Abolish safe spaces!, MTSU student gov demands
Middle Tennessee State University’s Student Government Association (SGA) resoundingly approved a resolution last week rejecting the creation of “safe spaces” on campus.
According to Hypeline, the MTSU Student Senate voted 33-6 (with three abstentions) in favor of a resolution expressing the body’s formal opposition to “the creation of intellectual and ideological safe spaces where students and faculty could go to avoid confrontation with differing ideologies.”
“College is to be an [sic] time in one’s life where ideals can be freely and openly expressed and challenged, and individuals benefit from an exchange of diverse ideas,” the resolution states, noting that the free exchange of ideas is enshrined in both the U.S. Constitution and MTSU’s mission
SGA Executive Vice President Connor McDonald told Campus Reform that the student government rarely takes positions on these types of issues, observing that senators are expected to represent the whole student body, but said they saw the issue of safe spaces as one that required their input, given the attention it has received lately.
“We want to make sure that the First Amendment right to freedom of speech is protected on MTSU's campus for years to come, so the Senate voted in favor of this preemptive condemnation of safe spaces,” McDonald explained.
The primary sponsor of the resolution was April Carroll, who is also the chair of the school’s College Republicans chapter.
Carroll told HypeLine that she was inspired to propose the resolution because “I saw how politically correct my college campus was getting,” and boasted of the ease with which it was approved.
“With some push back from MT LAMBDA that was quickly resolved, it passed committee and onto our Senate floor,” she recounted. “After much deliberation, it was passed.”
The debate over safe spaces has been far more contentious at other schools, however, and the presidents of several universities have even weighed in with public statements articulating both sides of the question.
Students at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill held a panel last week during which most panelists defended the use of safe spaces and trigger warnings.
The president of Northwestern University Morton Schapiro, proclaimed the same concept more boisterously in an address to students recently, vociferously defending safe spaces and trigger warnings while calling anyone who disagrees an “idiot” and a “lunatic.”
During the debate over the resolution, McDonald recalled one senator arguing that students may be creating safe spaces because “some individuals might believe it is easier to silence opposition rather than use reason and logic to argue their points.”
MTSU apparently concedes the validity of that concern, McDonald indicated, nothing that a representative for the administration had already responded positively to the resolution.
However, MTSU does have a red light rating on FIRE, indicating at least one policy substantially restricting free speech, in this case overly broad definitions of sexual misconduct that include jokes and even “suggestive or insulting sounds.”
The SGA did carve out one notable exception to its denunciation of safe spaces, specifically exempting the MTSU Safe Zone Program, which is meant to provide a supportive environment for LGBT+ students.
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