At many colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad, “safe spaces” — or areas free from any type of aggression, micro- or otherwise — have become a very serious topic.
Back in March, when Emory students found that someone had written “Trump” in chalk on their sidewalks, they formed a protest in response, arguing that they “don’t deserve to feel afraid” at their school.
If Trump’s name in chalk alone was enough to spark protests, then how New York’s Skidmore College reacted to the appearance of his campaign slogan seems like the next natural step.
— Kmarko (@Kmarkobarstool) March 22, 2016
At Skidmore, a number of incidents of “Make America Great Again” written on whiteboards around campus have been reported.
That these whiteboards belong to “female faculty of color” — as Campus Reform reports — prompted them to be reported to the college’s Bias Response Group (BRG), which handles any reports of bias on campus in order to foster “a climate of inclusion, civility, and mutual respect.”
In their official report on the whiteboard incidents, the BRG writes that the offending students were “using the idea of political speech to target specific members of the Skidmore community with biased messaging,” adding:
“As such, the BRG does not interpret these messages as political speech but as racialized, targeted attacks…
BRG has asked Campus Safety to document all similar messaging while patrolling Campus.”
The BRG also noted that — as “Make America Great Again” is a “slogan is associated with the political campaign of a candidate widely known to voice anti‐immigrant and bigoted views” — that it was particularly offensive considering the faculty member was of “immigrant parentage.”
While BRG states that political speech is “free and protected,” the idea that the appearance of Trump’s name — or, in this instance, his campaign slogan — is somehow considered unacceptable on campus points to the bigger issue that many have with college safe spaces.
Namely, as CNN’s Don Lemon argued in the wake of the resignation of University of Missouri’s president, is that such reactions are tantamount to a:
“…vigorous effort to squash freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
And as a journalist that really bothers me because this is a very, very dangerous road that no one should want to go down.”
While there was seemingly no real punishment meted out over these particular incidents of “bias” at Skidmore — as whoever wrote the messages remains anonymous — the BRG has made it clear that it does consider such use of Trump’s slogan to be “politicized, racialized, targeted attacks” that are “intended to intimidate.”
Each of the three times the appearance of “Make America Great Again” was reported to the BRG, it was filed under the category of a “written slur or graffiti.”
Source: independent journal
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