Anorak | University Safe Zones are places where the normal and boring can say ‘It’s all about me’

University Safe Zones are places where the normal and boring can say ‘It’s all about me’

by | 23rd, March 2015

safe space


Safe spaces: Writing in the New York Times Judith Schulevitz takes up the story of university safe spaces, those zones of intolerance where diverse views of a diverse society are banned, where everything is ‘normal’.

She begins by looking at the work of Katherine Byron, a member of Brown University’s Sexual Assault Task Force. In her safe zone rape will be a taboo. No, not illegal. Rape is an abhorrent crime. This is a ban on anything that could upset rape victims.

This means that a debate between founder Jessica Valenti and Wendy McElroy, a critic of the war on “rape culture”, was feared by Ms. Byron. She said it would be “bringing in a speaker like that could serve to invalidate people’s experiences”.

Student volunteers set about creating a “safe space”. Here anyone upset by the debate could be cosseted.

Schulevitz notes:

The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma.

To recap: this space is for a sane adult at a centre of learning.

Schulevitz then notes :

Safe spaces are an expression of the conviction, increasingly prevalent among college students, that their schools should keep them from being “bombarded” by discomfiting or distressing viewpoints. Think of the safe space as the live-action version of the better-known trigger warning, a notice put on top of a syllabus or an assigned reading to alert students to the presence of potentially disturbing material…

But the notion that ticklish conversations must be scrubbed clean of controversy has a way of leaking out and spreading. Once you designate some spaces as safe, you imply that the rest are unsafe. It follows that they should be made safer.

Adam Shapiro, a student at Columbia , is no fan of these bubble zones.

He was asked to display a sign in his dorm window. The sign decared the room a “safe

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Posted: 23rd, March 2015 | In: Key Posts, News Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink