Campus Free Speech

Duke University Has a Safe Space Room. For 'Healing.'

We wouldn't want to expose students to contrary ideas.


Public Domain

It's called the Sanford Safe Space, and it will be a special room on campus where students can come when they need to "heal." A social worker will be present.

That's according to The Duke Chronicle, which notes that the room was conceived of by the Duke public policy school's Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. Kathryn Whetten, a global health professor and co-chair of the committee, offered her own office as the physical location of the safe space. The idea is to provide a safe, healing space where all sorts of people can feel good about themselves, including students of color, military members, and even conservatives.

"We want to have a place for people who feel marginalized and face constant attention for characteristics that are immutable—like their skin color or their religion, their immigration status or whether they're from another country—to be able to heal," Whetten told The Chronicle.

A note of mild criticism: some of the characteristics she describes are not immutable. Skin color is immutable—you can't change that—but religion isn't. People change their religious beliefs all the time. In fact, a lot of young people change their religious and political beliefs after they come to college and are exposed to different ways of thinking. One could even argue that many students ought to change their fundamental beliefs once they are exposed to better information—that this is the entire point of college.

It's not the point of a safe space, though.