Safe space and triangles: How a course syllabus prompted a Title IX investigation
- Brooklyn College geology professor David Seidemann has been cleared of wrongdoing after the City University of New York campus investigated his syllabus for potential Title IX violations.
- Language referring to the classroom not serving as a safe space, along with references to only a handful of students earning extra credit and the use of triangles instead of quotation marks, prompted a student complaint and the Title IX review from administrators for sexually harassing language and intimidation against students.
- University officials maintain that there was no formal investigation, even though Title IX officials reviewed details which it will not provide to Seidemann. Faculty union representatives did not provide comment for the Inside Higher Ed report.
In recent years and into the near future, colleges and universities will have no shortage of students demanding safe space and neutral approaches to sensitive topics. But this is a reality that many campuses will have to confront, given the number of years spent by administrators and faculty making space hostile for too many minority and underrepresented students at schools throughout the country.
Considerations for leadership will require the allowance for students to make claims that can be taken seriously by administration, because amidst all of the perceived hyper-sensitive reactions from students seeking equity on campus, there can still be opportunities for racism and hostilities to exist from faculty and others. Denying this fact, or believing that all claims can be attributed to student overreaction, can create outcomes in media and in campus reaction that are similar to sexual assault mishandling, which colleges also are still working to figure out.
- Inside Higher Ed Syllabus as Harassment