photo courtesy // Pixabay.com

By: David Joo, Contributing Writer.

According to Merriam-Webster, a safe space is “a place (as on a college campus) intended to be free of bias, conflict, criticism or potentially threatening actions, ideas or conversations.”

While some have lauded the concept, there are others who abhor it. I stand on the side of the latter, because the concept of a safe space on a college campus is not only immature, but also detrimental to a student’s college education and transition from adolescence to adulthood.

I feel that the University of Chicago worded my stance best in its letter to its incoming U.C. Class of 2020 stating, “Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

In short, the letter is stating that, in an academic environment, knowledge should not be suppressed by those who feel that the content may be deemed controversial.

Why must students, professors and faculty members be silenced in an environment where the core concept of that place is to enrich, educate and express ideas and opinions?  

Why must one side be subjected to being suppressed while the other side has the authority to do so?

Essentially, colleges, universities and other academic institutes that condone the creations of “safe spaces” are allowing students to sit in a day-care center with the only difference being that this one requires one to pay up to numbers as high as $40,000 to $60,000 every year.

I am not against the concept of support groups. They are necessary in the incessant torrents of life. I am not against the idea of finding peace and comfort from friends, family members, professional help or even solitude.

However, I do have a problem when academic institutions cater to students and create “safe spaces” for them in order to shield them from the harsh realities of life or from differing opinions and ideas.

How does the creation of safe spaces advocate for the growth and development of students?

Is it not ironic, then, that these places promote against the very ideologies of colleges and universities: academic freedom and learning?

Considering that a majority of enrolled college students are between the ages of 18 to 24, how are students supposed to transition from adolescence to adulthood if they block out the very knowledge and lessons that would help them mature?

Dealing with situations, patience and open-mindedness are vital skills in the workforce that can only be cultivated by involving oneself in an environment that tests those abilities.

Learning and evolving to create one’s own “safe spaces” is a skill that will further students’ learning and maturity as they leave college and enter the working world.

Rather than creating safe spaces, would it not be more beneficial for students to attend counseling sessions where they learn life skills and habits that they could incorporate into their daily lives in order to face and overcome adversities?

Whether it be a matter of sexual identity, gender identity, religion, world views or something else, safe spaces will be more harmful than beneficial to students who wish to cover their eyes from reality.

After those four or more years end in college and a student has to take the first step into the working world, how resilient and mature will one be if one spent time seeking escape rather than stepping forward onto new ground?

While I may not be in the position to make a statement to college authorities, I heavily implore, as a college student and as a person living amidst a confused and constantly changing generation: abolish safe spaces from colleges and universities.

Give students the tools to progress intellectually and maturely through situations, not sanctuaries that will only limit students’ drives to manifest. Do not silence voices merely for the fact that they sing different tunes to others.

Show students worlds outside of the ones they live in and let them explore and inhabit them.

It is your responsibility, as educators, to give students the necessary tools to create a more civilized and more educated world.