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Old 25 August 2016, 03:25 PM
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Teacher U Chicago to Freshmen: Don't Expect Safe Spaces

Looking for safe spaces on campus or trigger warnings on a syllabus?
Incoming students at the University of Chicago have been warned they won't find either in Hyde Park.
They all received a letter recently from John Ellison, dean of students, which went beyond the usual platitudes of such letters and made several points about what he called one of Chicago's "defining characteristics," which he said was "our commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression." Ellison said civility and respect are "vital to all of us," and people should never be harassed. But he added, "You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort."

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/...igger-warnings
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  #2  
Old 25 August 2016, 06:20 PM
Coughdrops Coughdrops is offline
 
 
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Finally!

I hope that once people experience actual debate and realize "Hey, that didn't kill me or give me PTSD." This whole trigger warning and safe space nonsense can be left behind.
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  #3  
Old 25 August 2016, 06:24 PM
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Once again proving that you have no clue (or pretend to not have clue) about what a safe space or trigger warning is.
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  #4  
Old 25 August 2016, 06:27 PM
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I don't know why I came into this thread expecting anything different.
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  #5  
Old 25 August 2016, 06:28 PM
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If you have a different definition of these things then please list them. Maybe we can have a debate instead of a "Who can make the edgiest insult" contest here for once.

The reason why I'm so against SJWs misusing the idea of "Triggers" or outright misrepresenting the sickness that is PTSD is the fact that when they do so, they piss all over people who can barely function in a regular day-to-day life after having suffered something so terrible, so painful and so stressful that their brain will never fully overcome it.

But no, someone disagreed on twitter with (g)you and maybe even called you a name, now you've got PTSD and we have to mind your Triggers? You need safe spaces were thoughtcrime is forbidden?

Utter nonsense from special snowflakes who have likely never experienced what it's like not to get their way, much less actual oppression. The sooner society at large tells them to grow up the better.

Last edited by Coughdrops; 25 August 2016 at 06:37 PM.
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Old 25 August 2016, 06:54 PM
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Here's an Atlantic article that I found interesting.
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  #7  
Old 25 August 2016, 07:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DawnStorm View Post
Here's an Atlantic article that I found interesting.
That has been a very influential article on the subject. It gets cited often.

The term "Safe Spaces" is one I've seen attached to a variety of definitions. Is the entire campus a Safe Space, or are only parts of it? Who decides?

If the entire campus is a safe space and student group invites a speaker who's ideas are rejected by an upsetting to many other students, should that speaker still be allowed to speak? Is it appropriate to shout over the speaker?

If a student is posting fliers around campus, should the student avoid posting the fliers near areas more frequently used by those students who might be upset by the fliers?

Should students from less privileged social/racial backgrounds get more leeway than students from more traditionally powerful social/racial backgrounds in inviting controversial speakers or advocating controversial ideas? For instance, if an African American student group invites an outspoken person to present on behalf of Black Lives Matter, can the Campus Republicans invite an outspoken Law Enforcement Officer to present on behalf of Blue Lives Matter?
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Old 25 August 2016, 07:51 PM
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Sigh, I knew which Atlantic article it was before I even clicked it. For some reason the Atlantic has led the charge against student protests and this article is one I see shared a lot - by people 30 and up of course, wondering why those kids today are so rowdy and yet somehow coddled and swaddled?

Just like the OP dean. Not shockingly, I found a blog that pointed out that contrary to the letter's claims, U of Chicago has a very strong anti-free speech policy and heavily restricts the free exchange of ideas with the threat of expulsion.

https://academeblog.org/2016/08/25/d...ee-expression/
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Old 25 August 2016, 07:55 PM
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I'm confused, since you're over 30 are we supposed to dismiss the link to the blog you've posted?
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  #10  
Old 25 August 2016, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Rebochan View Post
U of Chicago has a very strong anti-free speech policy and heavily restricts the free exchange of ideas with the threat of expulsion.

https://academeblog.org/2016/08/25/d...ee-expression/
The article discusses the "Involuntary Leave of Absence" in tones that are contrary to what is advocated by advocates for sexual assault victims. If the Involuntary Leave of Absence did not exist, would the school be able to expel students accused of sexual assault but who have not yet been convicted?

Quote:
The purpose of this policy is probably to allow the University of Chicago to expel students who have suicidal thoughts, so that the University doesn’t have to deal with the nuisance or can force them to get medical treatment. But the way it’s written, it gives the Dean of Students total arbitrary power to expel students without a hearing, on extremely vague grounds, and without the right of appeal. If you are arrested for any crime, if your conduct “raises concerns” about the “well-being” of anyone, if you cause “significant disruption” (whatever that means) you can be banned from campus without a hearing or appeal.
You realize that this is exactly what feminists have pressured Universities to do with students accused of sexual assault?
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  #11  
Old 25 August 2016, 08:24 PM
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I was going to post the story myself on my (late day) lunch hour. I'm glad to see Sue beat me to it and it has generated some talk here.

Put me down as congratulating the University of Chicago on this one. After more than 25 years working in higher ed, I'm truly worried for anyone who spent their college years in a campus-wide safe space, and worried for a society made up of those people. If colleges and universities are expected to actually educate their students, not just train them or - as many students expect - just pass them so they can graduate, then they must expose those students to a wide variety of ideas, most of which will be - and should be - rejected. But an educated person rejects those ideas because they have inspected them closely and understand them, not because they have avoided what makes them uncomfortable.

I am not blind to the possibility that certain things may be actual PTSD triggers to some students. But one cannot avoid all the possible things that might fall into that category. (If a student does have an actual condition that would require an accommodation that avoided certain triggers, that must be dealt with on an individual level.) Nor am I blind to the concept of politeness when presenting opposing viewpoints or material that could be anticipated as disturbing to significant numbers. But I don't believe politeness can be imposed on campus any more than it can be imposed in the world at large. (And I apologize to anyone offended by my metaphorical use of the word "blind".)

Feel free to disagree. I would be a hypocrite if I said otherwise.
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Old 25 August 2016, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Coughdrops View Post

But no, someone disagreed on twitter with (g)you and maybe even called you a name, now you've got PTSD and we have to mind your Triggers?
You're right, claiming you've got PTSD just because you were offended is disgusting! Please link an example of somebody doing that so I can tut at them directly!

If it happens often it must be easy to find a real world example. Right?

Incidentally, my definition of a 'safe space' is either a) an environment that promises no harassment or no tolerance for harassment or b) a designated area apart from a bigger space where somebody who may be severely distressed by a subject or attitude in the bigger space can retreat.

I'm guessing it's the latter you and others have a problem with, but I've really only ever seen the term used in that context when rape is the, ahem, 'controversial' subject. You're laying the slippery slope fallacy on thick if you think that safe spaces will result in people demanding 'disagreement free' campuses

I don't know if this relates to safe spaces, but I would definitely have benefited from a 'quiet room' when I went to college. My social anxiety was nearing its peak and I was having panic attacks in the toilets (where I had to try not to make a sound just in case anybody 'hassled' me by asking if I was OK). I dropped out because I couldn't take it any more. I wonder if I might have stayed if there was a more acceptable retreat where I could have caught my breath and returned to class when I was feeling calmer.

Forcing people to put up with anxiety and embarrassment because they're more distressed than others by a particular topic or situation seems counterproductive to their education.
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  #13  
Old 25 August 2016, 08:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChasFink View Post

I am not blind to the possibility that certain things may be actual PTSD triggers to some students. But one cannot avoid all the possible things that might fall into that category. (If a student does have an actual condition that would require an accommodation that avoided certain triggers, that must be dealt with on an individual level.) Nor am I blind to the concept of politeness when presenting opposing viewpoints or material that could be anticipated as disturbing to significant numbers. But I don't believe politeness can be imposed on campus any more than it can be imposed in the world at large. (And I apologize to anyone offended by my metaphorical use of the word "blind".)
You've hit on the one thing in all this that bothers me most. Politeness seems to be a one way street in this debate. Those screaming expletives into the faces of professors and other university people with whom they disagree are, apparently, given a pass here when it comes to behaving like adults who can interact with others in a mature and responsible manner.
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  #14  
Old 25 August 2016, 08:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blatherskite View Post
Incidentally, my definition of a 'safe space' is either a) an environment that promises no harassment or no tolerance for harassment or b) a designated area apart from a bigger space where somebody who may be distressed by a subject or attitude in the bigger space can retreat to in order to avoid said distress.

I'm guessing it's the latter you and others have a problem with...
This wasn't aimed at me, but I feel compelled to state that I have no problem with "safe spaces" as designated distress-free zones. In fact I think it's a great idea. What I object to is the concept that a whole college must be an environment free of controversial, unpopular, or potentially disturbing content.
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Old 25 August 2016, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by ChasFink View Post
This wasn't aimed at me, but I feel compelled to state that I have no problem with "safe spaces" as designated distress-free zones. In fact I think it's a great idea. What I object to is the concept that a whole college must be an environment free of controversial, unpopular, or potentially disturbing content.
The thing of it is, though, I don't think anyone is actually advocating for this. I'm also a university educator, have been for 15+ years on four different campuses, and I've never seen this (often characterized) faint-hearted liberal who can't stand an opposing conservative view.

Personally, I teach all sides of a discussion. The most pushback I've ever received on how I chose my content is 100% from the more conservative students who hated learning the true definition of feminism or any discussion where socialism isn't just dismissed outright as unAmerican.
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  #16  
Old 25 August 2016, 09:23 PM
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You're right, claiming you've got PTSD just because you were offended is disgusting! Please link an example of somebody doing that so I can tut at them directly!
He is probably referring to Melody Hensley.
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  #17  
Old 25 August 2016, 09:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellestar View Post
The most pushback I've ever received on how I chose my content is 100% from the more conservative students who hated learning the true definition of feminism or any discussion where socialism isn't just dismissed outright as unAmerican.
That pretty much describes my teaching experience as well. I never saw this as a liberal-only matter, nor one originating large numbers of students. Rather, it seems some institutions, fearing potential lawsuits from students who've led sheltered lives - or the parents who sheltered them - have set up rules that basically say "you can't offend anyone on our campus". (Sorry I can't come up with concrete examples right now, but I have read/seen several news stories to that effect over the years.) There have been real cases to justify their fears, such as one student at a university where I worked who took a World Cinema course and claimed she was deeply offended by the sexual content of a well-known foreign film she saw in class (Seven Beauties, IIRC).

Although that school usually defended academic freedom in these cases, it sometimes bowed down to other complaints that were not directly related to academics - a painting that hung in a study lounge for about a decade until someone mentioned that a detail kinda sorta looked looked a man having sex with a dog, and an art piece in the shape of a large ball apparently made of American flags standing on the ground were both removed from public view shortly after the complaints. The latter complaint came from someone who was just driving past the campus, so fear of bad publicity may have also played a part. I can imagine it wouldn't take very much to tip the scales on that campus to make the administration far more afraid of offending people.

BTW, I should point out that there is another type of safe space I do endorse, and was an active participant in - designated areas where LGBTQ students (and others, for that matter) could feel free to be themselves. But this was not about a safe haven retreat, but more about labeling certain offices as places where they could feel accepted by the people who worked there and didn't have to play straight to avoid being judged as sinners/freaks/etc.
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Old 25 August 2016, 10:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coughdrops View Post
The reason why I'm so against SJWs misusing the idea of "Triggers" or outright misrepresenting the sickness that is PTSD is the fact that when they do so, they piss all over people who can barely function in a regular day-to-day life after having suffered something so terrible, so painful and so stressful that their brain will never fully overcome it.
I find your characterization of people living with PTSD quite offensive on multiple levels.

The letter referred to in the OP was, in my opinion, a needlessly antagonistic tone to take. If a problem arises locally, it can be addressed locally when it happens. This is more like giving a lecture at a wedding about not beating your spouse. Of course one shouldn't beat one's spouse, and yes, it is a sadly common thing. But why say that pre-emptively at a wedding?

Welcome to the University of Chicago, kids!
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Old 25 August 2016, 11:04 PM
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A University should be an open minded place of discourse, debate and -you guessed it- free speech. When a University starts to shut out certain thoughts and turns itself into an echo chamber, it's no longer a university but an indoctrination center (see also the non-accredited Christian fundamentalist "colleges"). The focus moves to promoting the party line and indulging in meaningless power struggles of certain individuals that want to get their way and their way exclusively.

The real world doesn't care about someone's coping classes where he learned white guilt. Big companies will just pick students from other universities who learned such mundane things as business administration or engineering or something else that actually has an economical value outside of begging for patreon bucks.
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Old 25 August 2016, 11:29 PM
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Way to not engage with people talking to you at all and just say whatever comes to mind, Coughdrops.

Colleges aren't imaginary. They're real. There is no "real world" and "fake" college world. It's all one world.
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