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Safe Spaces - November 2017

posted Nov 25, 2017, 9:12 AM by RSO The Fenwick Review
By Cameron Smith '20

In an age of expanding liberal ideology, the idea of a “safe space” has become a major topic of conversation at our college. In the recent past, in the face of conservative political victories, the administration of our institution has felt the need to offer “safe spaces,” defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as being areas where students can escape “potentially threatening actions, ideas, or conversations,” such as opposing values, to students who may feel uncomfortable or distressed with the current political situation. A perfect example of this was when President Donald Trump’s decision to potentially overturn DACA was publicly announced. The college quickly responded to the situation by sending out an email to the student body, offering a “safe space” for students that were upset about the decision and sending a message of supporting the “Dreamers” against our country’s President. The school immediately took a political stance on the issue and had no qualms about making its position clear to the whole of the student body, while deciding to provide services to “help” people of the same viewpoint.

However, these “safe spaces” for liberal-leaning students are not doing anything to strengthen equality and diversity at Holy Cross. Instead, the College is simply giving these students an escape from having to interact with people of different viewpoints. By allowing one group to completely ignore and escape conversation with the other, the institution has effectively split the student body based on political ideology. If Holy Cross truly wants to have the diverse and united student body it claims to have, then it needs to seriously think about the results of the actions the administration has taken regarding recent political events. Instead of allowing one group to run away and stop any discourse with those who may not agree with them, the institution should instead sponsor discussions between the two groups to start respectful conversations. Perhaps then, people on both sides would better understand why each person thinks the way that they do.

Especially at such a tense time in politics, when people have even begun to see people of the other political party as being less than human, it is more important than ever to try and appeal to both sides and start cordial discussions. As we’ve seen following recent events, people have started to become more and more hostile to the opposing political side. One example of this is when former CBS executive Hayley Geftman-Gold took to Facebook after the deadliest mass shooting in United States history took place at a country music festival in Las Vegas, saying: “I’m actually not even sympathetic [because] country music fans often are Republican gun toters." Ideas like this one stem not only from a complete disregard for people who have different views, but also from a lack of understanding of what others truly believe in. Democrats often see Republicans as being racists and white supremacists who care nothing for the poor, while Republicans often look at Democrats as being corrupt, adverse to personal rights, and focused too much on tearing hardworking people down. These views of the political sides have held fast over time as a result of a failure to communicate effectively between members of the two parties, even though these two perceptions are both incorrect.

This is especially apparent here at Holy Cross, as the contention between liberal and conservative students can clearly be seen, not to mention the professors that often try to preach their liberal ideals and make jokes or comments about the President to the class as a part of their course material. The divide among the members of the Holy Cross community is only growing stronger as time goes on, and it is up to the administration to try and stop its progression. If we want to have the strong, unified and loving community we were all promised before we applied here, we need to have a much better understanding of one another, as well as more opportunities to have positive discussions between members of all of the political groups on campus.

If there was ever a time when “safe spaces” would tear apart the community the most, now is that time. We need to promote working together for a better understanding and having conversations, not advocating for these “safe spaces” to help liberal students escape discussions that they are afraid of having. Holy Cross needs to get rid of these “safe spaces,” try to foster stronger relationships between the students, and make the student body once again proud to stand united as the Holy Cross Crusaders. As a Catholic college, I would expect Holy Cross to try to bridge the gap between neighbors, and it is a shame that as of right now it is doing the opposite and pushing them further away from a mutual understanding.
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