Sometimes it takes a group of young people to set you straight.
For months now, I’ve been reading about college students who’ve been seeking “safe spaces.” They’ve often been met by derision—even the highest ranked Urban Dictionary definition is mired in sarcasm, describing them as having “pillows” and “soothing music” that “allows them to recover from the trauma... of exposure to ideas that conflict with their leftist professors.”
I also had some mid-life skepticism about teenage hyperbole, that is, until I attended a town hall meeting at Duke University (my alma mater) earlier this month. The “community conversation,” as it was called, had been hastily convened to discuss the rash of racist and homophobic incidents on campus. Listening to those students—and watching their expressions—I realized that what’s been happening at Duke is serious, and no amount of sarcasm can disguise the pain and anger on campus, or cover up the real dangers lurking there.
The problems that exist on the Durham, North Carolina, campus are also found beyond its borders. Add to the list: Bucknell (racial slurs and threats were made on a radio broadcast), Georgia Tech (a black female student was the target of racial epithets by white fraternity members), UCLA (students wore offensive blackface at a “Kanye Western” party), Miami University in Ohio (students defaced a residence hall with anti-Semitic, racist, homophobic, and sexist graffiti), and many others.