Across high schools and universities nationwide, the debate over safe spaces is becoming more and more consequential as time goes on. Should students be protected from perspectives that they don’t want to hear or should they be exposed to all ideas including controversial or at times hostile ones? More importantly, should schools even be in the business of stifling speech?
To advocates, safe spaces should be implemented to keep students from being bombarded with discomforting viewpoints. To opponents, freedom of expression is essential to the idea of academic freedom.
To students like myself who have views different from the mainstream, it can be frustrating to constantly be thinking of whether or not the statement you want to say is “politically correct” or trigger-worthy. When reading Huckleberry Finn in junior year, students had to make a very calculated choice on whether they wanted to use the “n-word” or not when reading out loud to the class. In some schools, books with this offensive word have been outright banned and replaced with “cleaner” versions.
Historically, high schools and colleges have been sites of extremely controversial debates such as women’s rights, racial justice, etc. In suppressing the flow of ideas, no progress will be made. By protecting the hypersensitive from ideas that might offend them, all students are hurt.
University leaders have attacked this violation of free speech. Even the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has condemned “safe spaces,” saying “a sense of righteous entitlement by a minority of students means that their wish not to be offended shuts down debate.”
The very idea of censoring students contradicts the ideals of the Constitution and is flatout un-American, right up there with trying to take guns out of the hands of responsible men and women and banning Muslims from entering the United States.
A certain community of people wish to take our inalienable right of free speech. Anything that does not follow their regressive left wing agenda merits censoring. Coddling students is simply foolish and does not prepare them for the “terrors” that they may face in the real world.
Perhaps teachers should continuously take surveys during debates to see if kids feel “comfortable” with the views being expressed.