Trigger incidents in college classrooms hit an all-time high in 2022, with over 4700 cases reported to school administrators by traumatized students. On Friday, the National Association of Higher Education Trauma Professionals (NAHETP) released its list of nominees for Most Bizarre Trigger Incident of 2022. Here are the finalists:
— At George Washington University, senior Carson Gramly was taking a midterm exam in American Politics when he looked up and saw the instructor using dental floss to remove a bit of pastrami that had gotten stuck between his teeth at lunch. Seeing the strand of floss reminded Gramly of a gorgeous female in a string bikini he had walked behind on a Fort Lauderdale beach during spring break of 2019. When he caught up with her and asked if she would be interested in “hooking up,” the woman howled with laughter and humiliated him in front of his friends.
For two months following the midterm exam, Gramly suffered from debilitating erectile dysfunction. His frustrated girlfriend broke up with him.
— At the first meeting of a Moravian Poetry seminar on the campus of Kansas State University, the instructor read aloud the name “Norton Tewksbury” from the class roll and looked around the room. Tewksbury, who was present, had an immediate flashback to a nightmare he experienced at the age of five. In the dream, a woolly mammoth resembling his grandmother roars his name just before devouring him.
Mr. Tewksbury, screaming “don’t eat me, Grammy, don’t eat me,” jumped up from his seat and attempted to exit the classroom through an open window. He was subdued and sedated by the NAHETP clinical psychology intern assigned to the course.
— When a Fairfield University professor said “Let’s take a close look at the syllabus” on the first day of Accounting Fundamentals, sophomore Melanie Slurv-Gaston mistakenly heard “syphilis” instead of “syllabus.” Slurv-Gaston, who for years had suffered from excessive ear wax, was instantly assaulted by memories from first grade at her conservative Catholic elementary school in Greenwich. It was there that Sister Clarice had lectured the class on the ravages of venereal disease, showing gruesome slides of end-stage patients with syphilis.
Now traumatized — again — in 2022, Ms. Slurv-Gaston passed out, hitting her head on the side of the desk and suffering a concussion.
— Minutes before the beginning of a Social Psychology class at Harvey Mudd College, the instructor scrunched up a piece of scrap paper into a ball and shot it, free-throw style, into a wastebasket approximately 10 feet away. Quentin Tarff, a freshman who observed the shot, was reminded of his unsuccessful 3-point attempt as the buzzer sounded at the end of California’s 2021 high school state championship basketball game. His team lost, 71-69, and he was shunned by students and faculty for the rest of the academic year.
Mr. Tarff dropped out of Harvey Mudd two days after that class session. He is currently unemployed and spends most of his time dribbling a partially deflated beach ball in the parking lot of a deserted shopping mall on the outskirts of Claremont.
The winner of the Most Bizarre Trigger Incident of 2022 will be announced by NAHETP in mid-February.