Isn’t sending out campus-wide alerts with trigger warnings in them slightly counterproductive?

They seem more interested in maintaining a ‘safe space’ than keeping students physically safe

Last night was lively if you work for the University of Iowa Police. Instead of contenting yourself with wagging a finger at grown adults for crushing Keystones or confiscating flimsy fake IDs, you actually had a real bit of crime on your hands.

At around 9 PM last night, a girl in a freshman dorm, Burge, realized she was being filmed in the shower by an intruder. The building was chaos from 11 onwards as officers fervently searched for the Peeping Tom.

Our alert and diligent Tab team broke the story before anyone else at around 1 AM after speaking to eyewitnesses and separating rumor from fact. They contacted the police press office repeatedly throughout the morning for an official statement, to further verify their findings.

Confirmation finally did come – in the form of Hawk Alert, their campus alert system, over 14 hours after the incident and 13 after police arrived at the scene. They emailed and texted every student on campus a record of what had occurred. And their message began:

Trigger Warning: This warning addresses a report of sexual misconduct. Resources are available on and off campus to provide assistance. Contact RVAP for 24/7 support at (319) 335-6000 or at

While I’m confused that it took the police over half a day to alert the students to a crime, what’s even more baffling is their decision to begin a campus-wide communique about an important active investigation with a phrase whose linguistic purpose is to stop certain people reading. Specifically – to stop people reading who might be offended or traumatized by sexual misconduct, who you’d think would want to be particularly alert about this sort of thing.

If there was a miscreant with an iPhone skulking around my campus trying to perve on unsuspecting freshmen, I’d want to know about it. I’d want to know my campus police force are working to keep me physically safe – not warning me off important information for fear of offending me.

If an email about an active investigation is important enough to send to a whole college, don’t send it wrapped in cotton wool. If people need to know, tell them.