In April of last year, feminist scholar Christina Hoff Sommers spoke at Oberlin College in Ohio. According to the Oberlin Review, her views were considered dangerous, so dangerous that a trigger warning was issued, warning students of how traumatizing her views may be to them. These views included questioning the wage gap and the idea that our society embraces rape culture, as well as criticizing the current state of feminism today. A room nearby was used as a safe space to comfort any students who may have suffered through having their narratives challenged. In her interview with comedian, Joe Rogan, she stated that 30 people and a dog retreated to this safe space, relieving the ever so stressful experience for these students of having their ideas challenged.
Safe space is a term used to describe any area that is free from any sort of harassment or hate speech. This concept in itself is a threat to the freedom of speech. It goes against the principles of liberalism and freedom, principles that we should embrace and be proud of.
The most important aspect of higher education is the preparation it can give to one for their occupation. There are going to be ideas heard in one’s job that they may not agree with or find repulsive. Is any employer going to think that they should be creating safe spaces to accommodate those who may be offended at the viewpoints others may give on certain topics? No. It does not make any sense for a company to do such a thing, as it is costly and inefficient.
Regardless of that, the world is not a safe space. It is actually a very cruel space. Higher education should expose students to the fact that the world is not there to hold your hand and guide you. Safe spaces end up doing the opposite. They don’t enforce this reality, but rather reject it. There are going to be ideas heard that are not comforting and may even seem offensive to some. On many college campuses, students may be able to comfort themselves by going to one of these safe spaces, but those who have become reliant on safe spaces will be ill-prepared for the reality which faces them.
I’m proud to say that St. John’s University has not succumbed to the creation of safe spaces. Our University has upheld the basic liberty of the freedom of speech, a freedom which those who embrace safe spaces take advantage of, as there are many places around the world who do not share this same luxury. Safe spaces play onto the politics of victimhood, making it seem as if anyone who shares views that may not be standard on a college campus are the oppressors simply because of their expression of said views. More importantly, they reject the harsh reality that we all live in. They infantilize fully grown adults, treating them as if they are as emotionally developed as children. If this university falls victim to this current trend, then there will be more people emerging out of college not only riddled with debt, but not mentally prepared to face reality.