Simone Jacobs/Sun Contributor

The Student Assembly discussed Resolution 31 and Resolution 32 in Willard Straight Hall.

March 27, 2023

Student Assembly Passes Resolution Urging University to Mandate Content Warnings in Classroom, Heated Discussion of Slating for Upcoming Elections

Print More

On Thursday, the Student Assembly passed Resolution 31: Mandating Content Warnings for Traumatic Content in the Classroom and debated Resolution 32, a proposal that amended election rules made in Resolution 29: Amendments to Election Rules for Spring 2023, which was passed in the previous meeting. 

Resolution 31, presented by Claire Ting ’25, School of Industrial and Labor Relations representative, and Shelby Williams ’25, a College of Arts and Sciences representative, urges University officials to require instructors to provide enough advance notice for students if they intend to show graphic or traumatic content that may trigger symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder in the classroom. Moreover, it would make sure that students can opt out of exposure to such content without being penalized. 

According to Ting, the traumatic content refers to anything that might be graphic, violent or tends to incite traumatic memories for individuals that have been affected.

“The intention of this resolution is not to censor or restrict academic freedom in any way, shape or form,” Ting said. “But rather to allow for more empathy and sensitivity for students who need it most in the classroom.”

Williams provided a personal anecdote as to why she was particularly invested in sponsoring this resolution. 

“I was in a class in the fall… we were discussing moral outrage on social media platforms. This is a 9:40 a.m. class, and without warning, without previous indication, my professor showed a picture in our lecture slide of former police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck,” Williams said. “Now, I think we can all agree it’s all reprehensible to show a violent, graphic killing without warning as academic content.” 

Jack Kalinski ’24, a College of Arts and Sciences representative, supported passing this resolution, noting the importance it has while questioning the timeline of when warnings would be put into place. 

“I think it’s imperative to list it in the syllabus… I think that potentially having some type of warning on the actual blurb that appears on the website when you are enrolling in courses,” Williams said. “Many professors [can add to this by putting it on] the campus calendar and what lecture is appearing that day.” 

According to Ting, while the specific details still need to be worked out, even an advance notice via email from professors would be beneficial to students. 

Karys Everett ’25, LGBTQIA+ liaison at-large, shared a similar story to Williams, explaining that on the first day of classes, a professor showed intense and violent images of African Americans being beaten and tortured by police, with no prior warning to students. 

Everett asked about how students would be ensured that they would not be penalized for not missing the classes that would entail triggering content. 

According to Williams, though this resolution is coming to the S.A. now, the implementation of these practices are more long-term. 

“I think this is more of a statement at this moment, hoping to incite some action with greater susceptibility,” Williams said. 

After receiving no pushback, the resolution was passed unanimously. 

Following this, Pedro Da Silveira ’25, vice president of internal operations, and Freshman Representative Andrew Richmond ’25 presented Resolution 32. The resolution aimed to correct a technical issue within Resolution 29, which added slating to the election rules and passed during last week’s meeting.

However, many members of the Student Assembly who were opposed to Resolution 29 — or more specifically, opposed to slating — spoke up to go back to Resolution 29’s original format that did not include slating, as they said it can create a toxic environment. 

“Slating of an entire group of people can lead to cliques of people and political parties and it becomes difficult for others to even run,” said Naveen Sharma ’24, chair of office of ethics. 

Amari Jordan Lampert ’24, vice president of the S.A., made an amendment to eliminate the new slating rule added in Resolution 29. This passed, changing Resolution 29 to its original format that did not include slating. Da Silveira motioned to withdraw Resolution 32, and it was passed. 

Gabriella Pacitto ’24 is a News Editor for the 141st editorial board and can be reached at [email protected].

Melanie Schwartz ’25 is a Sun contributor and can be reached at [email protected].

Correction, March 30, 2 p.m.: A previous version of this article did not clearly indicate that Resolution 31 urges the University to require content warnings — the resolution itself does not mandate professors to do so. The Sun regrets this error, and the article and headline have been updated for clarity.