Professor Steve Martin answers a question as he sits on a panel with, from left, Kate Moody, associate librarian; student Erika Isaacson; Registrar Michele Wittler; and student Harley Mitchelly.
Professor Steve Martin answers a question as he sits on a panel with, from left, Kate Moody, associate librarian; student Erika Isaacson; Registrar Michele Wittler; and student Harley Mitchelly.

“Trigger warnings,” “safe spaces” and “political correctness.”

Are they tools to help colleges respect student sensitivities and differences, protecting them from hurtful speech and actions?

Or do they bubble-wrap young people, shielding them at the very time they should be challenged and growing intellectually?  

Ripon College’s Center for Politics and the People posed similar questions last week during a panel discussion in the Great Hall of Harwood Memorial Union. ...

“I believe colleges should be places of learning and personal growth,” junior Erika Isaacson said, “but they also need to be a safe space in order to allow for education and equal opportunity.”

A “safe space” is a location or environment in which people can be free of exposure to harassment, discrimination or emotional and physical harm.

The college community needs to find a balance between free speech and students’ safety and discomfort, Isaacson said. “I believe that trigger warnings and safe spaces are misconceived as a danger to free speech.”

Read about the panelist's differing views of on free speech and safe spaces in the March 16, 2017 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.