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UA students request trigger warnings for alert system

University of Arkansas students are requesting trigger warnings for campus alerts that are graphic.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — University of Arkansas students are looking for a better solution to university alerts that could trigger trauma for some. 

On Monday, Nov. 1, students received an alert that they say was alarming. In the past seven months, the University of Arkansas Police Department (UAPD) sent out eight different campus alerts with four of them involving an assault. 

“Last Monday we had a notification from the University of Arkansas Police Department over by Martin Luther King Boulevard and the notification was alarming,” said U of A student body president, Coleman Warren.

Students are asking UAPD to change the messaging that students say is triggering and causing harm. They are requesting a trigger warning for reports sent with graphic details to serve as a buffer to help those who have previous experiences with violent crimes like sexual assault. Students say this will protect them from revictimization.

UAPD says the department is looking to make the most inclusive decision.

“The university is working really hard to be inclusive and if there’s a segment of the population that could concern or bothered by the information about to see or causing a distress then we want to be aware of that or cause someone to go down that road,” said Officer Michael Oakes with UAPD.

This proposal for a trigger warning has a controversial side to it. UAPD officials say a question it's looking to answer through thorough discussion is if trigger warnings are effective.

“Some people say trigger warnings don’t work, some people say the warning itself triggers a person and some say it’s a good idea to have them. It has opened up a discussion among the group that actually oversees these alerts,” said Officer Gary Crain, public information officer for UAPD.

Students said it’s more about minimizing harm to protect university students and less about effectiveness.

“And whenever I’ve talked about it to different students it’s been an overwhelmingly positive response to implement trigger warnings. And what I would say is that the literature is mixed but the student perspective on this is not,” Warren said.

This is the first time since the beginning of this alert system that the department has received a suggestion like this one and they say it's an ongoing discussion.

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