This Article Is Not a Safe Space

Warning: The following contains large doses of reality. If you find that offensive, fetch your smelling salts and keep reading; this is for you.

By Amelia Hamilton Published on November 10, 2015

College was supposed to be place for young adults to prepare for full-fledged adulthood, a stepping stone away from childhood and towards independence and responsibility. College was a place where one worked hard and earned a degree that would act as the gateway to gainful employment. Now, apparently, college is a place to spend heaps of money to be treated like a kindergartener while double-majoring in unemployability and victimization. Take Yale and Mizzou.

Before Halloween, students at Yale received an e-mail from Erika Christakis, associate master of Siliman College and wife of Siliman college president Nicholas Christakis, suggesting that, if you are offended by someone else’s Halloween costume, you should look away or tell that person you find their costume offensive, but that they would not take any official action the against free expression rights in costume choices. Students were livid.

Their “safe spaces” were completely threatened, not by an offensive costume, but by the very idea that there might be an offensive costume. Students screamed profanities at the officials behind the e-mail and one student, Jancey Paz, wrote a piece entitled “hurt at home,” which contains such gems of thin-skinned prose as “I feel that my home is being threatened” and “If you know I’m in pain and you aren’t doing anything to try to help me, then how can you be sorry? (Nicholas) Christakis is the Master of Silliman College, it is his job to take care of us, and he is failing.”

No, it is not his job to take care of your feelings. Which, I hasten to remind you, are hurt because of what you are imagining someone might theoretically dress as for Halloween.

“Social justice” has also run amok at the University of Missouri, commonly known as Mizzou. After a series of racially charged incidents (possibly by students, possibly not), black students felt that the campus was “unhealthy and unsafe,” and called for the university president Tim Wolfe’s resignation, as well as for him to “acknowledge his white male privilege.” The football team then held the campus hostage, with one player taking on a hunger strike and two dozen others saying that they would not take part in team activities until their demands were met. I don’t know how to break it to these kids, but they’re not Ghandi. They’re not 1960s freedom-fighters. They are college students, completely equal under the law, and their feelings got hurt, quite possibly legitimately.

Sometimes, people can really be jerks, and that is not OK. But why punish people who had nothing to do with it? Wolfe had nothing to do with the events, which ranged from a fecal swastika on a bathroom floor (vile in several ways) to a person driving on campus with a confederate flag, but the university president is a white man in a position of power so, clearly, he had to go. And, go, he did. Yet, the campus is still protesting about who knows what.

That brings us to Melissa Click. Click teaches Mass Media at Mizzou, and is the kind of “educator” who has gotten us to this point. She has been trying to stir up press coverage over the past few days before Wolfe’s resignation. However, as things spiraled out of control last night after his resignation, she tried to get journalists away from her protest. As a mass media teacher, apparently she is only into the media she chooses. Let’s take a look at her resume, which looks like a parody. I wish it were, because taxpayers are actually paying for this background:

Her research interests center on popular culture texts and audiences, particularly texts and audiences disdained in mainstream culture. Her work in this area is guided by audience studies, theories of gender and sexuality, and media literacy. Current research projects involve 50 Shades of Grey readers, the impact of social media in fans’ relationship with Lady Gaga, masculinity and male fans, messages about class and food in reality television programming, and messages about work in children’s television programs.

So, how are feelings now being handled at Mizzou? By the campus police, of course. Here’s an e-mail that went out to students today:

MU Police-compressed_resized

Yes, they’re asking you to call the police over hurtful words, and stating that they are perfectly willing to trample a students’ first amendment right to free speech. Now that we have students cheering for censorship, where will it end? This needs to stop now before it gets out of control. To the students, allow me to rattle your safe space long enough to say, grow up and get a job. That’s what college is for. Sometimes, people will be mean. Sometimes, your feelings will be hurt. This is not a matter for the police. If you can’t handle this, you have no business attending college.

And colleges, get back to doing what you were created to do: prepare students for the world, which is not a safe space. It is loud and complicated; it is messy and sometimes mean; and for the time being, it is free.

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  • jonah_rocks

    Amelia rocks!

  • Guimel Sibingo

    Hi Amelia,

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I think it is valuable to have as many voices as possible join this conversation. I would retort, however, that the issues presented by both Yale and Mizzou students go far beyond “feelings getting hurt.” Everyone has experienced a form of bullying, perhaps in school or maybe they have had people make fun of them for something. But I would argue that incidents like those are far different from incidents in which people bully you or intimidate you for belonging to a particular group of people or for the color of one’s skin. I believe that falls under the category of prejudice, something that can be incredibly debilitating for the individual receiving it. Furthermore, much of the verbal oppression experienced by students today is rooted in years of oppression throughout history and can have a tremendous impact on a person’s quality of life, their confidence, and as we see through how our system is designed can also have an effect on access to jobs and equality.

    I certainly understand the frustration by many of my white friends, who feel that they can’t say anything or else it would be considered offensive. And I agree that there has been a tremendous lack of communication and understanding on both parts which is not helpful. I agree that the PC culture has often gone too far. I also agree that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is not the way to go about resolving these issues. I want to acknowledge your right to express your voice with this issue and would invite you to consider mine as well. Conversation and mutual understanding is the best way to come to a solution.

    I know it seems like these issues are trivial, especially perhaps for someone who may not have experienced the same even though I do not want to assume I know your story or whether you have experienced oppression. If you have, I am sorry. If you haven’t, just know that it is something that can be incredibly debilitating and can lead to a great amount of frustration. I do believe also that as a society we should do what we can to make sure that all are accomodated, especially when dealing with a public institution such as the University of Missouri.

    I hope you don’t take any of my words the wrong way. I am very interested in your response and would love to continue to dialogue.

    Best,
    Guimel
    Journalism Masters student at Mizzou

    • Mo86

      “Everyone has experienced a form of bullying, perhaps in school or maybe they have had people make fun of them for something.”

      Yep. That’s life. You get over it.

      “But I would argue that incidents like those are far different from incidents in which people bully you or intimidate you for belonging to a particular group of people or for the color of one’s skin. I believe that falls under the category of prejudice, something that can be incredibly debilitating for the individual receiving it.”

      What evidence is there of any such thing in the first place?

      “Furthermore, much of the verbal oppression experienced by students today is rooted in years of oppression throughout history and can have a tremendous impact on a person’s quality of life, their confidence, and as we see through how our system is designed can also have an effect on access to jobs and equality.”

      LOL! Oh, for goodness sake! What “oppression” has an 18-22 college student in America ever suffered?

      Grow up!

  • Mo86

    When I first started hearing the term “safe spaces”, I thought it was a joke! I still cannot believe that young adults (I refuse to look at college students as being “children”) are behaving like preschoolers!

    But the worse part is everyone taking them seriously. That’s been the mistake here. These insufferable emotional infants need to be mocked – loudly, publicly, and constantly. That’s all the attention this nonsense merits. If an adult didn’t get their way on something and stomped their feet or threw themselves on the ground in a tantrum, we’d look at them and either ridicule them, or perhaps wonder if they had some developmental issues that causes them to act this way. (In which case, we’d look at this as a tragedy.) What we would not do is just accept it and coddle them and give in to their demands.

    It’s no different than a toddler throwing a tantrum. If you give in to them and start asking them, “Oh, Sweetie, what can I do for you? What is it you want?” they will learn to do this all the time. I know it’s fiction, but remember what a pain Dudley was in the Harry Potter movies? Who wants to deal with a kid like that, much less an adult?

    If the first time they do it you put an end to it by not giving in to their demands, not being rattled by it, and sticking them in a time out until they calm down (or giving them a good spanking!) then the instances of this happening will be less and less. They will even eventually grow out of it. And isn’t that the whole point of child rearing? Isn’t it to guide children along in the process of becoming a mature adult, and preparing them for successfully functioning in the adult world?

    The bottom line is this: If you choose to behave like a child, then don’t complain when you are treated like a child.

  • Wayne Cook

    I demand the right to insult others! But you better not insult me! Children. Can’t imagine the number of self indulgent families these people will emasculate then destroy. Intellectual cannibalism.

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