Go safe or go home

Juliana Halpin, Managing editor of online content/social media content

Whether it is intentional or unintentional, those who argue that safe spaces are unnecessary and have no place on school campuses are inadvertently arguing for students and staff to feel unsafe while on school grounds.

Safe spaces have historically been places where groups of people with common characteristics can join together and feel secure in the environment if they feel insecure in the larger general community, according to Matthew Michaels of Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business. Safe spaces are also defined as areas in which violence, harassment and hate speech are prohibited, which seems very fitting for a school atmosphere.

As students, we have a million and one different thoughts going through our heads each day. Between finding the derivative of f(x) and reading the never ending Odyssey- not to mention applying to colleges, taking the ACT, and getting to practice on time- we have more than enough to think about as we sit in class each day. One thing students should not have to worry about is whether or not they feel they are in a safe environment- one in which they feel comfortable to be themselves and express their ideas and beliefs.

In a nation built on diversity, students should not feel that what makes them different is wrong and justifies language and actions that make them feel unsafe. In asking students and staff to acknowledge and respect safe spaces, it is not asking them to alter their thoughts, ideas or beliefs. Instead, it is simply asking them to respect people different from themselves who have ideas and beliefs different from their own.

While I strongly believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and has the right to express how they feel, I do not think that it justifies using hateful and derogatory language or intentionally trying to offend those around you. While many feel that people are often too sensitive and take offense too easily, it is important to remember that one does not get to decide how their words and actions affect others and whether or not they are offensive to anyone other than themselves.

Those who feel that safe spaces are not necessary are often people who have just never felt unsafe. However, just because you feel your safety is not compromised, it does not demean the necessity of safe spaces for those who do. Even though LT is a community that has well over 4,000 members, each member is equally as important. For this reason, if one person feels that they are unsafe the community is not doing its job to provide students and staff with a safe and healthy learning environment.

I do not feel that asking students to refrain from hateful and derogatory language and actions is an outrageous request, nor one that should be met with dismay and protest. As equal members of the LT community, everyone should feel that LT is a place in which they can be themselves and express their ideas without compromising their safety which is why students and staff need to be conscious of how their words and actions affect those around them.