by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Shannon Watkins of the Martin Center devotes her latest column to controversial campus “safe spaces.”
The idea of a campus “safe space”—a university-sanctioned oasis where students can go to destress and feel at ease—has had its share of ridicule. And it’s not hard to see why: It is often hard to distinguish between a college safe space and a preschool daycare.
For example, in April 2019, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill hosted a “Week of Balance” for students. The week’s events were packed full of therapeutic activities including “coloring and origami therapy,” “sweet treats,” “yoga and crafting,” and engaging in a “cathartic primal scream” followed by an ice cream outing.
But safe spaces aren’t just temporary rooms that disappear after the semester ends. Entire centers on university campuses are often designed as permanent safe spaces for select student groups. In fact, former UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor Carol Folt and many others believe that entire campuses should be a safe space. And “safety” doesn’t just mean protection from violence or abusive behavior; for an environment to be safe it must also protect students from stress and discomfort.
At first, the existence of campus “safe spaces” might seem laughable or excessive, but ultimately harmless. However, as the new documentary No Safe Spaces shows, the ideological forces driving the calls for university-wide safe spaces are anything but benign.
No Safe Spaces is by narrated comedian Adam Carolla and radio talk show host Dennis Prager. With hints of comedy and entertainment, the film highlights some of the most egregious affronts to free thought on and off college campuses.