October 25, 2016
People can be cruel to their friends, to themselves and to people they hardly know. It doesn’t matter how old we are, or where we go; this still remains the norm.
Like many people, I was bullied in middle school. Being the new kid, I found that no matter how nice I tried to be, my peers never acknowledged my feelings or respected my boundaries.
I had to train myself to accept who I was in order to be confident. It was difficult learning how to trust people again, but eventually I made life long friends and was able to move on.
This difficult time helped me become a person better equipped for whatever life wants to inevitably throw my way.
No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to completely shield yourself from someone else’s cruelty. The only solution is to learn how to cope with it.
But safe zones at colleges are taking that opportunity away from people.
Safe zones or safe spaces, as defined by Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley, INC. are “places where all people feel safe, welcome and included. It may be a room, a car or an entire college campus.”
A dedicated space on campus where people can escape their life and expect to be loved and accepted is not conducive to a realistic education on how to defend yourself and rise above the cruelty.
When colleges like University of Maryland, University of California Berkeley or University of San Diego devote physical space on campus for people to escape reality, they take away the chance for students to learn how to properly deal with conflict resolution.
Having places that don’t allow for confrontation or challenging views is not representative of the real world.
People won’t always accept you for who you are and people will be cruel for no reason.
Events that better educate people about different cultures and the way people may be struggling to adjust are absolutely fine.
But when schools provide a dedicated space where no one is supposed to say anything hurtful, or when everyone accepts one another with open arms, it is ineffective.
When a parent keeps their children from going outside because they are afraid of what harm might come, when the child does go outside one day, it is inevitable that life will still happen.
They can be seriously harmed by a simple cold because they were never exposed to that strain of the cold virus, and could not build up a proper immune system.
No amount of safe space training can prevent people from being cruel. You need to learn how to emotionally and sometimes physically defend yourself.
I am not saying that people should never seek help when faced with adversity, because often times the cruelty can be overwhelming and you aren’t yet prepared to handle things on your own.
There are many resources on and off campus that can provide shelter and support for people who seek help. The Wellness Center and MOSAIC office are great examples of places to help deal with emotional confl ict as a result of harassment.
But when we have these places available to students, safe zones become irrelevant and unnecessary.
There won’t be safe spaces at your office job or any professional establishment. Having people think that they don’t have to deal with their problems and can just rely on this space on campus to provide for them presents an unrealistic version of life.