I'm finishing up the next section of the imaginary reading list (see below), but in the meantime...
1. At Crooked Timber, Harry Brighouse asks about disclosure policies: when you are discussing provocative/loaded/ideologically potent/etc. material, what do you say about your own positions? This really is one of those questions, as some of the commenters point out, for which the answer depends on any number of contingent factors--course level, topics, pedagogical method, student demographics, and so forth. My courses usually don't skew to the intensely political (OK, they pretty much don't skew that way at all, unless the text calls for it), but I do spend a lot of time a) talking about Christianity and b) expecting the students to take Christianity, and religion in general, seriously. To that end, I do disclose that I'm Jewish, for two reasons: 1) to assure students that I'm not proselytizing and 2) to model how to be serious about a belief system that isn't yours. (Before you say, "Um, you've got the most Jewish name, like, ever, so surely they've already guessed," I will point out that quite a few people in this region have never met a Jew that they're aware of--although there's a big Jewish community in the closest city of any size--and couldn't recognize a classically Ashkenazic name if they saw it dancing the hora while noshing on latkes. My Jewishness is absolutely not obvious to all of my students, or even the staff.)
2. Help, the trigger warnings debate. The comments sections at various sites seem to be collapsing "triggering" material and "offensive" material, which may be the nature of the beast--material we often understand to be triggering is offensive or upsetting, but someone offended or upset is not necessarily triggered. Any university policy would have to disentangle the two. (The Oberlin policy, in the first link, does in fact try to define "trigger" so as to exclude "offended.") However, when I taught Pan's Labyrinth, I gave advance warning about a couple of specific scenes for students who might not be able to handle extremely graphic violence or gore (which is something I have a problem with myself--let's just say I'm not in the market to teach a course on horror films any time soon), and that pretty much was a trigger warning without the word "trigger" attached. Reading through the various posts, I find myself mostly coming down on the side of those who hold that it's not paternalistic to allow students to make an informed decision about how they want to handle material that is not difficult, challenging, or offensive, but that instead genuinely causes them serious mental harm. It would be paternalistic to design a syllabus that had nothing that might be triggering on it (not so thrilled with Oberlin's direction there...), or to insist that there is only one way to experience and process trauma, or to force a student to accept what to them appears to be an inappropriate or relatively useless form of assistance. These issues are certainly something to be mindful of, whether or not there's a call for an official policy.
That being said, Tressie McMillan Cottom raises an important caveat:
Trigger warnings make sense on platforms where troubling information can be foisted upon you without prior knowledge, as in the case of retweets. Those platforms are in the business of messaging and amplification.
That is an odd business for higher education to be in…unless the business of higher education is now officially business.
Dr. Cottom's point, if I understand her correctly, is at least twofold: first, the trigger warning in social media contexts provides some semblance of an opt-out mechanism in an explicitly corporatized environment (no, thanks, I don't want to buy this horrific thing you're selling) that depends on material being disseminated as widely as possible by the user base. (Tumblr would be another good example.) Retweeting, reblogging, and favoriting can be performed critically (a favorite that is designed to mark a place rather than show approval, a retweet intended ironically, and so on), but they are often simple "thumbs up" votes--a moment of applause intended to spread opportunities for further applause. Which is, as she says, part of the business platform. But, second, we assume that the college student has opted in to exposure to potentially disturbing material--the purpose of an education is not to applaud, nor to favorite, nor to please, but, in large part, to challenge. The trigger warning is a "business" warning because it assumes that students can and should opt out when faced with distressing texts or other media; it prioritizes, as she says earlier, "the student-customer." Not least because "no one is arguing for trigger warnings in the routine spaces where symbolic and structural violence are acted on students at the margins." The spaces, that is, where there is no opt-out.