Campus Free Speech

Bowdoin College Offers Safe Spaces, Counseling to Students Traumatized by Tiny Sombreros

Being upset is not the same thing as being in danger.



It was not enough to mandate diversity training and other sanctions for students who organized a culturally insensitive event at Bowdoin College—the college is also taking steps to provide counseling for anyone traumatized by the sight of a tiny sombrero. 

Bowdoin College is offering "safe spaces" for the victims of a recent tequila-themed birthday party in which "ethnic stereotyping" is alleged to have taken place, according to 

Reason's Katherine Mangu-Ward covered the absurd outrage over the party, noting that a "Cold War" theme party hosted by the college's administration prompted no outcry:

The tequila party hosts, at least one of whom is Colombian, will be forced to attend "an educational program facilitated by a faculty member," attend "Active Bystander training," (in case you're wondering what that is, here you go), and "write a letter or paper on these experiences." They have also been forced to move out of their dorms and have been banned from major social events, The Bowdoin Orient notes in an editorial

Two of the attendees at the tequila party (who do not themselves seem to have been hat wearers or hosts, though the details are unclear) are representatives in the student government. On Saturday, they will face impeachment by their peers. 

… administrators have taken disciplinary action and publicly shamed students for throwing a party with silly hats. Were the hats in bad taste? Maybe. Could a dorm supervisor have pulled the kids aside and said "ixnay on the ombreros-say"? Maybe. Should these kids' friends have given them noogies? Maybe. But this simply shouldn't have risen to the level of adult attention in the first place. 

The manner in which Bowdoin is treating the perpetrators—if they can be called such—is shameful. But it's treatment of the so-called victims—the microaggressed—is similarly insane. Students have been provided with not one, but several opportunities to flee to the comfort of administratively-sanction safe spaces, according to National Review's Katherine Timpf

In an e-mail to National Review Online, sophomore Richard Arms states that there have been "3 school-wide emails from deans and our president, and there have been several 'safe-space' opportunities on campus for students to discuss how they were hurt and offended" by the party. What's more, the General Assembly of Bowdoin Student Government issued a "Statement of Solidarity to stand by all students who were affected by the 'tequila' party that occurred on 20 February 2016." 

We do everyone a grave disservice when we conflate offendness with safety. Being upset is not the same thing as being in danger, and students who can't tell the difference will be unprepared for life in the real world.