Safe Spaces and Clarity of Thought

As The Wall Street Journal pointed out in an interview with Northwestern University’s President Morton Schapiro, the University of Chicago’s President Robert Zimmer has a view of the nature of safe spaces and the relationship between them and collegiate education.

incoming freshmen [should expect] to expect discomfort—not safe spaces—on his campus.

Schapiro, instead, wants to coddle his pupils as though they’re still two years old.

Northwestern President Morton Schapiro takes a gentler approach.

He believes that because learning is frequently uncomfortable, students need safe spaces—which for him means places where people who share an identity can retreat, relax, and recoup.

Of course, they already have that: their dorm rooms, where students of like mind gather along with the room’s occupants; the school’s student unions, where several groups gather, each one consisting in the main of students of like mind.  Forcing all of that into all of the other places that a school administer deems must be “safe spaces” destroys safety for all—especially those of whom demanders of “safe spaces” disapprove.

And Schapiro had this—and he was serious:

That might mean sharing a meal with students who are all of the same color or religion or watching a movie in a house designated for students from a certain background.

Back to segregation and separate but equal.

The interview continued in that vein.

In the end, though, there isn’t any safer space than the ability to think clearly, even if clear thinking often is uncomfortable.  School administrators who cannot understand both the difference between uncomfortable and unsafe and the critical dependency between safety and clarity of thought are unfit to sit in those chairs.  Their own inability to think clearly renders their entire campuses unsafe spaces.

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