Floating in Safe Spaces: The Danger of College Bubbles
It sounds too nice. “Safe space” gives off a positive vibe that snatches students’ attention. After all, who doesn’t want to feel safe? Who doesn’t want to feel free to express their thoughts without any backlash? The lack of opposition appears both protective and liberating – to the point that some consider it healthy or perhaps a human right. So how does this settle in reality? In other words, how do people hold up without resistance?
Let’s consider the human body in outer space, an environment without gravity, the most well-known physical constraint. Dr. Iddo Magen from the Davidson Institute of Science Education writes that without dedicated exercise, “astronauts may lose up to 20 percent of their muscle mass within 5-11 days.” Muscles that are used more often, such as the back and leg muscles, lose their mass more rapidly than others. In addition, bones weaken and the heart slowly degenerates from not pumping the usual amount of blood. Returning to earth isn’t an easy or swift adjustment either. It takes exercise, special care, and weeks in order for the body to regain its strength and return to regular processes. The human body is built to function with gravity. Without this natural resistance, it degenerates, according to Magen.
Safe spaces intend to inhibit mental resistance regardless of the crippling consequences. It doesn’t take long for people to realize that safe spaces are zones that need regulation to keep it functioning as intended. The world is simply full of people with different experiences, religions, knowledge and opinions. It is only natural to encounter disagreement. Therefore, safe spaces not only claim a small area when compared to the rest of the world, but attempt to create an unnatural area. Expecting people to have the same opinions isn’t just unrealistic – it’s dangerous. When students begin to think a differing opinion is harmful, they avoid it or try to suppress it. When they begin to equate vocal opposition with physical opposition, they think of violence as a justifiable tool. They become an oppressor of free speech – fooling themselves into thinking that shutting people down for their opinions is self-defense.
Safe spaces have a nasty habit of implying that opposing ideas are somehow unsafe. In college, students aim to improve their interaction with the world through their education. In a safe space, the student isn’t preparing to interact with society; they are preparing to avoid it. The lack of disagreement – a natural component of society and relationships – leads to snowflake syndrome, characterized by a clear lack of emotional intelligence.
Even when taking students with anxieties or phobias into account, the safe space mentality doesn’t help. It’s known that gradually exposing people with phobias and unreasonable fears to the source of fear or trauma helps them to conquer it. A safe space doesn’t make a good “healing space” for sensitive individuals, much less a kind of “prep space” for the real world. Safe spaces discourage their users from gaining the knowledge, critical reasoning skills and social-emotional intelligence that all comes from encountering different opinions. They contradict the basic purposes of colleges. By using physical boundaries within a college to silence voices of different opinions, safe spaces violate platforms that people could be using to contribute to the diversity of ideas. It’s time for universities to recognize that having their students float around in a fake mental utopia will never enable them to stand on their own two feet, much less make a decent life for themselves.