I'll warn you right now. This is a “suck it up buttercup” kind of post. Even more interesting, this post is of an extraordinarily rare variety; one where I actually (kind of sort of) sing the praises of a modern college administrator. But first, let me get to the facts of the story. Those are important, since you otherwise won't know who I am mercilessly making fun of, or why.
The president of Northern Arizona University is facing calls to resign because she refuses to endorse safe spaces on her institution's campus. At a recent meeting with angry foot stomping post-adolescents, Dr. Rita Cheng caused a ruckus and a campus walkout by “telling students they had to confront ideas they don't like rather than hide from them.” Apparently, they wanted to hide from that concept. The brouhaha came to a head at a meeting of the mindless, when a sophomore student asked her this:
How can you promote safe spaces if you don't take action in situations of injustice such as last week when we had the preacher on campus and he was promoting hate speech against marginalized students? As well as, not speaking out against racist incidents like blackface two months ago by student workers followed by no reform and no repercussions?
Personally, I would say the first thing the good Doctor should have done was advise that young skull full of mush to go back and take remedial English, because that statement sounds like pure gibberish to me. That notwithstanding, Dr. Cheng replied with:
As a university professor, I'm not sure I have any support at all for safe space. I think that you as a student have to develop the skills to be successful in this world and that we need to provide you with the opportunity for discourse and debate and dialogue and academic inquiry, and I'm not sure that that is correlated with the notion of safe space as I've seen that.
Develop skills to be successful? The opportunity for discourse? And debate? And dialogue? And Academic inquiry? Is she crazy? This is college, dammit. They didn't come here to do all that. They came to be coddled, and counseled, and have their hair stroked lightly when their tummy hurts. They came to learn in what designated zone free speech may be employed, and then to avoid that area like a plague. They came in order to accumulate massive debt and spend the rest of their lives living in their parent's basement – provided it offers safe spaces for those weally, weally bad days.
After Dr. Cheng made these remarks, a group of “pro-safe space” students angrily shook their baby rattles and stormed out of the gathering. Ironically, because of Dr. Cheng's stubbornly logical recalcitrance, they had no safe space in which to retreat. The whole mass of them are probably still wandering the quad, wondering who will change their diapers and not quite sure what the next step should be.
But they know somebody should suffer for their having to face life's realities. And that someone is Dr. Rita Cheng. Calls for her resignation have thus far gone unrealized.
I want to applaud Dr. Cheng for her eminently logical position on this most ridiculous of notions; the university safe space. However, I am reluctant to do so in a full-throated manner. Northern Arizona University is, after all, the same school where a student recently lost credit on an English paper for using the word “mankind" instead of a gender-neutral alternative.
I cannot wait for these students to get out of their ivory towers and hit the real world with an actual job. Just think, some of these kids will one day be workers' compensation adjusters. Let's see how they handle 175 workers' comp cases tossed on their desk; each representing an unhappy person in pain. And oh yeah, who all hate them for the job they do. Insurance companies are going to have to plan huge safe spaces into their future office plans.
Or at least a room where adjuster's mommies can hold their hands, stroke their hair and tell them that they are still special, even though everyone hates their guts and wants them dead.
These Snowflakes are going to drive us all to drink, which is convenient, since my personal safe space happens to be inside a bottle of Ketel One. Just tap on the glass when the danger has passed. I'll come out. I promise.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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