Ideally, an educational institution should operate under the guise that students must be able to think and fend for themselves.
But in today’s world, where every entitled and emotionally fragile kid who was guided by a helicopter parent and received a trophy for just their participation finds themselves presented with an unexpected view of the world, they somehow need a coddling environment known as a “Safe Space” where reality is filtered out.
To me, this became evident when I caught a Nov. 10 piece by the Washington Post that reported that a number of colleges and universities across the nation responded to the last Presidential Election by offering safe spaces for “distressed” students.
The “Safe Space” phenomenon seems to have become trendy at many educational institutions, and other areas, for anyone who finds a topic of the world too upsetting or when someone speaks out that could cause a trigger of an unhappy memory.
Thus, for someone who finds an incident or discussion upsetting, the academic world feels they are responsible to give those delicate beings on campus a place to recuperate. A room equipped with who-knows-what of cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and videos of frolicking puppies and playful kittens – a total unicorns and rainbows environment to keep these fragile hearts from being bombarded by any discomfiting or distressing viewpoints.
In today’s college campus safe place it has now become commonplace (with a silly amount of over compassion) that the notion of any disagreement, or conflicting viewpoint of any topic, somehow must be scrubbed clean of controversy or spreading.
Competition is frowned upon, feelings are validated, everyone likes you and you are shielded from difficult subject matters – alternative opinions, expression, and free speech be damned.
Unfortunately, those that question the notion for a “safe space” are automatically lumped into ranks of bigotry, racism, homophobia and sexism for simply inquiring about the need or voicing an anti-liberal opinion.
Case in point: last week it was reported that a Wisconsin college vice-president for student development called police after a Post-it note was found that criticized the detractors of President-elect Trump. The note, which read, “Suck it up pussies” with a winking smiling face emoji, was somehow viewed as a threat to students.
While police correctly dismissed the incident, the school set up a safe space for students to be free from what was deemed as “a targeted act of intimidation and cowardice.”
The ironic thing is the college itself called for a campaign by students to voice their feelings about the election and encouraged them to express their feelings with sticky notes about the campus. This one just happened to go against the grain.
While certain forms of discriminatory behavior are unacceptable and should certainly be banned from colleges, that’s not to say freedom of expression should be similarly restricted.
I would not want to see anyone prevented from expressing, in the proper setting, the view that all black people are criminals or women should be denied the vote, that gay relationships are morally unacceptable, and so on. In my opinion, those views are not just false, but hateful and shallow.
Still, I believe that if people hold such views, then they should be able to express their view. Some will not want to hear such views expressed, and it’s their right not to attend or just walk away from where they are likely to be aired.
But to implement a place to go to where you can “be protected” from such views seems over the top.
To me it seems it would be impossible to have any intellectual discussions, especially in an educational environment, if one is constantly conscious of expressing disagreement and saying anything that might hurt someone’s feelings.
And when feelings do get hurt from threatening words or current events, why the need for a sanitary “safe space?”
I have to wonder how these students are going to cope with the real world, which won’t worry one bit about their real or perceived traumas, delicate feelings and a need to be coddled when they get upset. There are very few safe spaces in the real world that simply doesn’t give a damn.
As the anonymous writer of the Wisconsin college Post-it note eloquently stated, “Suck it up…”
Richard Paloma is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.