Safe Spaces on Campus
November 19, 2015 1 Comment
I have taught undergraduates at Duke since 1997, and now have two children who are in college elsewhere (a junior and a frosh). I attended the campus discussion last Friday and experienced it primarily as a dad–hearing Duke students share wrenching stories of their experience at Duke broke my ‘dad heart.’
On the broader discussion that I will term ‘safe space v freedom of expression‘ I think this dichotomy misses a basic reality. For some students and many faculty and those looking at the college campus from afar, ‘safe space’ connotes intellectual freedom to discuss anything and go where ideas, discourse and logic may lead. This of course is the University at its best. However, for some of our students, the desire for and language of ‘safe space’ is driven because they are afraid. Either for their personal safety, or because they have been told/shown that they don’t belong and aren’t valued at the University itself (or both).
As a Public Policy Prof, I usually have all sorts of ideas about how to address seemingly intractable problems. In this moment, I am unsure, but my ‘dad heart’ remains unsettled.