Schapiro to Freshmen: People Criticizing Safe Spaces ‘Drives Me Nuts’

Peter Kotecki, Daily Northwestern, September 21, 2016

During a speech to new students Monday, University President Morton Schapiro blasted critics of safe spaces and trigger warnings on college campuses.

“The people who decry safe spaces do it from their segregated housing places, from their jobs without diversity–they do it from their country clubs,” Schapiro said. “It just drives me nuts.”

During his convocation speech on Monday at Welsh-Ryan Arena, Schapiro said students are likely to feel uncomfortable at Northwestern. But he said they deserve a space where they can let their guard down–whether it’s a musical group, religious center or the Black House.

Schapiro acknowledged the ongoing debate about college students being “coddled” and not resilient enough. Calling people who deny the existence of microaggressions “idiots,” Schapiro said he clearly remembers every microaggression he has experienced.

Microaggressions “cut you to the core” and aren’t easily forgotten, he said.

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Schapiro’s speech follows controversy at the University of Chicago, where a letter from the dean of students told freshmen the University does not support safe spaces and trigger warnings.

Amid the blowback, Schapiro co-wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, saying protests on college campuses are a sign of progress toward diversity and inclusion.

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During his speech, Schapiro said students have to feel safe before they can get out of their comfort zone and participate in uncomfortable learning.

“Look for those safe spaces,” he said. “If you can’t find them, we will help you find them.”

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