Without Irony, Students Who Voted for Trump Request Safe Space on Campus
Yeah, I know.
Seemingly without the least bit of irony, students at the University of Michigan who voted for Donald Trump have asked for safe spaces away from students who do not share their political views. Go ahead, take a moment and let that sink in. Okay.
The New York Times reports that students who voted for Donald Trump at the University of Michigan have felt singled out and otherwise disregarded as the college has offered things like emotional support and time out of class to students who may have felt some amount of distraught at this recent election. Amanda Delekta, a sophomore at the school and political director of the College Republicans, an on-campus organization, accused the school’s president of favoritism, saying that the school’s reaction to the election effectively shows which “side” of the aisle the school is on.
In response, the school’s president met with Delekta to hear out her argument and take in the criticism she had to offer.
At even more schools, apparently students have felt threatened or otherwise unsafe due to their political views as well as because they voted for Trump. I mean it when I say that there’s a real terrible sense of irony at their request for safe spaces after electing somebody who clearly doesn’t respect safe spaces–or personal space, for that matter. To suddenly be calling for safe space after voting for the man who’s working to make America an unsafe space for so many marginalized people honestly shows just how self-involved and self-centered many of these “Republican safe space requests” really are.
To be someone who feels threatened for maintaining institutional racism, sexism, and every identity-based phobia on the list is to miss the point of safe spaces and the like entirely. It represents a stunning shortsightedness. Most of all, it represents a fundamental ignorance of why safe spaces are needed. Safe spaces exist to protect already marginalized identities, identities that get no such spaces in the normal course of daily life.
To ask for a safe space when you already benefit from being a part of the day-to-day prejudices and biases that define life in the world right now is to ask for space you actually don’t really need. It’s an infringement upon already-existing spaces, a damn-near colonization and appropriation of the work paid for by marginalized identities in their blood, sweat, and tears.
This isn’t to say that Republicans or Trump voters should be made to feel unsafe in their schools, no. Rather, it’s that special consideration for a safe space shouldn’t be offered to them, seeing as how they’re already offered that by the current establishment.
The argument presented by them is similar to the one propping up the belief in “reverse racism” or “reverse sexism”. Right off: no, neither of those things exist. Dear White People has an excellent definition of why black people can’t be racist, which also serves as to why “reverse racism” doesn’t actually exist.
In short, the system in which we live is already geared towards benefitting and protecting white people and white values. To criticize and address such a system isn’t reverse racism, it’s part and parcel of how equality is achieved.
Last year, founder and CEO of the Black List, Franklin Leonard, also summed up a sentiment that’s been going around as of late, too:
When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression. (It’s not.)
— Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) October 10, 2015
This, in my opinion, is what lies at the heart of such requests for safe spaces from people who already have all the space. The worry, as shared by so many people who rail against equality, is that in offering equality, they somehow lose out on something, that something gets taken away from them in exchange. This is not the case.
To believe in such a fallacy shows a marked blindness as to how much one may already have. These privileges could be anything, including actual money, resources, or even just the ability to walk down the street without getting shot. It must be said that the latter especially represents what should be an equal human right, a right that sadly isn’t equal in the world in which we live now.
Again, by asking for safe spaces, by asking for special consideration when they already have all the advantages offered to them by everything else in this world, they demonstrate either an ignorance of or an unwillingness to see that they already have it.
The New York Times piece on the matter shared a very poignant example:
According to a campuswide message from Mark Schlissel, the university’s president, bias incidents have been reported. A student walking near campus was threatened with being lit on fire because she wore a hijab. Other students were accused of being racist for supporting Mr. Trump.
I don’t think I need to tell you that these are not the same thing. These are not the same thing at all. One student here needs a safe space because her life and well-being are literally being threatened. The other students are just sad about being called racists.
I ask you: who really needs the safe space here?
(image via Shutterstock)
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