Safe Spaces - again

I've written about it before but now the University of Chicago has decided to take a totally freedom-championing pre-emptive strike against "Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces", it's relevant again.


  1. It seems the actual issue is people wanting to stay living in their blissful land of ignorance, where no one comes to harm unless it's their fault (some just-world nonsense) and to confront the fact that people all around us are living with their own struggles and might need a hand - maybe in a different way than we might need.

    The harm being discussed here is not some imaginary books hurt my feelings! complaint. It is how we relate to and cater for people whose needs differ from those that institutions currently support.
  2. The (ha!) offending article.
    Comment from a friend-of-a-friend: "As a foreword, however, it's worth remembering that UChicago proudly refers to itself as the place "where fun goes to die." The flawed notion that college cannot produce both fun and education/intellectual growth can explain most of what is wrong with the recent letter."
  3. The failure "to adult" seems very squarely in the critics' camp here, to me. Students want to be treated like adults, in terms of being able to be open about their traumas and being given the information they need to come fully prepared into difficult topics - not just coast over it because it doesn't apply to them, but really engage. Refusing to acknowledge how pervasive fall-out from abuse etc. really is seems a lot more like immaturity to me.

    Always worth pointing out that if mental health had better support services in wider society, and less common stigma, a lot of this would be far less necessary. But anti-TW folk don't seem to champion mental health services either, funnily enough.
  4. If people think the pinnacle of educational/academic virtue is in letting only those who are not personally affected by some topics learn about them, we have a problem. Those people are not automatically more mature, more deserving, or more right than others.
  5. What a coincidence that the most outspoken anti-safe-space type people I meet/see complaining seem to be well-off white dudes with standard homes. I wonder why that might be.
  6. People talk about coddling and infantilising when they're doing the exact opposite - running away from confronting tough stuff about being human, about diverse experiences and trauma, about things that are tough.
  7. It'd be funny if it weren't sad, that people think by opening up education to people who might otherwise be shut out from it for whatever reason, it's "silencing free speech". Warnings are not about censoring or removing content. They allow people to engage on their own terms (that doesn't meant they can't be mis-used but that's not the point of the University's statement).