Assignment: Write a 4-5 page argumentative paper on the following topic Should Colleges Offer Safe Spaces for Students? from The Bedford Reader. Use the following articles from The Bedford Reader to support your thesis and claims: “Weary Oracle” by Dawn Lundy Martin, “Blanket Security” by Thomas Chatterton Williams, and “What Happened to Free Speech on College Campuses?” by Sarah Hemphill. You must have two quotes from each of the three articles in The Bedford Reader related to your topic.
Student Name __________________
5 July 2020
Should Colleges Offer Safe Spaces for Students?
It does not necessarily follow that exercising freedom of speech can automatically lead to the minorities change of their attitude towards speech that can be construed as derogatory, may the insult be expressly put or implied. Instead expression of free speech may inadvertently confirm and emphasize the presumed injurious effect in the conscious eye of the affected victim. This is because as the old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The same can be said of what constitutes an insult or simply a derogatory remark. This essay therefore, supports the call to provide safe spaces on campus. University communities therefore, should show sympathy towards students who may be suffering from “race trauma” (Martin 548).
Arguably, it is the wearer of the shoe who knows where it pinches. The sensitivity with which victims who have ever face or witnessed racial segregation cannot be downplayed. Recounting Martin’s mother’s story and that she recounts witnessing the lynching of blacks, and that it could be done at times (Marting 549) the writer brings the reader to the sensitivity free derogatory speech can cause, if entertained in Universities without control. This is because victims who have experienced racial segregation cannot take the vile lightly. It is from these perspective therefore that Martin appear to advocate for safe spaces for students.
There cannot be freedom of speech that vilifies, others in the guise of freedom of self-expression. Any act of free expression should be interterm with the law and in addition should bear the spirit of political correctness that minds other people’s feelings based on race, creed, gender or any other factor that can define sensitivity in how others may treat such a speech. It may not sound insulting to a white speaker who may refer to a black in a condescending language until the same is exercised on oneself. Therefore, the introduction of policies that facilitate for safe spaces was in order. This may have to do with control of the damage that the uncontrolled speeches and lack of being sensitive of others caused the minorities before the introduction of such policies.
For peaceful coexistence, social harmony and unity between students such policies are needed because in the long run they check the unforeseeable violence that can erupt between students possibly leading to even death just as a result of irresponsible speech in the name of freedom of expression. Gone are the days when blacks would be insulted and they just remain mute and meek. Provision of policies that entrench the spirit of politeness and the need to be sensitive of others is not a denial of freedom of expression but it is an act of checking irresponsible speech that could arguably be said to violate logic, and social ethos.
It is no longer taken easily to entertain sexist language in most communities in the world today, including United states. Uttering taboo and obscene words with regard to members of the opposite sex is frowned upon and such utterances cannot represent anyone’s freedom of expression at the expense of others. That what is construed to be injurious and has been deemed so even in the law should be protected and safeguarded least we revert to the gender and racial violence and injustices of the past.
With this in mind, this essay completely opposes the assumption of total and absolute freedom of speech which can be construed as derogatory. “Universities, especially public, taxpayer-funded ones, should have no right to limit free speech and discourage ways of thinking that are not in line with the “status quo” (Hemphill 561). It is the foreseeability of such platitudes in the guise of freedom therefore that most Universities have embraced policies that provide for safe spaces. Without to which carelessness and recklessness which Hemphill advocates for can lead to ruin and total chaos in Universities.
Her argument that, “anti-speech policies, safe spaces, and trigger warnings, students are not prepared for the rigors and realities of the real world” The real world doesn’t give students a safe space or protections against things they find offensive is founded on ignorance based on the justification she provides for her premise that “The real world doesn’t give students a safe space or protections against things they find offensive” (Hemphill 561). The society provides ethos through which all people should live by and this can be sighted for instance in the traffic rules. There can never exist a driver who exercises her freedom to such an extent that she has the right to go knocking pedestrians on the road. Hemphill conclusion of a situation of absolute freedom is a conclusion that operates on the assumptions of a hyperbole.
However, the need to be sensitive of others should not open a Pandora’s box for everyone to treat every situation with fear, anxiety, worry, and hence lead to self-inflicted unnecessary psychological torture. Although there is need for safe for students in campuses, the same should not be exaggerated to an extent that anyone who feel violated results to a state of fathoming microaggression (Williams 553)
As a way of making concession therefore, a balance need to be established between both extremes, one where the said victims crave for safe spaces to an extent of causing themselves unrealistic psychological harm (William 554) on the one hand, and the extreme violence (Hemphill 561) in the guise of the outside world. The position each of the three writers appear to advocate for cannot be adopted fully without the considering the divergent opinions of the other two writers. This therefore creates a situation that calls for the need to invite all the possible schools of thought that appear to have a stake on this issue. By inviting the necessity to provide for safe spaces, (Martin 548) there is need to ensure that the very provision doesn’t become the breeding space for the very behavior of us versus them. This can be ensured by encouraging the counselling among students so that those who came from contexts that warrant the safe space may not exaggerate the sensitivity with which speech in campuses need to be treated on the one hand. On the other hand, those who do not advocate for the safe spaces on the other hand need to be reminded that freedom and its very exercise cannot be void of responsibility. This is witnessed in the speech correctness of any invited speaker where invited speakers regardless of their divergent positions and opinions on issue (Hemphill 560) does not necessarily boil down to what can be construed as hate speech. Arguably, (Hemphill 561) therefore appear to quote John Ellison out of context. Ellison accommodation of free speech cannot be misconstrued to have implied absolute disregard of social ethos as evidenced in Hemphill assumption that the real world is insensitive to social ethos (Hemphill 561).
In conclusion this assay therefore would advocate for freedom that exercises empathy, not necessarily sympathy. The university communities in their dire craving for freedom for self-expression should thus exercise the safe freedom with a sense of decorum. At the same time, minorities and all members who may yearn for safe spaces should do so without unnecessary self-inflicted fear and anxiety but instead should equally reach out and try to fit in in the larger university community by embracing where the others are coming from without narcissistic misreading of others.
Hemphill, Sarah. “What Happened to Free Speech on College Campuses?” The Brief Bedford Reader. 14.Ed. Macmillan Learning, 2020.
Martin, Dawn Lundy. “Weary Oracle”, The Brief Bedford Reader. 14.Ed. Macmillan Learning, 2020.
Williams, Thomas Chatterton. “Blanket Security” The Brief Bedford Reader. 14.Ed. Macmillan Learning, 2020.