The Harbinger Online

Editorial: Sheltering Students


Photo Credit to Brown University

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In 2015, Brown University created a safe space for students to go to during a campus debate about sexual assault in case they felt triggered, or uncomfortable with anything that was said during the debate. According to the New York Times, the room was filled with “cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh…blankets and a video of frolicking puppies.” The room was, in effect, a space on campus for students who wanted to separate themselves from the ideas they heard during the debate.

When safe spaces were originally created, their intent was to provide a place where anyone could relax and be able to fully express themselves, despite race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. Currently, safe spaces are being used as a place, generally in educational institutions, where anyone can go to avoid being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome or unsafe. Unfortunately, this tends to harbor students from being exposed to ideas they potentially oppose. These ideas may end up expanding one’s own beliefs or helping one to understand why they disagree with someone else’s. The Harbinger believes that using safe spaces to avoid uncomfortable conversations is not conducive to a learning environment. Instead, they should be used as areas where all ideas can be discussed in a respectful manner.

East itself has implemented safe zones, which are similar to safe spaces, but they were originally directed towards LGBTQ+ students. Teachers place a sticker on their classroom door or window to alert any member of the LGBTQ+ community that their classroom is a safe zone. In these safe zones, all points of view are accepted. Everyone is supposed to feel welcomed.

In the Harbinger’s eyes, this is the correct way to use a safe space. Instead of sheltering students from potentially offensive ideas, it protects the right of students to safely share all ideas they have.

In truth, everyone has the right to a safe space: any private property owned. But public land is different, and dissenting arguments and opinions should be allowed. So if a safe space is going to be created in public, every person’s view should be able to be presented.

As a newspaper, we believe in the necessity of protecting the spread of ideas in all spaces. Progress comes from communication, so shutting this down anywhere can only be detrimental. Safe spaces can be used – but only if all ideas are allowed to be respectfully presented.

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