STAFF EDITORIAL: Safe spaces do not hinder the college experience

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By the Torch Editorial Staff

While a certain orange-colored presidential candidate spent the entire summer denouncing political correctness, the topic itself was further thrust into the national spotlight with the University of Chicago’s recent decision to end safe spaces and trigger warnings at its campus.

In a letter to incoming students, UChicago’s Dean of Students Jay Ellison explained the prestigious school’s decision to rid their campus of safe spaces and trigger warnings.

“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own,” the letter said.

Across the country, fierce reactions both for and against the university’s new policy sparked an intense debate on the validity safe spaces and trigger warnings as a whole. They, many argue, leave undergraduates unprepared for the realities that the real world will entrench them in once they obtain their coveted degree and go out into the world.

However, what many fail to understand is that safe spaces and trigger warnings do not, if done correctly, coddle young people into their own little world free of any challenges to their deepest beliefs.

While Roosevelt does not have a specific policy on safe spaces or trigger warnings, according to Sharron Evans, Interim Associate Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students, university policies on discrimination and the overall social justice mission as a whole speak to RU’s position on these issues.

In the past, campus organizations like RU Proud have held safe space training sessions, an event that aims at giving LGBT students and their allies a medium to discuss issues in a civilized manner. These events do not limit free speech, nor do they give students false impressions of the world as it currently is. They only simply give a chance to work through difficult issues together.

Still, on the whole, while we do not think that universities should follow the lead of UChicago, intellectual safe spaces can be dangerous if they do not allow for dissent, or refuse to teach students about more sensitive issues like war, crime, sexual assault and more. Our education allows us to learn about the real world and does not refrain from telling it like it is regardless of how liberal and progressive our campus may be.

After much discussion, we, the Torch editorial board, agree that our university uses its social justice mission to allow for open discussions in class. But, it could still be much better.

In college, much like in real life, not everyone is going to agree all the time. And that’s a good thing.

Of course, Roosevelt is a very liberal university, but that does not mean that only liberal students go here. In fact, we could almost all recall instances in which other students have been shut down in their classes for their less than progressive beliefs. To this, we ask that our classmates listen to everyone, even if you disagree with them to an extreme extent because their opinions are just as valid as your own.

Classrooms should breed dissent and debate, not limit it out of fear of upsetting our classmates. Therefore, any school policy that detracts from that need should be questioned. However, despite a few minor qualms, we think that Roosevelt does a great job of not restricting dissent. It is merely up to us, the students, to react to it efficiently.

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