Throughout America’s history, ideas have been constantly discussed and debated in open areas. America is a democracy and this country prides itself in the right to free speech. This free speech encourages Americans to voice their opinions and have open discussions. However, school systems have recently been issuing trigger warnings and “safe spaces” to protect students from ideas they may not want to hear. This contradicts what America was founded on; freedom. Trigger warnings and safe spaces have created an environment that discourages discussion and restricts free speech on college campuses.
These trigger warnings and safe spaces are distancing and hurting the community instead of strengthening it. All the top universities claim to be focused on creating a better and closer community. Although this may be their intent, they continue to distance the community by utilizing trigger warnings. Sarah Glacier explains how in 2015, a video leaked of some fraternity members at the University of Oklahoma singing in unison a song that contained a lot of racism, especially towards african americans. A law professor from Boston University claimed that although the act was not justifiable, it would stand in a first amendment case (par. 55-56). The intolerable act performed by the fraternity is something that students should be upset about and take action on. Shane Burley and Alexander Reid Ross along with many others all claim that the problem is “…the students will have to take responsibility for it, and the students are not willing to do that at this point” (par. 23). The millennials have been taught to hide away in the safe spaces instead of making a change that will strengthen the community. If these controversial subjects are openly discussed, a solution is more likely to be found. The students will be able to find a common ground on these subjects and eliminate the tension as it is discussed more and more. Overall, communities will be strengthened if the issue is talked about in productive conversations rather than ignoring the problem completely.
New ideas on sensitive topics are being oppressed in the education system, and this is due to trigger warnings and safe spaces. There have been many horrific events that have been taken place throughout human history. It is crucial that millennials are taught about this history and the mistakes within the education system. Chris Berg mentions that the education system is “not supposed to be a safe zone for comfort and emotional protection” (par. 19). For example, he mentions that if someone is “triggered by the racist language in Huckleberry Finn, they are not ready to study 19th century language” (par. 17). Safe spaces are prompting students to hide from education and anything relatively offensive. Learning from historical events and books is essential for the advancement of education and society. Not talking about these hostile subjects is creating distance within communities and encourages echo chambers. Bryan Stascavage, a well respected Iraq war veteran, was a victim of “safe space” fear. He wrote an article on the Black Lives Matter protests that have been happening recently but “a small group targeted the student newspaper for publishing an unpopular opinion” (par. 3). Stascavage posted an unpopular opinion and the students removed it because a lot of millennials are overly sensitive about the subject. The use of safe spaces have encouraged the millennials to hide from these issues instead of addressing them and attempting to create a solution to problems. The education system is failing to teach millennials to voice their opinion and have debates about contradicting opinions. The future leaders of America will not have any experience in debating policies because they have been taught to hide in “safe spaces” that do not exist in the real world.
There are many intolerable issues happening on college campuses but they are never discussed by the millennials that have been impacted because of safe spaces. Katie Byron argues in her article, “Millennials Are Creating a More Inclusive and Just World” that trigger warnings are a necessity for students who have been sexually assaulted and are traumatized by those events. She is correct to an extent and obviously these students should be protected. She releases an alarming stat that one-third of women on her campus have been sexually assaulted in some form (par. 1). The original intent for trigger warnings and safe spaces was to protect these students. However, Chris Burg continues to mention that the “safe spaces are morphing to unfinalized students hide from ideas” (par. 10). Sexual assault is a serious problem but encouraging students to not talk about the issue with safe spaces will never cause a solution to the problem. As challenging as it is, sexual assault needs to be talked about by the students in order for the problem to go away.
In conclusion, trigger warnings have slowed the advancement of education and has created an environment that discourages millennials from discussion and has restricted free speech on college campuses. Trigger warnings and safe spaces have been distancing the community and have not encouraged students to disengage in controversial conversations. They have oppressed new ideas and have created an echo chamber for any ideas that the majority disagrees with. Also, it is better to address problems and figure out a solution instead of being scared of hurting someone’s feelings or being offended. All in all, society as a whole and especially the education system would be better without trigger warnings and safe spaces.
Berg, Chris. “When ‘safe Spaces’ Become an Attack on Ideas.” ABC News. N.p., 16 Nov. 2015. Web. 07 Dec. 2016, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-17/berg-when-‘safe-spaces’-become-an-attack-on-ideas/6946534
Burley, Shane, and Alexander Reid Ross. “How the Alt Right Is Trying to Create a ‘safe Space’ for Racism on College Campuses.” Waging Nonviolence. N.p., 6 Oct. 2016. Web. 07 Dec. 2016, http://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/alt-right-safe-space-racism-college-campuses/
Byron, Katie. “Millennials Are Creating a More Inclusive and Just World” New York Times, n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/11/02/when-a-generation-becomes-less-tolerant-of-free-speech/millennials-are-creating-a-more-inclusive-and-just-world
Glazer, Sarah. “Free Speech on Campus.” CQ Researcher 8 May 2015: 409-32. Web. 7 Dec. 2016, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2015050800
Stascavage, Bryan. “The Problem With Echo Chambers on Campus and Beyond.” The New York Times, Room for Debate. 20 Mar. 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/11/02/when-a-generation-becomes-less-tolerant-of-free-speech/the-problem-with-echo-chambers-on-campus-and-beyond