Phi Beta Cons

The Trade-Off Between Diversity and ‘Safe Spaces’

One of the loudest cries on college campuses these days is for “safe spaces.” We hear constantly (from some students, anyway) that the campus is hostile and therefore they must be given “safe spaces” where they’re free from all those horrid microaggressions, triggering events, and so on.

In this FEE Daily piece, East Carolina University’s Kevin Currie-Knight argues that while there is something to be said for “safe spaces” (such as ECU’s LGBT Center), there is an inevitable trade-off. Safe spaces are not diverse — at least not with respect to attitudes and beliefs. And that is a problem because the most vocal students want to turn the whole university in a “safe space” for their views, which means stifling the diversity of views, opinions and arguments that ought to characterize an educational institution.

“Safe space” has become just another nice-sounding slogan that justifies clamping down on anyone who disagrees with non-leftist beliefs.

I’m not at all sure that educational institutions should devote resources to “safe spaces” for any group, however. People who want to flock together, whether LGBT, libertarian, Muslim, Jewish, non-religious, gun-owners, gun-phobes, etc. can and will do so with or without any official “center.” A better approach, in my view, would be for schools to insist that no one engage in any harassment directed at individuals or groups and enforce such rules strongly but fairly.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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