The University of Chicago has lowered itself, voluntarily, into a deep hole of unethical intolerance that it may never live out. Under the pretense that the University encourages students to “listen, challenge and learn without fear of censorship,” the institution declared they “do not support so called ‘trigger warnings,’” and they “do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces.’” The University proceeded to claim in the following paragraph that: “diversity of opinion and background is a fundamental strength of our community. The members of our community must have the freedom to espouse and explore a wide range of ideas.”
Maybe diversity was a strength of its community, until they released a letter targeted at condemning safe spaces. Safe spaces are an invaluable resource to people of diverse backgrounds who may not feel comfortable sharing their opinions due to staggering inequalities of all kinds on campus. What is even more surprising is that this statement is coming from a top-tier university in Chicago, one of the most racially divided cities in the country today.
Such a shameless disregard for sufferers of PTSD, survivors of sexual assault, those with mental illnesses, and those who rely on safe spaces and trigger warnings to thrive is a clear demonstration of indifference towards their opinions, and the diversity they could provide to the institution. If diversity of race, gender, sexuality, or opinion is desired, then you have to provide a space of healing for people whose difference is constantly reinforced by our prejudiced society, and this prejudiced institution. Perhaps, rather than focusing so much energy on students “fearing censorship,” the University of Chicago should focus their efforts on students who fear being underestimated because of their race, or students who fear for their safety after having been sexually assaulted and subsequently ignored by administrators.
Protecting free speech is the oldest excuse in the book that is now used recurrently by the conservative agenda for the purpose of spreading and thus normalizing offensive discourse. Now it is used to condemn a resource with which people subjected to such hateful remarks can learn to deal with discrimination in a healthy manner. Ironically, these safe spaces and trigger warnings only exist because immediate action against discriminatory remarks is so hard to accomplish, and continues to be delayed by bigoted actions like those of the University of Chicago.