Thanks for this post! I think we’re on a pretty similar page re: TW and the extent to which worst-case TW scenarios are grounded in reality & etc, so I’ll just move along to your points/thoughts about safe spaces.

I think the problem here is that UofC used the term “Intellectual Safe Spaces”, which is, basically, not a thing that exists at all anywhere. Safe spaces are generally outside of the classroom, optional, and run by student organizations or individual professors. They exist to serve social and emotional needs, often for students who are of a marginalized group — for example, LGBT groups, group therapy, activist meetings, black student unions, etc. What’s “safe” about them is that hate speech and other triggering material is strongly discouraged or banned within those confines; in addition, faculty who make their offices “safe spaces” or who contribute to safe space clubs/groups generally are there to show that they are allies or members of the marginalized group who “get it”.

From what you’re saying, it sounds like you’re completely in support of things like that, but you also think it’s important that the classroom remain a diverse, sometimes challenging learning environment. I agree. Providing emotional and social resources outside of the classroom for students who are marginalized is possible without any silencing taking place in the classroom. The data on safe spaces is a bit trickier to track down, since any faculty member’s office can be deemed (by the faculty member) a “safe space”, but as far as I can tell, this is how they usually function, including at UofC. And these kinds of safe spaces appear to be qualitatively different from whatever the heck an “intellectual safe space” is, which seems to be a false specter UofC’s deans have concocted.

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