University of Chicago leaders rail against 'safe spaces'
- The University of Chicago is attracting attention with Dean of Students Jay Ellison's letter to incoming freshmen this week stating the campus will not tolerate safe spaces which allow students to "retreat from intellectual challenges."
- The letter stands in sharp contrast to the previously-published perspective of neighboring Northwestern President Morton Schapiro, who advocates for safe spaces, saying students have a right to associate with those with like interests and experiences and with whom they feel comfortable on campus.
- The debate over "safe spaces" on campus is one that is being held with increasing frequency, as many wonder how the rhetoric of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will affect campus climate.
Ellison's letter represents a perspective that is not often publicized in higher ed administration, but one that is held by many privately. The idea of "safe spaces" on campus is one that originated from a need to create outlets for faculty and students of color who may be facing micro-aggressions on campus, or who may simply be looking to build community. But some argue student should learn to deal with attitudes and perspectives unlike their own in a collegiate environment to better prepare for a diverse society.
In the end, in a state where public appropriations are running dry for higher education, campus leaders should heed the potential for massive campus rallies, attrition through transfer and days of negative publicity for the institution created by allowing for situations which make any group of students feel uncomfortable on campus.