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Safe Spaces on Campus and Otherwise- Do we make them?


TranquilMind
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Interesting Article about safe spaces, on campus and otherwise.

 

WITHOUT discussing any specific political views, parties, or candidates please, let's discuss the idea itself of "safe spaces" and whether we do feel compelled to create them for ourselves in society and what they should look like on campuses, if they should exist.  

 

This Rolling Stone article suggests that basically that everyone creates their own safe space, not just kids on campuses.  I think the writer sells Americans short in some ways, but perhaps there is some truth there. 

 

Undoubtedly, we all consider our homes to be "safe spaces", where we can be ourselves.  We choose to marry people who share our beliefs, not those who denigrate and demean them.  Home should be a safe space from which we and our children can venture out into the larger, less safe world.  Our house is one of politically aware and interested people. We have been having debates since before we had kids and with kids since our kids could talk.  Sometimes we would have an hours long discussion in the van while driving somewhere.  This is normal for us.  We don't silence various political viewpoints in our home.  Gee, I had debates with my own parents on a regular basis, back in the day.   We don't silence dissent but we will confront those silencing it head on when we see it - if it is physically safe to do so, of course.  These days, you never know. 

 

 

I think we all share our values with our kids, but we do them a disservice if we don't share with them the various viewpoints they will encounter, and the rationales behind those viewpoints. 

 

There is an incident shared in the article where some kids at a few different universities earlier this year found some chalk messages written around campus promoting a candidate they disliked.  They called the police and said the messages "made them feel unsafe".  Chalk messages....hello?  They go away with the next rain.  Isn't that overkill? 

 

This article contends that people basically want and create safe spaces around them all the time, not just on campus. Anyone who really wants to get a view of what is happening out there certainly knows to check sources biased in ways opposite of existing viewpoints if something closer to a complete picture is desired.  I guess I know few of those people who will only watch and listen to and read certain views. 

 

From the article:

 

"Consumers on both sides don't like pundits whose views are all over the place. They want white hats and black hats, allies and enemies, even though in real life most people are not wholly one thing or another. And when one of the performers steps off-script, it's a "problem."

 

To me this is consumerism, not political correctness. Capitalism in this country has become so awesomely efficient at target-scratching every conceivable consumer itch that it's raised a generation of people with no tolerance for discomfort, particularly the intellectual kind.

 

There are so many products available now that customers have learned to demand that every single purchase choice they make be perfectly satisfying. People want nacho chips that taste awesome every time, and they want pundits who agree with them every time. They don't want to fork over time or money to be told they're wrong or uninformed any more than they want to eat a salad."

 

 
Another article mentions that people need safe spaces to be with those like themselves, but I think he is talking about something else.  He mentions that certain students felt comfortable at the Catholic House or the Hillel House or the Black house (there was a movement to change that one), but I think that makes sense.   That isn't suppressing other views which you find distasteful, that is merely joining together at times with people with similar cultural backgrounds and experiences. 

 

 

Anyway, is it your experience that people feel compelled to surround themselves or "consume" only that which totally affirms their preexisting ideas?  Should colleges have safe spaces and what should this mean?   

 

Equal Opportunity thread - all views are welcome. 

 

 

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I mostly disagree with the idea of safe spaces. Rather, I disagree with the idea that public areas must be "safe places." My home is a safe place for our family, but I can't expect that every person I meet while out in the real world is only going to express beliefs similar to mine.

 

I think this idea of "safe spaces" is just a way to shut down opposing viewpoints. And I don't think that's healthy. People need to know how to respectfully discuss ideas and beliefs with others and recognize that other people's life experiences affect their beliefs and opinions.

 

ETA: I suppose I was responding specifically about the incident where a student felt threatened by chalk messages about a political candidate.

Edited by DesertBlossom
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I think one can support some safe spaces - every campus I have ever been on has a queer room, for example - without buying into the idea that philosophical or intellectual safety must be guaranteed. 

 

I see safe rooms as places to retreat and gather oneself in order to  re-engage with the outside world, not places to live. Kwim ?

 

Using your example of the queer room, that's not just for people to retreat for a bit of time out, that's a place to build identity for people who haven't had peers or role models earlier in their life. Sure, most go through an angry phase, but they grow out of it.

 

We used to have a friend who had a very strong identity as a gay person, but an under developed male identity because he really hadn't know many men. It was an interesting pov to learn about. Neither have I, but the consequences of that are very different since I'm not male.

 

 

I think the public arena should be free from hate speech, but there is a whole lot of difference and disagreement to interact with (or ignore) before one crosses that line. No one has the right to make the public arena their personal bubble. 

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I mostly disagree with the idea of safe spaces. Rather, I disagree with the idea that public areas must be "safe places." My home is a safe place for our family, but I can't expect that every person I meet while out in the real world is only going to express beliefs similar to mine.

 

I think this idea of "safe spaces" is just a way to shut down opposing viewpoints. And I don't think that's healthy. People need to know how to respectfully discuss ideas and beliefs with others and recognize that other people's life experiences affect their beliefs and opinions.

 

ETA: I suppose I was responding specifically about the incident where a student felt threatened by chalk messages about a political candidate.

 

 

 

I think the public arena should be free from hate speech, but there is a whole lot of difference and disagreement to interact with (or ignore) before one crosses that line. No one has the right to make the public arena their personal bubble. 

 

 

:iagree:

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I would hope that any campus is a space where all persons can feel physically safe. Violence and hate speech should not be tolerated.

I disagree, however, with creating "safe spaces" from ideas, especially on a college campus. College should not be an echo chamber; the young people should encounter and freely discuss different viewpoints and be confronted with uncomfortable ideas. It is the responsibility of the school to facilitate this exchange while ensuring the actual safety of its students.

It is a very difficult line to walk. Language that is threatening to subgroups is not OK. Forcing survivors of serious trauma to relive their trauma should be avoided. But catering to every tender sensitivity by coddling students and sheltering them from anything that does not agree with their perception is wrong, too and misses a big piece of what education is about. Canceling speakers because they hold unpopular opinions or removing books from book lists because they deal with difficult experiences is censorship.

 

Related is the issue of trigger warnings. A friend of mine who is a professor for film prefers the term "content advisory", which I like much better.

 

 

 

 

Edited by regentrude
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I think one can support some safe spaces - every campus I have ever been on has a queer room, for example - without buying into the idea that philosophical or intellectual safety must be guaranteed.

 

Lectures, tutorials, speeches must be open to a multitude of ideas. Even ideas and expressions of those ideas we dislike (so long as those ideas and expressions remain within the law).

 

I see safe rooms as places to retreat and gather oneself in order to re-engage with the outside world, not places to live. Kwim ?

 

It goes without saying that students should have an expectation of physical safety, as well as some emotional safety. Although that's where it gets messy...

 

Keep in mind, too - I'm educated, white, cisgendered, straight - my ideas on safety on campus come from the perspective of being relatively privileged on campus.

Sadie, Don't you think this may fall into the second example? Just gathering together with people like you, rather than as an attempt to silence speech?

 

I don't know. I should have distilled the idea better before posting that long, long post.

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I mostly disagree with the idea of safe spaces. Rather, I disagree with the idea that public areas must be "safe places." My home is a safe place for our family, but I can't expect that every person I meet while out in the real world is only going to express beliefs similar to mine.

 

I think this idea of "safe spaces" is just a way to shut down opposing viewpoints. And I don't think that's healthy. People need to know how to respectfully discuss ideas and beliefs with others and recognize that other people's life experiences affect their beliefs and opinions.

 

ETA: I suppose I was responding specifically about the incident where a student felt threatened by chalk messages about a political candidate.

I agree. I think my house is a safe space - and that everyone should be physically safe, of course- but that trying to sanitize your environment in the public sphere from viewpoints you dislike is over the top ridiculous.

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Using your example of the queer room, that's not just for people to retreat for a bit of time out, that's a place to build identity for people who haven't had peers or role models earlier in their life. Sure, most go through an angry phase, but they grow out of it.

 

We used to have a friend who had a very strong identity as a gay person, but an under developed male identity because he really hadn't know many men. It was an interesting pov to learn about. Neither have I, but the consequences of that are very different since I'm not male.

 

 

I think the public arena should be free from hate speech, but there is a whole lot of difference and disagreement to interact with (or ignore) before one crosses that line. No one has the right to make the public arena their personal bubble.

This.

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I would hope that any campus is a space where all persons can feel physically safe. Violence and hate speech should not be tolerated.

I disagree, however, with creating "safe spaces" from ideas, especially on a college campus. College should not be an echo chamber; the young people should encounter and freely discuss different viewpoints and be confronted with uncomfortable ideas. It is the responsibility of the school to facilitate this exchange while ensuring the actual safety of its students.

It is a very difficult line to walk. Language that is threatening to subgroups is not OK. Forcing survivors of serious trauma to relive their trauma should be avoided. But catering to every tender sensitivity by coddling students and sheltering them from anything that does not agree with their perception is wrong, too and misses a big piece of what education is about. Canceling speakers because they hold unpopular opinions or removing books from book lists because they deal with difficult experiences is censorship.

 

Related is the issue of trigger warnings. A friend of mine who is a professor for film prefers the term "content advisory", which I like much better.

Who decides what language is "threatening to subgroups"'. Of course something like "All x should be kicked off campus/die/bad result" is perceived as threatening.

 

But above, kids called the cops because of pro-political candidate chalk messages written around campus! Words that are not of the "I will cut you"'variety are not threatening. Speakers who say words with which you disagree are not threatening you.

 

Don't people have their own trigger warnings, if one does want to use that term? If some awful image comes on my screen or at a movie or someone begins speaking about some awful thing that brings memories, I am out of there.

 

Of course. It is stickier when it is an assigned book. But I have skipped passages I simply could not read You can get the gist of what happened by skimming.

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I think that our homes are safe places, but that there shouldn't be "official" safe places out in public because it always includes (ironically) excluding someone else that is different and makes us fee "unsafe." 

 

To me, "I need a safe place (which excludes you)" is a politically correct way of saying, "I want my personal bigotry, prejudice and hate accommodated."

 

Assuming physical safety of all, of course, I agree with you. 

 

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One of the instances of chalk messages was portrayed differently by a friend of mine who works for the school. The messages were written in specific locations that made people feel threatened. In front of some kind of Hispanic student association, an LGBT friendly location, etc. Targeted locations. That didn't come out in any of the articles I saw.

 

Generally I would think people being outraged by a politician's name in chalk is ridiculous. But this is a very weird year. If someone wrote a senate candidate's name (hypothetically, ahem) who is strongly associated with the KKK all around the Black Student Associations on campuses, I can see that being interpreted as targeted hate speech.

Edited by zoobie
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I think one can support some safe spaces - every campus I have ever been on has a queer room, for example - without buying into the idea that philosophical or intellectual safety must be guaranteed. 

 

Lectures, tutorials, speeches must be open to a multitude of ideas. Even ideas and expressions of those ideas we dislike (so long as those ideas and expressions remain within the law). 

 

I see safe rooms as places to retreat and gather oneself in order to  re-engage with the outside world, not places to live. Kwim ?

 

It goes without saying that students should have an expectation of physical safety, as well as some emotional safety. Although that's where it gets messy...

 

Keep in mind, too - I'm educated, white, cisgendered, straight - my ideas on safety on campus come from the perspective of being relatively privileged on campus. 

 

I agree with all this. Having a safe space *is* super important. So is not living in an echo chamber. These things are not necessarily at odds with each other.

 

When kids are away at college, they lose their homes. If you move into a dorm, you often don't have your own bathroom, your own room. You spend most of your time in public spaces - common rooms, libraries, cafeterias, student unions, etc. When you're at an age when you're figuring out your identity on a number of levels, I think it's fair to want spaces that support that. I think with the internet and the rise of online harassment, on campuses, it's just so easy to translate that into action where people show up at meetings, put harassing notices on specific doors, etc. That's not encouraging the flow of ideas on any side. Trying to keep classrooms and media like student papers and public spaces that are for protests all available for free speech while allowing student groups to establish other places that are "safe" seems like a way to try and get balance.

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I agree with all this. Having a safe space *is* super important. So is not living in an echo chamber. These things are not necessarily at odds with each other.

 

When kids are away at college, they lose their homes. If you move into a dorm, you often don't have your own bathroom, your own room. You spend most of your time in public spaces - common rooms, libraries, cafeterias, student unions, etc. When you're at an age when you're figuring out your identity on a number of levels, I think it's fair to want spaces that support that. I think with the internet and the rise of online harassment, on campuses, it's just so easy to translate that into action where people show up at meetings, put harassing notices on specific doors, etc. That's not encouraging the flow of ideas on any side. Trying to keep classrooms and media like student papers and public spaces that are for protests all available for free speech while allowing student groups to establish other places that are "safe" seems like a way to try and get balance.

 

So you find spaces, groups, places, campus organizations to support that.  Isn't that on you to do that, as the student?

 

I guess I think that if you are old enough to move onto campus, you are old enough to manage your social environment.  My kids were (and they are on various ends of the political spectrum). 

 

I lived in my own apartment inside a private home near the university.  I already knew that I was introverted and didn't want to be with people 24/7, so I created an environment that would work for me (not for political reasons, but because I need my own space!). 

 

I realize that some universities make you live on campus for awhile now, but I just would not have done that.  Know thyself, I guess. 

 

Edited by TranquilMind
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So you find spaces, groups, places, campus organizations to support that.  Isn't that on you to do that, as the student?

 

I guess I think that if you are old enough to move onto campus, you are old enough to manage your social environment.  My kids were (and they are on various ends of the political spectrum). 

 

 

It's on the student to participate or not, of course. You're on your own, you have to find your own safe spaces or shell out the cash for a single dorm room or luck into a good roommate situation or something. But colleges and universities are often insular places. If the spaces aren't provided by the institution, where do they exist? Certainly, if there had been no African American House or LGBTQ Room at my college campus, there would have been literally nowhere else for it to be. There was only the smatterings of a town around the school I attended. Rents for spaces were absurdly high. And realistically, colleges and universities use spaces like that to attract students they want.

 

I don't get why the college setting up such spaces or allowing the student government to allocate them or something along those lines is at odds with students managing their own social environment. If you don't want to use those spaces for this or that aspect of your identity, then don't.

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College students are, for the most part, still quite young. I don't know about you, but when I was 18 I had only a fleeting acquaintance with the concept of nuance... and this is one area where I think I might actually be normal.

 

So they're young, they're attempting to work out the adult world for themselves and come up with norms that work for them - and sure, sometimes they overstep a little. They're a little over-earnest. So what? In ten years they'll have settled down into something that works for them and also has room for a bit of nuance, and then we'll be railing about whatever stupid thing the new crop of freshmen are doing on campus.

 

(Man, I'm so glad nobody could possibly insult my generation when we were that age! Oh, wait....)

 

Seriously, though, talking about how stupid college kids are is a national pastime. A boring national pastime. They were doing it since my grandfather's day.

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"Consumers on both sides don't like pundits whose views are all over the place. They want white hats and black hats, allies and enemies, even though in real life most people are not wholly one thing or another. And when one of the performers steps off-script, it's a "problem."

To me this is consumerism, not political correctness. Capitalism in this country has become so awesomely efficient at target-scratching every conceivable consumer itch that it's raised a generation of people with no tolerance for discomfort, particularly the intellectual kind.

There are so many products available now that customers have learned to demand that every single purchase choice they make be perfectly satisfying. People want nacho chips that taste awesome every time, and they want pundits who agree with them every time. They don't want to fork over time or money to be told they're wrong or uninformed any more than they want to eat a salad."

 

The author makes a good point here. If we do not take care to look at multiple news sources from different Pov then it's easy to miss issues or get such a slanted view that we have trouble empathizing with others. That is very evident in this current election season.

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I don't understand or agree with the argument that the colleges need to form houses or whatever as safe places for these students. The students can (or should) be able to freely associate with others without such help from the school.

 

And they tend to naturally do so in all other aspects.

 

The German club meets at a coffee house.

 

The medieval history club meets wherever they decide to meet.

 

The pilots gather to meet.

 

The Catholics meet up at the campus parish or other places.

 

I see no reason why any other desired demographic subcategory can't do the same.

 

A college campus should not be so insular as some here suggest as the default. I don't feel my sons' state college is so insular as described here.

 

And while I do believe we all seek "safe places" in our private lives, such as within our homes and in the relationships we choose, I have not taught any of my children to ever expect it outside our home. My adult/college kids think the concept is ridiculous. They don't live on campus. They have their own apartment. But they are active socially on campus and still don't expect any such thing as safe places.

 

And it's not an accurate description. Because it's not really "safe" for everyone, just those who agree with each other.

Edited by Murphy101
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I do agree with safe spaces to an extent. I believe that terminology was specifically discussing college campuses. Many students at a college campus do not live anywhere near their "home" and their dorms are a bit small for gatherings.

 

 I do think it is reasonable to have areas set aside that are safe spaces and free from hate speech and bigotry. I would think anyone could gather in those places. 

 

To me "safe space," implies people are not allowed to be nasty jerks there. I think with things being particularly bad during this election if I was a college student I would be happy that such a place was available.

 

I don't think that should include the entire campus. I agree that I do not feel that anyone should feel that they can make the public their personal bubble.

Edited by Slartibartfast
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I think that our homes are safe places, but that there shouldn't be "official" safe places out in public because it always includes (ironically) excluding someone else that is different and makes us fee "unsafe." 

 

To me, "I need a safe place (which excludes you)" is a politically correct way of saying, "I want my personal bigotry, prejudice and hate accommodated."

 

Who is it excluding?

 

I don't think it was excluding *people* just certain speech. If someone is a racist I actually don't care if they feel excluded because they can't go on racist tangents in a certain area that is designated to be, "safe." 

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College students are, for the most part, still quite young. I don't know about you, but when I was 18 I had only a fleeting acquaintance with the concept of nuance... and this is one area where I think I might actually be normal.

 

So they're young, they're attempting to work out the adult world for themselves and come up with norms that work for them - and sure, sometimes they overstep a little. They're a little over-earnest. So what? In ten years they'll have settled down into something that works for them and also has room for a bit of nuance, and then we'll be railing about whatever stupid thing the new crop of freshmen are doing on campus.

 

(Man, I'm so glad nobody could possibly insult my generation when we were that age! Oh, wait....)

 

Seriously, though, talking about how stupid college kids are is a national pastime. A boring national pastime. They were doing it since my grandfather's day.

Who called college students "stupid"? Did I miss that? I did not see anyone say or suggest that.

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College students are, for the most part, still quite young. I don't know about you, but when I was 18 I had only a fleeting acquaintance with the concept of nuance... and this is one area where I think I might actually be normal.

 

So they're young, they're attempting to work out the adult world for themselves and come up with norms that work for them - and sure, sometimes they overstep a little. They're a little over-earnest. So what? In ten years they'll have settled down into something that works for them and also has room for a bit of nuance, and then we'll be railing about whatever stupid thing the new crop of freshmen are doing on campus.

 

(Man, I'm so glad nobody could possibly insult my generation when we were that age! Oh, wait....)

 

Seriously, though, talking about how stupid college kids are is a national pastime. A boring national pastime. They were doing it since my grandfather's day.

True. But I do think one difference is that in my day (said in true old codger voice) college kids were insulted for being too idealistic and open minded. College kids were questioning what they had been taught and that was what frustrated the older generation. Now it seems the concern is that college kids don't want to question or even face a different point of view.

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I don't understand or agree with the argument that the colleges need to form houses or whatever as safe places for these students. The students can (or should) be able to freely associate with others without such help from the school.

 

And they tend to naturally do so in all other aspects.

 

The German club meets at a coffee house.

 

The medieval history club meets wherever they decide to meet.

 

The pilots gather to meet.

 

The Catholics meet up at the campus parish or other places.

 

I see no reason why any other desired demographic subcategory can't do the same.

 

A college campus should not be so insular as some here suggest as the default. I don't feel my sons' state college is so insular as described here.

 

I think the reason is that sometimes the campus Democrats feel like they have the right to go picket the campus Republicans. Or the campus feminists think they should be able to go throw things at the campus Catholic group. Or some group of offended white students decides they don't like that there's a BLM group on campus and they feel they should go sit in their meetings and shout them down. Or some kids who aren't part of a group at all feel they should go pin up anti-LGBTQ slurs all over the coffeehouse where that group meets. Having designated offices or spaces for these groups just helps them have safe places to meet.

 

Honestly, this is SOOOOO not new. I'm sure that there are some smaller or commuter campus type colleges that have no or almost no spaces for student groups, but I've never heard of a large university or a decent liberal arts college that doesn't have student space and where that student space isn't allocated partially to student groups and where those student groups don't include some groups that represent specific races, ethnicities, sexualities, and political views.

 

In other words, this is already the norm. The term "safe spaces" is newish, but the fact that the campus (insert political party) and the campus (insert ethnic group) have their own offices or houses or whatever has been true for DECADES at most schools.

Edited by Farrar
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Um. I'm not sure what kind of utopia you think campus life is, but having designated by the college meeting space has not stoped any of the examples you give. People still picket and shout out and put anti-whatever group. Because it's still legal to do so. Having a designated location has never meant people were safe from hearing opposition. *That* is the new aspect to "safe" I think people are bothered by.

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Anyway, is it your experience that people feel compelled to surround themselves or "consume" only that which totally affirms their preexisting ideas?  

 

YES. I always think that people who can't tolerate opposing views either must not be very secure in their own views and/or don't know how to deal with the cognitive dissonance that may arise when their ideas are challenged. 

 

Should colleges have safe spaces and what should this mean? 

 

I have no problem with people forming groups with others of like mind. It's natural to want a support system. However, if a whole campus were to be declared a "safe space" from certain types of speech or from particular content, that would seem chilling to me. 

 

The need to silence opposing views strikes me as a mark of immaturity. I think by college age people should be able to handle having their ideas challenged in public spaces (assuming, of course, that everyone is always physically safe).

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Now it seems the concern is that college kids don't want to question or even face a different point of view.

 

I don't really think that's the case. Oh, I know that's what people claim is the case... but frankly, judging from the commentary, I think most of the people decrying this haven't spent very much time trying to understand the pro-safe space point of view. The hypocrisy speaks for itself.

 

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Where I've seen "safe spaces" discussed, the students were being "protected" from other people's opinions / realities, not from violence, threats, or nasty epithets.

 

Given that, I'm in the camp of "put on your big girl panties."  It's college.  People this age have been sent to war, have become parents, have dealt with everything imaginable.  (So have many kids younger than college age.)  They can survive the discomfort of hearing / seeing others' opinions.  They need to learn to deal with it, as they will certainly encounter this in their jobs and many other normal life experiences.

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As for whether "home" is a safe space - well, that too depends on how you define safe.  It's not unusual for people in the same home to have very different viewpoints and different life experiences.  (And that's *assuming* that "home" is safe or free in the basic sense.)

 

Sometimes my housemates' discussions which are imposed on me (and my kids) annoy me extremely.  The feeling might be mutual.  Most people could just walk away, but sometimes that's not an option for me.  But I can still put on my big girl panties and get over myself.  My brain is not actually going to explode no matter what anyone says.

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The real world outside of college does not provide many safe spaces.  The trend of safe spaces on campuses is ridiculous.  IMO a counseling center with some group and individual therapy available should be enough.  The special safe space thing is making it into a badge of honor to be a victim of some type.  And the idea that anything anyone finds disagreeable is now said to "make them feel unsafe"  -  :thumbdown: .   Save it for the things that are a real threat.   Any opinion someone disagrees with is not automatically "hate speech".   The world of college campuses has gone off the deep end. 

 

What is really awful is the way people who don't fall in line with this crap are being demonized by the wannabe SJW type folks on these campuses.  Reputations, jobs, even careers are being threatened because there is only one correct type of opinion to have anymore, and if the faculty members don't get in line with the proper groupthink, they are run down.   Because tolerance for differences of opinion is apparently not part of the groupthink. 

 

If people feel the need to create a support group around some common trait or experience, fine - create that group for positive support.  It's people who meet together and help each other.  I don't think setting up specific locations for students to hide in while a speaker they object to is speaking on their campus makes any sense.  They don't need a special place to hide from the horror of someone saying things they disagree with.  If they don't want to listen, just don't go.  The world off campus isn't going to cater to their need to hide in a bubble.  

Edited by laundrycrisis
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Of course, this has to go both ways. 

 

I'm not suggesting this of you, personally, but many people think 'able to handle having their ideas challenged in public spaces' only applies to other people, and not themselves.

 

So if a group of MRA's on campus want feminists to have their ideas challenged, then they sure as heck better be prepared for the same vigorous treatment of their own ideas.

 

Mostly, you don't hear that. If anyone can find me a men's right activist on campus who expresses a mature openess to having their ideas challenged by a feminist in the public sphere, I will give them ALL the koala stamps! 

 

(Obviously, insert any group where one is historically privileged and the other isn't. Not specific to this example.)

 

I don't know what it's like in Australia, but in the USA this is a given and has been all my life.  When I was in college I (along with my male classmates) was required to read and report on Simone de Beauvoir, not some male rights dude.  My Soc prof (who assigned said writer among other similar ones) was also a socialist politician.  Speakers were whoever wanted to speak, and were at least as "controversial" as today's; if you didn't like their message, you found someplace else to be at that time.  Since university is not a prison, there is nothing forcing a student to be in a particular place at any given time.  I was on the young side (entered university at 16) and managed to survive the onslaught of ideas that I didn't enjoy hearing, as did everyone else.  My "safe space" was that place in my head that my eyes looked at when they rolled, LOL.

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Of course, this has to go both ways. 

 

I'm not suggesting this of you, personally, but many people think 'able to handle having their ideas challenged in public spaces' only applies to other people, and not themselves.

 

So if a group of MRA's on campus want feminists to have their ideas challenged, then they sure as heck better be prepared for the same vigorous treatment of their own ideas.

 

Mostly, you don't hear that. If anyone can find me a men's right activist on campus who expresses a mature openess to having their ideas challenged by a feminist in the public sphere, I will give them ALL the koala stamps! 

 

(Obviously, insert any group where one is historically privileged and the other isn't. Not specific to this example.)

 

Yes, of course. I wouldn't want it any other way.

 

I don't know what a koala stamp is, but I want one.  :)

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It's on the student to participate or not, of course. You're on your own, you have to find your own safe spaces or shell out the cash for a single dorm room or luck into a good roommate situation or something. But colleges and universities are often insular places. If the spaces aren't provided by the institution, where do they exist? Certainly, if there had been no African American House or LGBTQ Room at my college campus, there would have been literally nowhere else for it to be. There was only the smatterings of a town around the school I attended. Rents for spaces were absurdly high. And realistically, colleges and universities use spaces like that to attract students they want.

 

I don't get why the college setting up such spaces or allowing the student government to allocate them or something along those lines is at odds with students managing their own social environment. If you don't want to use those spaces for this or that aspect of your identity, then don't.

 

The roommate situation certainly is luck.    That's for darn sure. 

 

I think you are mixing the "join with people like me" places with the "silence the speech of others" places as I mentioned in the original thread.  The former happens everywhere and the latter is undesirable, in my view (again, assuming safety for all).  Why does the institution need to provide them?  Aren't most clubs and groups started because some student says, "Hey, let's meet to discuss (whatever the interest)"? 

 

I don't know of a single college that denies students places to meet or doesn't have rooms like you mention.   i just think it could also be done at the restaurant or coffee shop or park down the street and that someone has to make it happen. 

 

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One of the instances of chalk messages was portrayed differently by a friend of mine who works for the school. The messages were written in specific locations that made people feel threatened. In front of some kind of Hispanic student association, an LGBT friendly location, etc. Targeted locations. That didn't come out in any of the articles I saw.

 

Generally I would think people being outraged by a politician's name in chalk is ridiculous. But this is a very weird year. If someone wrote a senate candidate's name (hypothetically, ahem) who is strongly associated with the KKK all around the Black Student Associations on campuses, I can see that being interpreted as targeted hate speech.

 

But the messages themselves were not threatening. Just "This person, 2016".    I think that is a hard leap to make. 

 

Are you saying the rest of campus was untouched by the messages that were only clustered around meeting areas for those two groups? 

You are right.  None of this was in the news reports. 

 

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There are questions to ask about safe spaces, and critiques to be made, but they are often not made from a place of respect or from a desire to understand.

 

I agree with this.

 

It is a very privileged thing to not worry about hate speech. If people have no real desire to understand no one can make them.  I feel like sarcasm (not that I am implying you are being sarcastic, I just mean in general) is misplaced in a thread about such an issue, but there doesn't seem to be much point in trying to get a point across when someone just flat out doesn't care.

 

If someone feels censored that their hate speech is prevented in "safe place," what is their purpose in chasing around these people? Why are they targeting people who are trying to avoid them and at what point is it threatening?

 

I do feel there is a difference in targeted hate speech and some crazy guy on the corner shouting hate speech. I have seen people standing on corners yelling that "x or y is bad and doomed and blah perverts blah blah" and I thought, "wow weirdo!" but if I saw someone actually shouting such things to a friend, I would jump in and shout them down.

 

I feel that safe places are avoiding "targeted" speech, not random speech.

Edited by Slartibartfast
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But the messages themselves were not threatening. Just "This person, 2016". I think that is a hard leap to make.

 

Are you saying the rest of campus was untouched by the messages that were only clustered around meeting areas for those two groups?

You are right. None of this was in the news reports.

 

That was what my friend (who does something in administration) described. The messages were only in front of specific locations, not randomly sprinkled all over campus. From what I understood, the statement to students was warning them not to start harassing specific groups. The media reported it as them being big whiners.

 

Even if it is just a name, some names do have greater impact than others. If students are writing the name of an actual Grand Wizard of the KKK in front of minority locations, that's something a campus administrator should look into seriously.

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I do agree with safe spaces to an extent. I believe that terminology was specifically discussing college campuses. Many students at a college campus do not live anywhere near their "home" and their dorms are a bit small for gatherings.

 

 I do think it is reasonable to have areas set aside that are safe spaces and free from hate speech and bigotry. I would think anyone could gather in those places. 

 

To me "safe space," implies people are not allowed to be nasty jerks there. I think with things being particularly bad during this election if I was a college student I would be happy that such a place was available.

 

I don't think that should include the entire campus. I agree that I do not feel that anyone should feel that they can make the public their personal bubble.

 

What does the bolded even mean?  If anyone can gather there, who decides what "hate speech and bigotry" is and who has committed that sin?   Again, assuming physical safety for all, and I hope (probably against hope) that adult college students can conduct discussions without spewing curse words all over each other and screaming at each other. 

 

How do you even say that?   We are having a meeting for the X group today in this hall.  No "hate speech or bigotry" allowed.  I think 99% of the time, only those interested in whatever the X group are are going to show up anyway. 

 

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Physical safe places are partly about gathering together with like-minded people. But they are also about - well, not silencing speech - but about finding temporary silence FROM other's speech. 

 

They are also about enacting a physical representation of solidarity.

 

And they are about a safe place to speak, and maybe prepare to speak in the public forum. 

 

I assume that some students today might reject the idea that they have to retreat. I assume that some students may be saying that an entire campus should be safe, no matter whether you are black or gay or Muslim or a woman. I guess that's what's going on. That safe spaces to retreat to are not enough.

 

It becomes a problem when the right to be emotionally and intellectually safe runs up against other legal forms of expression. 

 

I disagree with them, especially when they shut down other people's legally allowed voices. For example, when Greer was blocked from speaking because of her attitudes towards transgender people ( I disagree with her attitude). To me that crosses a line. Sure, protest outside her speech - or heck, inside. 

 

But don't try to stop her speaking. Because that's when you yourself become the censor. And none of us are particularly safe under censorship, from the left or the right. 

 

Ironically, I am a fan of the verse from..Proverbs ?...about iron sharpening iron. And men sharpening men. 

 

To me that's what university is all about. So long as all students have the opportunity to speak (there are plenty of valid arguments critiquing this assumption, which is why I say it is messy.) 

 

In an ideal world, university is the place to sharpen your iron by engaging with the diverse views of others. 

 

Again, someone who isn't white, well educated, straight, cis, with access to funds, might see things differently. I'd really like to talk to some of the students who see things differently to me. I have a LOT of privilege on campus. I might be wrong :)

 

Regarding the first bolded, I'm not seeing the distinction you are attempting to make.   How are you not silencing speech when you create a place where that speech can't happen? 

 

The second, heh...yeah.  Tell me about it. 

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Who is it excluding?

 

I don't think it was excluding *people* just certain speech. If someone is a racist I actually don't care if they feel excluded because they can't go on racist tangents in a certain area that is designated to be, "safe." 

 

What you just said is contradictory.   You aren't excluding someone for certain speech, but if that person holds an idea you find to be antithetical to your beliefs, he just can't say it, because the area has to be "safe". 

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Yeah, that's the problem - who decides what is "hate speech"?  The incidents I've seen reported have involved "safe spaces" from speech that is well within the range of acceptable free speech.  We all have sensitive spots and if one rather ordinary speaker is "hating," then so are pretty much all of the others.  I mean nobody is coming to give a speech on campus about "the sky is blue."

 

Also, there was at least one reported situation where the so-called "safe space," provided because someone was giving a speech somewhere else, was supplied with kiddie toys such as crayons, modeling clay, stuffies ....  I mean please.  These are supposed to be adults.

 

These spaces are more than just a place to go.  A message is being sent.  A message of idea censorship, a message of [especially feminine] weakness.  A message that there is only one right opinion, mine, and why bother being at a university since we already know everything.  This type of message is ridiculous, unhealthy, backward, and dangerous.

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I do feel there is a difference in targeted hate speech and some crazy guy on the corner shouting hate speech. I have seen people standing on corners yelling that "x or y is bad and doomed and blah perverts blah blah" and I thought, "wow weirdo!" but if I saw someone actually shouting such things to a friend, I would jump in and shout them down.

 

I feel that safe places are avoiding "targeted" speech, not random speech.

 

Who does this, shouting down a friend?   Not much of a friend there.   I think we have all seen people shouting stuff against others.  Ignore, and walk away, or make a single comment refuting whatever they say. That's what I have done, anyway. 

 

I agree with your final statement, but I'm not sure how you make the distinction in real life.  Sure, sometimes it is easy, if a mean group of people come in to a meeting they know is happening and start shouting "All (people who believe or are X) should die!"

 

But simple disagreement is not targeting, and  - I think - 9 times out of 10 will just not occur.  You roll your eyes and walk out at some nonsense being spouted or (if there is any point, and sometimes there isn't) constructively engage. 

 

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Who does this, shouting down a friend?   Not much of a friend there.   I think we have all seen people shouting stuff against others.  Ignore, and walk away, or make a single comment refuting whatever they say. That's what I have done, anyway. 

 

I agree with your final statement, but I'm not sure how you make the distinction in real life.  Sure, sometimes it is easy, if a mean group of people come in to a meeting they know is happening and start shouting "All (people who believe or are X) should die!"

 

But simple disagreement is not targeting, and  - I think - 9 times out of 10 will just not occur.  You roll your eyes and walk out at some nonsense being spouted or (if there is any point, and sometimes there isn't) constructively engage. 

 

 

I did actually say that if someone was shouting at my friend I would step in. I wouldn't shout at a friend of mine.

 

No one is talking about simple disagreement.

 

I have seen people standing on street corners shouting things that I disagreed with or felt was hate speech. I said nothing to them. But if that same person was shouting at my friend then I would, if someone was shouting at a random stranger I would probably say something. 

Edited by Slartibartfast
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Yeah, that's the problem - who decides what is "hate speech"?  The incidents I've seen reported have involved "safe spaces" from speech that is well within the range of acceptable free speech.  We all have sensitive spots and if one rather ordinary speaker is "hating," then so are pretty much all of the others.  I mean nobody is coming to give a speech on campus about "the sky is blue."

 

Also, there was at least one reported situation where the so-called "safe space," provided because someone was giving a speech somewhere else, was supplied with kiddie toys such as crayons, modeling clay, stuffies ....  I mean please.  These are supposed to be adults.

 

These spaces are more than just a place to go.  A message is being sent.  A message of idea censorship, a message of [especially feminine] weakness.  A message that there is only one right opinion, mine, and why bother being at a university since we already know everything.  This type of message is ridiculous, unhealthy, backward, and dangerous.

This!

 

Especially the message of feminine weakness.  That's appalling and often goes unchallenged. 

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What you just said is contradictory.   You aren't excluding someone for certain speech, but if that person holds an idea you find to be antithetical to your beliefs, he just can't say it, because the area has to be "safe". 

 

What I said is not remotely contradictory. 

 

One isn't excluding a person, they are excluding the speech. And I don't care if crazy racist isn't allowed to spout crazy racist things. There are several websites that have the same rule, such as the one you are posting on.

 

This board has the same rules that I was discussing for "safe spaces." If someone was here saying racist things or making fun of homeschoolers how many of us would report them? I would. People are making fun of it but most of us here are older than college kids and we wouldn't tolerate it either.

Edited by Slartibartfast
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I did actually say that if someone was shouting at my friend I would step in. I wouldn't shout at a friend of mine.

 

No one is talking about simple disagreement. 

 

Unclear reference.  You stated "shouting things at a friend", meaning a friend of yours.  I read it as a friend of the person who is shouting. 

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Unclear reference.  You stated "shouting things at a friend", meaning a friend of yours.  I read it as a friend of the person who is shouting. 

 

The friend would be mine, not the person shouting. One of my friends would not be engaging in hate speech and if they were I would convince them that was unacceptable or they would no longer be my friend. I have had that discussion with FAMILY members. I don't allow hate speech around my children. If they use the N word around my kids they would no longer see my kids.

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What I said is not remotely contradictory. 

 

One isn't excluding a person, they are excluding the speech. And I don't care if crazy racist isn't allowed to spout crazy racist things. There are several websites that have the same rule, such as the one you are posting on.

 

This board has the same rules that I was discussing for "safe spaces." If someone was here saying racist things or making fun of homeschoolers how many of us would report them? I would.

 

So you are fine with excluding ideas  in the public sphere that you find unacceptable, i.e. censorship.    These people who have ideas you dislike are welcome so long as they don't speak them.   But who decides on a college campus?  That is the question.  Or in the world at at large.  Once one steps into criminal behavior, that's a different situation and we have remedies for that, of course. 

 

We are talking about words.  The case in the OP was about just words, advocating a candidate.    Like Joe Blow, 2016.  That's it.  Not "all X should die". 

 

 I have never reported anyone on this site.  Let their words stand or fall on their own merits. 

 

I don't care if they make fun of home schoolers.  Who cares? Those of us who have done it know better.  Those of us who have kids excelling in universities and the world at large know better.  I will speak to the merits, when relevant, but I don't need to silence them. 

 

ETA: fixed formatting that was weird. 

Edited by TranquilMind
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The friend would be mine, not the person shouting. One of my friends would not be engaging in hate speech and if they were I would convince them that was unacceptable or they would no longer be my friend. I have had that discussion with FAMILY members. I don't allow hate speech around my children. If they use the N word around my kids they would no longer see my kids.

 

I see what you meant now.

 

I can't remember having such a conversation with a family member, as my family is pretty free-for-all in reference to speech,  except there is one segment with whom you do not discuss the Roman Catholic Church.  That's ok. 

I have never heard the N word used in my adult life except from one person, and I think I was shocked speechless (a rarity).  It was a little old lady I began a conversation with while walking on a nearby street (I talk to everyone).  I was pretty young and would address it differently today, but I think I said something like, "I've met her. She is a really nice person and she is not here to defend herself so I would rather not talk negatively about her. (change subject)."

 

I am rarely speechless but that one caught me by surprise. 

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So you are fine with excluding ideas  in the public sphere that you find unacceptable, i.e. censorship.    These people who have ideas you dislike are welcome so long as they don't speak them.   But who decides on a college campus?  That is the question.  Or in the world at at large.  Once one steps into criminal behavior, that's a different situation and we have remedies for that, of course. 

 

We are talking about words.  The case in the OP was about just words, advocating a candidate.    Like Joe Blow, 2016.  That's it.  Not "all X should die". 

 

 I have never reported anyone on this site.  Let their words stand or fall on their own merits. 

 

I don't care if they make fun of home schoolers.  Who cares? Those of us who have done it know better.  Those of us who have kids excelling in universities and the world at large know better.  I will speak to the merits, when relevant, but I don't need to silence them. 

 

ETA: fixed formatting that was weird. 

 

In your OP you wrote,

 

 

 

WITHOUT discussing any specific political views, parties, or candidates please, let's discuss the idea itself of "safe spaces" and whether we do feel compelled to create them for ourselves in society and what they should look like on campuses, if they should exist.  

 

Is this a general discussion about safe spaces or only about an instance in which people wrote a certain candidate in chalk around minority areas?

 

I really don't care who people are voting for, without knowing why one doesn't know if they are voting for that person because they are a crazy racist, they think building walls will add jobs to the economy, or they just do what Jerry Falwell tells them. There are many reasons.

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I see what you meant now.

 

I can't remember having such a conversation with a family member, as my family is pretty free-for-all in reference to speech,  except there is one segment with whom you do not discuss the Roman Catholic Church.  That's ok. 

I have never heard the N word used in my adult life except from one person, and I think I was shocked speechless (a rarity).  It was a little old lady I began a conversation with while walking on a nearby street (I talk to everyone).  I was pretty young and would address it differently today, but I think I said something like, "I've met her. She is a really nice person and she is not here to defend herself so I would rather not talk negatively about her. (change subject)."

 

I am rarely speechless but that one caught me by surprise. 

 

When we lived in Kansas City my daughter heard the N word in school so much that when she was in Kindergarten she thought it was an acceptable jocular manner of greeting someone. She also had a friend that as effeminate. He was teased so much that she came home everyday crying. Once he moved away was when we started homeschooling.

 

I live in SC now, I see people with confederate flags on their cars all the time.

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