Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Scary ideas and safe spaces

This is so ridiculous, I was convinced it was satire:
The safe space, Ms. Byron explained, was intended to give people who might find comments “troubling” or “triggering,” a place to recuperate. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma. Emma Hall, a junior, rape survivor and “sexual assault peer educator” who helped set up the room and worked in it during the debate, estimates that a couple of dozen people used it. At one point she went to the lecture hall — it was packed — but after a while, she had to return to the safe space. “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs,” Ms. Hall said.
Even if, as Phoebe and Amanda posit (and I'm inclined to agree), there is no real epidemic of infantilizing  college students, the fear of offense is real, and in a climate where an innocuous mistake can become a meme, potentially costing someone a job, the concern is understandable. The Brown example is so beyond the pale, it merits ridicule. Play-Doh? Puppy videos? Are you sure this isn't an Onion headline?

Mocking aside, what Hall said about being bombarded by viewpoints that go against her "dearly and closely held beliefs," illustrates what a lot of people -- okay, older people -- have been saying about millennials being too coddled for college. Honestly, I don't believe this to be true about twenty-somethings en mass, but there have been too many examples lately of college students thinking that it's their right to be protected from words. Not slurs, not harassment, but differing viewpoints. Granted, a rape survivor, particularly a recent one, might be in a more perilous position, but why not just skip the speech if you know it's going to be triggering? When did college become a substitute for therapy?