Intellectual Safe Spaces are Really Danger Zones
Vivian Winslow
324

A few thoughts.

  1. I believe that for the most part “safe spaces” in institutions of higher learning are intended, for the most part, to be temporary refuges, not a reworking of the entire academy and the experiences of its members.
  2. People with emotional damage do exist. Some of them are young and bright and have value to contribute to the academic community. Should they be completely precluded from participation in that community solely because of some damage they have experienced, or should reasonable accommodations be made for them (as it is for people with obvious physical disabilities)?
  3. Is it possible that there are some students who are sufficiently distressed that cannot be reasonably accommodated in this manner i.e. those whose accommodation would significantly disrupt the experience of the other members of the academic community? I believe so.
  4. Is it possible that on a spectrum ranging from a refusal to provide any form of accommodation for people with emotional damage to accommodations that impair the basic mission and tenets of academia (including academic freedom), some institutions go too far one way or the other? I expect so, but it is not clear to me that either extreme is prevalent, and I respectfully think this piece uses an unfairly broad brush in making its argument.