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U. Chicago Dean to Freshmen: No Safe Spaces Here

U. Chicago Dean to Freshmen: No Safe Spaces Here

“We do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial.”

The University of Chicago has been hailed for its commitment to free speech by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) since January of 2015.

Now, the school is in the news because of a letter given to incoming Freshmen.

Heat Street reports:

University of Chicago to Incoming Freshmen: Don’t Expect ‘Safe Spaces’ Here

The University of Chicago, one of America’s most prestigious and selective universities, is warning incoming students starting this fall not to expect safe spaces and a trigger-free existence during their four-year journey through academia.

In a letter sent to the class of 2020, university officials said one of the defining characteristics of the school was its unwavering commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression. Civility and mutual respect are vital to the campus culture, the letter states, but not at the expense of shielding students from unpopular opinions or ideas.

“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called “trigger warnings,” we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual “safe spaces” where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own,” the letter states…

Safe spaces, where students can shelter from ideas or expression they find discomforting, are the other trend du jour on some campuses. Brown University last year turned a room on campus into a safe space by outfitting it with cookies, coloring books, soft music, pillows and a video of frolicking puppies, along with trauma counselors, after students complained that a speaker invited to campus would be too upsetting.

The University of Chicago is having none of it. To drive home the point, the letter to students includes a link to a report on freedom of expression issued by the university in January 2015. The report quotes a former president of the University, Hanna Holborn Gray, as saying that “education should not be intended to make people comfortable, it is meant to make them think.

The College Fix makes the point that this is about treating adult college students like adults:

In a welcome letter to the class of 2020, University of Chicago leaders put the smack down on safe spaces and trigger warnings. The letter is quickly spreading across the Internet, because it plainly states what should be common knowledge and universally accepted and embraced at all universities: This is college, not preschool.

The Chicago Maroon shared an image of the letter on Twitter:

Here’s a larger version you can click on to enlarge and read:

University of Chicago letter

We need more of this in American higher education.

The University of Chicago’s policy should be the rule, not the exception.

Featured image is a screen cap.


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Excellent! Now, if they just have the stones to make it so.

(See what I did for you Star Trek fans…???)

To think, three years ago, “trigger warning” and “safe space” definitions didn’t even exist. Now we have the president of a prestigious university warning the snowflakes not to expect it there. How far we have fallen, if we must applaud a university president for telling these children to act like adults.

Finally someone with the stones to say what needs to be said. By the way snowflakes, the world is a place without “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces.” The sooner you learn that the better it will be for you.

I know people who need trigger warnings, but sometimes, they don’t know they need them. I’m talking about people who were abused or otherwise traumatized as children. Factually, each trauma victim’s trauma is different, so one person might be triggered by a certain smell, another by dark hairy hands, another by a certain sound, unless you know them, and they tell you, you probably can’t guess all their triggers.

These are triggers from their experience, not from any political idea. Seems they just hijacked those with actual triggers and transferred them to politics to get the upper hand. Screw them.

I had on acquaintance who was triggered when he read the detailed message header on an email, and in that LONG STRING of apparently random characters, he found three letters that were in the name of his alternate personality. Crazy….

Frustrating people to deal with, all the way around.

    Mannie in reply to CloseTheFed. | August 26, 2016 at 8:56 am

    And there is really no way to protect them from their trigger warnings. Most of them are like landmines. The first thing you know about them, is that your toes are whistling past your ears.

By the way, if you are a male survivor of childhood trauma, I recommend http://www.MaleSurvivor.Org.

Oh, and I applied to the University of Chicago, and I don’t think they even opened my letter. :^(

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to CloseTheFed. | August 25, 2016 at 10:05 am

    You shouldn’t have even had to apply. They know you’re a special person and should have sought you out!

    /must I? :-{)}}

Good to have a nice clear statement from one of the heavyweight schools.

Now to wait and see if Dean Ellison resigns soon.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to tom swift. | August 25, 2016 at 10:16 am

    He won’t, at least not voluntarily. He’d tell those making the demands that – if they are students – they are free to shut up, or to pick up their transcripts on their way off campus. If staff (or staph) make the demands, he’d tell them they are free to resign any time. That, or get back to their departments and do their jobs.

buckeyeminuteman | August 25, 2016 at 10:23 am

Given Chicago’s murder rate and outright ban on firearms and thus self defense, I wouldn’t call the university a safe space either.

The left will not let this threat stand. They depend on victims and cowards and snowflakes.

Thanks for featuring this Aleister. I teach at U of C, and I’m quite proud and pleased with our university’s stance.

By the way, read the comments section at the Chicago Maroon twitter site that you linked — humorous to see the usual SJW responses.

Those who are triggered by rigorous, polite intellectual debate should perhaps matriculate elsewhere — Chicago is not the place for them. Perhaps they should go to Yale?

A thought on “safe spaces”: perhaps the other campuses could have signs, much like the old “fallout shelters” during the Cold War, to let students know where they can dash if they need a quick safe space.

I’m just trying to be helpful 🙂

I am an alumnus. Clearly the U of C is better than most leading universities. While academic freedom is prized and protected, they do have something called a Bias Response Team. It seems to focus on microaggressions rather than academic issues – stuff like fraternity members dressing up in sombreros for a costume party. How did we ever get by without a Bias Response Team in the sixties? Make no mistake, this institution is viscerally progressive even if other points of view are tolerated.

BTW, stevewhitemd is quite correct about the neighborhood. Hyde Park-Kenwood is thoroughly gentrified and the university has worked at achieving this for the last 50 years. Just don’t wander off in the middle of the night in the wrong direction.

Are they prepared to discipline students that try to shout down speakers they don’t like? Do they have a speech code? I’ll believe they’re serious about this when I see some concrete steps toward academic freedom.

UofC is no doubt battle hardened after thriving for years on the South Side. Any notions of safe spaces will probably be gone by the time you get there anyway.

    Josephblieu in reply to jack burns. | August 25, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    The U of C is where fun goes to die (TM). This is the place that is too smart to play football and hosted the first uranium based critical reactor. It was originally a Baptist university funded by Rockefeller. East ivys are powerless before it.