Trigger Warnings: A Threat to Academia and Freedom?

Not really.

A recent article by The New York Times explains in detail how and why so many academics are infuriated at policies that call for requiring trigger warnings on syllabi. To give you an example of the issue: Bailey Loverin, a sophomore in the UC system, approached a professor after her class viewed a graphic film depicting rape. As a survivor of sexual assault, Loverin requested that all students be alerted to graphic content in advance of a class discussion, so they might absent themselves from possible trauma. The issue has now broadened into a campuses-across-the-country campaign, with students calling for trigger warnings on potentially offensive literature and non-fiction texts alike. And the professors are incensed. 

As always, people that are relatively unaffected by trauma do not seem to understand the dynamics nor the implications of what certain “topics of study” do to certain individuals. Academia as an institution is not very user-friendly, come to think of it. Odd, considering that higher-learning institutions are supposed to bring up all our world leaders. The community is so cloistered that intellectuals are pre-prescribed in a sense – it is hard to “work up”in academia, and once you reach the top of the ladder there's little mobility. Therefore the view from the top, in my opinion, can be a little obscured. Lacking perspective, teachers can be insensitive to how fraught material affects their (much younger and much less empowered) students. 

Trigger warnings are designed to attack this notion. Their presence in the classroom would allow for more students to feel comfortable while studying certain topics, such as race or gender-based violence. A trigger warning lets students know in advance what it is that they are dealing with, while it gives them an automatic support system; according to the unspoken principles of the trigger warnings, no one will judge them if they are reading a very graphic article in class and need to leave the room for a few minutes.

Trigger warnings themselves are not a threat to anything – they are a courtesy. However, what seems to be a threat to academia is acknowledging the fact that not all students are at the same place, in every sense of the word. As such, different students require different accommodations. 

On an arch level, conversations about how “appropriate” it is to even be having these debates are all over the internet. Most op-eds suggest that trigger warnings are more applicable to places that critically address mental health (like, let’s say, a counseling group) and not, presumably,  the institutions one encounters in everyday life. This Mother Jones piece actually suggests that trigger warnings can be harmful to students, presumably because ample warnings won't toughen ‘em up and get ‘em ready for the real world. Furthermore, other teachers and students are asking: what is the end game? What is the point of the “trigger warning movement?” 

First and foremost –I’d like to address the optics of activism and how maybe “end games” are beside the point in this instance. When – generally speaking – the end game revolves around getting a policy changed, one can conclude that the end game is not necessarily going to dramatically change the dominant culture. This is because policies (especially on a university level) are not necessarily reflective of greater society but rather reflective of the oppressive powers at hand. Read: the university. 

Secondly, let’s talk about freedom. Let’s talk about this little thing that people like to bring up when they talk about Freedom of Speech – they say, "there’s no Freedom to not get offended!" Lol!! Okay. True. However, Freedom of Speech is only effectively granted to a select tier in this country. Considering that these professors are “terrified” (a literal quote from the NYT article) about the integration of trigger warnings onto the syllabi should tell you something; namely, that professors have a skewed definition of a word which their students might have a very different understanding of. And I'm not talking about “getting offended,” I'm talking about psychological trauma. 

In short, critics believe that being nice to people and respecting their boundaries is a TERRIBLE IDEA. What do you think? 

Photo via The Atlantic of HBO's "Trigger Warnings."

Tina Fey, Amy Schumer, Courtney Love, and More Say "Happy Birthday, BUST!"

If you haven't seen this, you're seriously missing out.

 Tina Fey wants YOU to watch this video. 

A bunch of BUST's homies (including the aforementioned Amy, Amanda, and Courtney) sent us adorbs birthday wishes, and we simply couldn't resist sharing it with you:

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Which one's your favorite? (I can't choose.)

Pssssssst: only a small number of tickets remain for Thursday's party! Don't miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime shindig, which features performances from Julie KlausnerCibo Matto, Har Mar Superstar, Awkwafina, JD Samson, Jessi Klein, Vanessa Bayer, Broad City, Murray Hill, Amber Tamblyn and David Cross.

Plus, we're presenting awards to Kathleen Hanna, Gloria Steinem, Lizz Winstead, and Jean Grae...and throwing in a post-show dance party DJed by Jonathan Toubin

AND WAIT. THERE'S MORE. Free cupcakes and goody bags for the first 350 guests!

Why? Why NOT?

See you there!



The BUST Spring Craftacular!

If you’ve never been to DUMBO, let me paint a picture for you. Giant warehouses/apartments along the water’s edge, with million dollar views of Manhattan, surrounded by cobble-stoned streets and well, quite a few potholes. Throw in over 120 craft, vintage and food vendors and you had yourself the BUST Spring Craftacular and Food Fair, which set fire to Brooklyn on May 4th

Not a cloud was in sight as the excited vendors began setting up their wares.

An hour before opening time, the line for the free (and awesome!) swag bags starting forming, with BUST fans eager to get their paws on such gems as Brooklyn Charm pieces, Hunx and His Punx albums and super-cute crocheted chimp beanies from MailChimp. Well worth the wait!

Come 11am, the vendors were ready to share their wares with the eager crowd. 

Sweet Kili-kili Workshop sold an explosion of cute bows, ribbons, flowers, and colorful accessories.

Wish Upon A Press covered all of our pressing needs (haha) for artisanal cards and bunting. 

The Pink Samurai pleased crowds with her unique crocheted wares.

The Chocolate Swirl was also a crowd favorite, giving everyone a sugar high with their yummy treats!

Metal Sugar provided the cutest pieces of jewellery and the cutest dog, Bosco, as well!

Under the Manhattan Bridge Archway, more top-quality vendors set up shop.

The Archway was also party central thanks to the Onkyo DJ Booth. DJs Vanessa Bley of Space Camp Radio, Beast Patrol and Ariel Agai of Onequalstwo and Pedal Power NYC played non-stop tunes for seven hours.

The vendors in the Archway were so diverse, ranging from hip underwear from Ken Wroy to unique wax-casted pieces from Goldengrove.

Charity foundation Bugsella sold organic onesies to raise proceeds for Hurricane Sandy relief.

Juli Raja was on hand to fit the cool BUST boys with hand-built cotton shirts.

The cutest pillows you've ever seen were over at in the seam.


All that browsing built up a mighty thirst and appetite, and luckily there were plenty of stalls to satisfy the crowd’s nutritional needs. The line never died down over at Mamu Thai Noodle, where many a happy customer enjoyed some noodles from Thailand. 

Red Jacket Orchards provided delicious juices, including a strawberry and apple number that was to die for. 

Shopping and eating weren't the only things on the menu at the Craftacular - you could also learn a new skill! The lovely ladies at Twig Terrariums taught an eager crowd how to make their own terrarium masterpieces.

Crafters could also learn shoe making with Simple Shoemaking, embroidery with Miniature Rhino, charm necklace making with Brooklyn Charm, loom weaving with Textile Arts Center and needlepoint with Make Workshop. Phew!

BUSTies Sam, Emily and Kandie.

Little Crafters didn't miss out on the fun, with their own MailChimp craft area where Mother's Day cards, drawing, and general mess-making all took place.

All in all, the day couldn't have been such a success without the hard work of all BUST staff, interns, and volunteers (thanks Brandee!).

BUSTies Lauren and Maggie.

Please join us in the fall for our next Craftacular! 


We'd like to extend special thanks to our sponsors:


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The 2013 BUST Magazine Spring Craftacular and Food Fair @ DUMBO was also sponsored in part by:

 LESGirlsClubLogo     Village Voice Logo lowres


Wrapped in Plastic, NOT Fantastic.


TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together.  They are currently all about their REFUSE campaign regarding the Great Pacific garbage patch disaster.  It's so easy to just throw our plastic bags away, throw anything away really and not think about where the stuff is going.  We NEED to think about it!  Our trash is killing everything. ARGHHHH!!!


In the past few years, the world has taken notice of the Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean, a gyre of trash estimated to be at a minimum the size of the state of Texas and possibly as large at the United States. 90% of this trash patch is comprised of plastic.


The REFUSE Campaign is urging all of us to remember to follow the four R's :

Refuse- Say NO to single-use / disposable plastics! Take your tote bags to the store!

Reduce- Buy in bulk, avoid plastic packaging and containers, and look for products and packaging made from renewable resources.

Reuse- Reuse containers made out of glass and stainless steel (these are nontoxic).

Recycle- Recycle what you can't refuse, reduce or reuse.  Recycling is a last option because it uses energy.


Watch this video for the REFUSE campaign ----

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCumZMU1y4E 425x344]


photo credits: www.patagonia-under-siege.blogspot.com