Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Safe Spaces" and Classroom Discussions

I appreciated this piece by Judith Shulevitz in this weekend's NYT: "In College and Hiding from Scary Ideas." "In most cases, safe spaces are innocuous gatherings of like-minded people who agree to refrain from ridicule, criticism or what they term microaggressions — subtle displays of racial or sexual bias — so that everyone can relax enough to explore the nuances of, say, a fluid gender identity. As long as all parties consent to such restrictions, these little islands of self-restraint seem like a perfectly fine idea. But the notion that ticklish conversations must be scrubbed clean of controversy has a way of leaking out and spreading. Once you designate some spaces as safe, you imply that the rest are unsafe…..[W]hile keeping college-level discussions 'safe' may feel good to the hypersensitive, it’s bad for them and for everyone else."

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