What is a Safe Space?

Because I constantly face nagging from the side of my generation against the improvement of society, here I am talking about coddled college students again.

So much of society (or people on the internet) spend their days complaining about how college kids “need their safe spaces” these days. The theory is that we’re not going to make it in the real world because none of us know how to function without a “safe space,” and we’re too easily offended and so forth.

Wikipedia defines a safe space as:

“In educational institutions, safe-space (or safe space), safer-space, and positive space are terms used to indicate that a teacher, educational institution or student body does not tolerate anti-LGBT violence, harassment or hate speech, but rather is open and accepting, thereby creating a safe place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and all students.”

This is a little outdated, at least in my own definition, because now I think a safe space—or at least the safe spaces I know—are broadened to support anti-racism, anti-sexism, etc. Either way, the point of a safe space is to designate a space that is free from hate.  But there’s more. A safe space supports discussion, debate, and disagreement. A homophobic person is allowed in the safe space, but they’re not allowed to spew hatred when they come in. They can ask questions and try to seek understanding, but they should not come in with a closed mind.

We know the world is not a safe space. We see it every day on the news. How stupid do you think we are to think that we assume everyone is trying to make us comfortable when we pay witness to not just offensive words, but murders happening in our world because of sexuality or race or gender or ability.

What is the point of a safe space? The point is to try. If one room starts as a safe space then turns a whole college into a safe space which turns a town into a safe space, couldn’t the world eventually be a safe space? I know that is wishful thinking. Look at our presidential candidates.

Someone at my school said, “There are no safe spaces, there are only safer spaces,” and that is true. But when people say “there are no safe spaces, we just have to deal with that,” they are promoting violence. I understand where they are coming from. It is difficult to imagine a world where everyone gets along. Equality is a really big word. But why would you be complacent? Why are you okay with the fact that black men and women are being murdered for the color of their skin? Why are you okay with police officers shooting unarmed people in wheelchairs? Why is it acceptable for women to on average make 21 less cents per hour than men?

A safe space is not a bubble. A safe space is an opportunity to learn without being attacked. A safe space is not a barrier we put up so we don’t have to listen to oppression. A safe space is a hope that one day no one will be seen as inferior for things they cannot change. A safe space is not an attack on the freedom of speech. A safe space is a counter-strike on violence.

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