington student government approved a resolution in favor of 'content warnings' standards for classes.

If implemented, students would be able to submit formal complaints about professors who don't use content warnings' when discussing sensitive material.

Leaders of the University of Washington student government have approved a bill that calls on the university administration to create “content warning” standards for classes.

According to The Daily, the Associated Students of the University of Washington Board of Directors approved the resolution which calls on the university to require professors to add “content warnings” before classroom discussions of “sensitive topics.”

The resolution recommends that instructors communicate “content warnings” before discussing “sexual assault, child abuse, physical assault, racially motivated violence, abuse, and suicide.”

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Additionally, the resolution recommends that instructors include a “content warning” in the course description, given to students when registering for classes.

The resolution also calls on the university to create a “formal method for students to submit complaints” if a professor brings up a sensitive topic but does not use a “content warning.” 

To keep professors accountable, the resolution recommends that a question is added to students end-of-semester teaching evaluations that ask “students whether content warnings were given before discussions/descriptions of sensitive topics.”

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The sponsor of the bill, Eva Hudak, told The Daily that she has seen professors show graphic images and conversations surrounding violence and assault without content warnings. 

“I deserve to be able to participate in discussions without having to deal with physical anxiety symptoms, and so does everybody else,” Hudak said.

One professor, Nicole McNichols, told The Daily that she tries to give content warnings for her psychology class discussions, but there are times where students “need to see shock.”

“I try to give full warning about the fact that there is sensitive content, and I make it clear that I’m showing it for educational purposes, that it is not there to try to shock or upset students in any way,” McNichols said. “Sometimes we need to see shock, sometimes the benefit of seeing something that might be sensitive in nature helps to overcome some of the taboos that we need to consider, at least with the topic of human sexuality.”

Senior Director of Media Relations Victor Balta told Campus Reform that “The administration does not typically weigh in on student resolutions.”

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