Would safe spaces actually be safe?


TARA LAWSON

Student Submission

With the recent debates on UW campuses between implementing “safe spaces” for free speech, it is important to see if these safe spaces would be beneficial or cause more harm.

On one hand, I agree with the demands requested from the United Council to the UW Board of Regents including creating racial awareness within the system, updating plans for diversity change, creating a task force to monitor the experiences of minority students in school, and increasing funding to bring mental health professionals into the school, which are outlined in The Ranger News article, “Free Speech vs. Safe Spaces.” 

However, I do not think creating safe spaces on college campuses is going to accomplish any of these demands.

In my mind, it would be too difficult to enforce the idea of a safe space and have someone policing these areas.

Who would designate where these safe spaces are located? Who would determine what can and cannot be said in these spaces? Is this space only for minority students? Who would be in charge of monitoring actions in these safe spaces?

 There are too many unanswered questions from the #Blackout side in terms of the logistics of the safe spaces. They have the right idea in asking for a place to speak without fear of demeaning or discriminatory speech, but if I were on the Board of Regents, I would not choose implementing safe spaces as a resolution.

Instead, I would focus on educating the student body on diversity in relation to their campus environment. During a student’s first semester at a UW school, I would require them to take a diversity class in order to create an open academic debate on the topic.

By learning about other racial groups when a student first steps on campus, I believe this would help eliminate the need for safe spaces. 

Students should have a space where they can feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions on any topic, including racial diversity, and I think the classroom would be the best place for this and not a designated area on campus.

If the board decided to implement safe spaces on UW campuses, would that prevent demeaning speech or making it easier for students to discriminate against one another?

There is the potential for some students to dislike the safe spaces, thus standing right outside of the “safe space” and spewing derogatory comments into the area.

Does the idea of a safe space only apply into the designated location? If so, I do not see how that is helping anyone who is feeling discriminated against. I see it giving people an even easier opportunity to harm others with their hateful speech.

 

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