No Place to Hide: The Absurdity of College Safe Spaces
“I do not believe with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Famous words from Voltaire that seem to be forgotten today. Whatever happened to this mindset?
Very often, when I express my political views, folks on the left, instead of disagreeing and having a calm debate or discussion, insult my character or shout me down. And all because our opinions on a political matter differ!
But what has fueled this new way of communicating different thoughts? From what has appeared in the news lately, safe spaces on colleges are largely to blame.
Many college students and safe space sympathizers argue that college students need these spaces so they have somewhere to feel they belong, and they can open up to friends without feeling judged. While this is true to a certain extent, it can be, and has been, taken to an extreme across college campuses. Numerous universities ban certain guest speakers because students whine that the words are insensitive; it’s not what they hear in their beloved safe spaces.
Just this past week, UC Berkeley students violently rioted against conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos because they thought his opinions to be hateful, because they did not conform to the usual political correctness found in university curriculums and safe spaces. The rioters shut down roads, defaced property, and assaulted conservative students waiting for the speaking event. NYU also engaged in their share of fiery riots when conservative lecturer Gavin McInnes was scheduled to speak on campus.
The main reason safe spaces are detrimental to college students is that students do not learn to articulate their opinions in a calm manner when someone’s ideas differ from theirs’ on a political topic. Rather, they become offended when others march to the beat of a different drummer… particularly a conservative beat. That is, college administrators and professors, the majority of whom associate with the left, do not appreciate students’ opinions that challenge their left-wing agenda.
The PragerU video “The Least Free Place in America” explains how colleges have done a one-eighty for the worst; they have gone from welcome, open dialogues, to now shutting down those with opposing views. In the video, Greg Lukianoff states that “campus censorship teaches students that they have a right not to be offended.”
Silencing opinions that some find unfavorable does not stretch students’ minds, and it does not allow them to further develop their own ideas and opinions. They become carbon copies of what their professors preach.
Adults should be able to express their thoughts, and be open to intellectual debates; not be shut down and stripped of their rights. The American colleges are failing if their students need their “blankies” when someone presents a view different than theirs.
This does not mean that everyone must agree all of the time and be best chums, but it does mean that students need to calmly articulate what is on their minds if they are so intent on having their voices heard. Throwing temper tantrums that cause harm to people and property does not express any intellectual thought; it merely shows that college students are unruly, spoiled children having a meltdown because someone is saying something that hurts their feelings.
If colleges want to prepare their students for the real world, they need to stop protecting and coddling them as if they are five years old; it’s time for them to grow up. With what we have seen at Berkeley and NYU, it is proof that college students are not able to handle opposing opinions, and that they cannot handle expressing their own opinions in a civilized manner because they have been taught it is okay to shut down speech they do not like.
To add insult (a major insult) to injury, UC Berkeley is a public campus, and shutting down speech is in violation of the First Amendment which protects unpopular speech. While NYU is private and the administration can, in fact, disallow people from saying certain things, Berkeley cannot.
It is time, reader, for Voltaire to make a comeback.