College Campus’ “Safe Spaces” Only Treat the Symptoms

By KATIE CORT ’19 
Contributing Writer
The first thing I think of when someone says “safe space” is the Action Bronson incident from last spring.  To recap, Trinity hired Action Bronson to perform during Spring Weekend, but canceled his performance when it became known that some of his lyrics glorify or downplay the seriousness of rape Some people argued that Bronson is an artist and actually has no real intentions of committing rape. Conversely, many others were very upset by the choice to hire him.
It is understandable that people would be offended by these lyrics and that they would hold Trinity accountable for sponsoring him. I prefer not to take sides, as I was not a big fan of Bronson’s music regardless and despised it even more after hearing that vile song. However, I do not think that college should always be a “safe space.”
The Bronson incident opened up discussion about matters that often are swept under the rug, such as sexual assault and rape. Instead of pretending like these issues do not exist and merely shooing Bronson away because he raps about rape in a song, we need real discussion about these topics. Clearly, people have a lot to say about it.
While sexual abuse and rape are two huge issues on college campuses, it seems like most of the time these issues are ignored or kept hush-hush. The Bronson concert opened up the floor to discuss this topic, which I think should happen more often. “Safe spaces,” which are meant to be places of tolerance and acceptance, generate a concept of shelter or protection from the outside world. People in a “safe space” are in a bubble, insulated from things that offend or scare them. I think feeling safe on campus is something of utmost importance. It should be a basic human right to feel safe. However, living only in a “safe space” fosters disconnect from the outside world.
In the real world, there are always going to be events and words that offend people. It is impossible to go through life being completely unaffected. The truth is, regardless of intent or circumstance, someone is always going to be offended by something. There is no stopping that. So, instead of promoting “safe spaces,” why don’t we have more discussions and information about controversial topics?
College kids should not be sheltered. Maybe it is more appropriate for students in grade school, but we are grown-ups now, or at least we are trying to be. The next step after college is the real world, which is a scary place. In the real world, there are no “safe spaces.” People will offend you, disagree with you, and say things that you do not like. This is part of life and we need to accept that. It can be easy to get offended by something, but it is the way we react to the offense that reveals the most about our character. If someone calls me a name, or says I am not good enough, I will be offended and hurt at first. Then, I could react in two different ways: I could let it get me down for days, or I could hold my head high and get on with life. People will always have something bad to say about you and I have realized that building up a thick skin and having confidence is the best way to navigate those situations. Instead of always trying to be a people-pleaser, make good relationships, study hard, and do what you love.
College students should be the least sheltered from the realities of the world of anyone. After college, we will not live in such an insular world. We should learn how to prevent against being easily offended and instead be open to sharing out thoughts on controversies. We will not be protected from these issues outside of college, so why now?
Obviously everyone wants to feel safe, comfortable and happy all the time, but it can be good to be pushed out of our comfort zones. The world will not cater to one person’s specific fears. There is no censorship. The Bronson incident here at Trinity is only one example of a social problem that touches many people and carries a lot of emotional weight.
While I do not think Bronson has a place here at Trinity, I think more people should be talking about rape. Instead of only treating the symptoms, we need to find real ways to mitigate the rape culture that makes artists like Bronson think it is acceptable to make light of such a serious issue. The same is true for other controversial topics that people ignore because they are taboo and hard to face. As college students, we should be exposed to things that make us uncomfortable because in the real world no one is going to make “safe spaces” for us.

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