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Requiring “trigger warnings” and “safe places” creates an open-ended liability that can never be fully fulfilled [“Why students need trigger warnings and safe places,” Opinion, Aug. 30]. The motivation is honorable. The solution is not good.

No one can imagine every situation that might require the need of a trigger warning for someone else. Humans are too complicated and too varied. One person’s experience is so different from another that imagining everything that might cause another person harm is an impossibly high bar.

Providing safe places is admirable, but it is not possible to provide a safe place everywhere one is needed considering that it is impossible to imagine every situation where a safe place might be needed.

The result of creating a mandate for trigger warnings and safe places therefore creates an unlimited opportunity for conflict and abuse. It makes it harder to resolve such problems because if someone is accused of failing to provide a trigger warning, an adversarial situation is immediately created. Instead of spending energy on mitigating the problem, the energy is spent on fighting the accusation. It also creates a powerful censure on what anyone might say since just about anything might create a trigger problem for someone else. It flies in the face of liberal concepts of an open university.

A much better solution is to provide guidelines and education to everyone in the community for the potential of “trigger problems.” This should include how to reduce the chance a “trigger incident” occurs, how to manage trigger incidents for one’s self and how to discuss such incidents between parties to create understanding and compassion. These guidelines would help everyone understand the potential for a problem and reasonable cautions for how to avoid many such incidents. Using the good judgment of everyone involved would reduce the problem but, of course, wouldn’t eliminate it.

Not every issue is solvable with a new set of rules or laws. Sometimes the best one can achieve is accepting the good sense of everyone involved to do the best they can for themselves and those around them.

Steve Rolfe, Bellevue