Creating a “Safe” Space


Dillon Smith ’16

On campuses across the nation, students are calling for memorials to be redone, statues to be taken down, and buildings to be renamed. This is due to the “safe space phenomenon”.

At Princeton University, one of the most prestigious schools in the nation, a group of students called the Black Justice League have demanded that buildings and statues in honor of school alumnus Woodrow Wilson be torn down for his racist views despite his numerous accomplishments that benefited humanity. Yale students have petitioned to rename the school’s Calhoun College, named after John C. Calhoun for his views regarding African Americans that he held in the 1800s. The petition states, “The monumental task of eliminating the vestiges of racism must include all monuments and symbols dedicated to people and institutions that fought to preserve slavery and white supremacy.” At Harvard University, faculty running the individual “houses” on campuses can no longer be called “House Masters” because the title “master conjur[es] connotations of slavery”, although its roots are from centuries-old European terms for a teacher, chief servant or head of household.

Personally, I see this as a horrible part of today’s society. We culturally have become over-sensitized and have stepped on our own civil liberties by limiting free speech to “acceptable” speech. While I do believe that it is important that we grow and develop in a safe environment in which we are protected and free to do so without interference, we cannot value our own “safety” over our own freedom. The real world is not a “safe” place. Millions of people have millions of different opinions, and sheltering our ears from them does not make them cease to exist. Exposure is the only way for us to develop our own complex opinions, so “sheltering” us from “harmful” language will end up doing more harm than good. We culturally need to become less sensitive to others’ ideas and more concerned with our own development. Hiding from what we do not want to hear is no way to do so. For more information on these occurrences and other perspectives, please see the links below.

At Harvard Dorms, ‘House Masters’ No More

The White-Supremacist Lineage of a Yale College



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