Some student mentors took the idea of a campus safe space and mocked it, and it’s creeping out other students. How is “f*** safe space” even OK?
A campus program to help students feel safe at a Canadian university has been altered and donned on a shirt by those who aren’t all that keen on it — including student mentors. Some young college students now feel vulnerable and threatened. Is this the college environment you want your kids going to?
Campus safety is a major concern for moms and dads who send their kids off to college. Carleton University, located in Ottawa, Ontario, in Canada, has created an inclusive program called Safe Space.
“Carleton University Safe-Space Program (CUSSP) is an important University-wide initiative to reduce the impact of homophobia and heterosexism on campus,” reads the website description.
When several university students (student mentors, even) were seen sporting shirts with “F*** safe space” emblazoned across them in giant letters, what may have begun as activism has turned into triggers for sexual assault victims. The unwelcome message is supposedly a response to a campus-wide initiative to stop swearing for a week, but it comes across as anything but.
— Lester (@MadameLester) September 7, 2014
You're free to say what you want, you just don't want the consequences and that's just too damn bad, dudebro. #FuckSafeSpace
— jonathan (@liberalstrawman) September 8, 2014
It's not a free speech issue, it's an ignorance issue. I'd bet shirt maker didn't know "safe space" associated w sexual violence #Carleton
— Ryan (@R_Mallough) September 8, 2014
Even though the CUSSP was not created for sexual violence awareness or safety, the use of those words on T-shirts comes across as aggressive and frightening. And even if your child hasn’t been a victim of sexual assault, does this sort of message make you comfortable? How nice was it for parents of first-time college students to see these sorts of messages in their Twitter feed?
And for those who mock or ridicule the distress these shirts cause, I have to say that I’m completely sick of those who don’t allow others to feel. Just because you’re not bothered by an anti-safe space shirt doesn’t mean nobody is allowed to be bothered by them. Needing a safe space doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means you’re human, just like everyone else. College campuses should be a welcoming, inclusive community, and young men and women should not be told that what they are feeling is wrong.
The #fucksafespace t-shirt doesn't convey the message of anti-swearing… it's propagating rape culture. Clear and simple trash the shirts.
— Alastair Larwill (@alarwill) September 8, 2014
Protesting a “no swearing” rule is one thing, but being a total jerk about it is another. Mocking an environment that helps a student feel unthreatened is a terrible move. Going away to college is a big deal — your child is leaving home, often for the first time, and becoming part of a new environment that should be a safe one. There is no question about that. Kids hating the system? Fine. But don’t create a place where other kids feel uncomfortable and victimized. How is that even a thing?