USD prides itself on supporting the First Amendment, words of which are proudly displayed on the front of the Al Neuharth Media Center.
While USD supports freedom of speech unquestionably, I can’t fathom how college campuses across the country are creating designated, little spots to avoid offending others. These areas are considered safe spaces, tabooing certain triggering words and phrases in its enclosed area. In reality, a safe space should be called a “feelings circle.”
College students who are pushing for a feelings circle seem to choose hearing potentially controversial words over receiving a quality education and utilizing free speech. Everything in college is about having different opinions and debates. It’s how we best learn other perspectives and figure out our own. But safe spaces infringe upon these benefits.
I grew up a few hours from Columbia, Missouri, where The University of Missouri is located. During my senior year, they had “the uprising.” Ironically, a school group I was in took a trip to MU, and they have a “free speech zone” on campus where everyone has free speech. Last year, Mizzou saw major repercussions after implementing safe spaces. According to some news outlets, the backlash from students even became violent.
As a journalism student who considered going to MU, I didn’t even bother applying after the safe space drama. In fact, my fellow peers that ended up attending MU got emails saying that the staff hoped they had not changed their minds on the school. What would my future employers think of me if they were to see “University of Missouri 2020” on my application? Would they think I was fighting for a feelings circle, or would they know I think it’s a big joke to have a safe space?
At USD, we are fortunate enough to have free speech. We have the privilege of living in America, where we can virtually say whatever we want to say. People today probably don’t fully understand that generations of men and women had to fight and die for us to keep that right.
These amazingly selfless military veterans die for us, and yet college students and faculty across the country create a feelings circle so they don’t upset anybody. I’m sure these soldiers didn’t enjoy being in a war zone, millions of miles away from their families, but they didn’t want a feelings circle. Also, the safe zone is completely against the First Amendment, taking someone’s rights away because another person can’t handle unfiltered conversation.
For those who can’t stand to hear the differing opinions around them, they will remain ignorant and stubborn in their ways, theoretically sticking their fingers in their ears to block out the world’s daily dialogue.
They limit themselves when they never become exposed to new ideas and perspectives that could potentially sound controversial. Avoiding the uncomfortable will ultimately be more harmful to not just those affected, but everybody. Real life is not filtered.