Law Experts: College ‘Safe Spaces’ Unsafe for Free Speech

November 14, 2015

By Sandy Fitzgerald at NewsMax

College “safe spaces,” where students can hide away from viewpoints that might cause them distress, go against the nation’s First Amendment and even what universities should stand for, according to Constitutional law experts.

“They want complete control over their personal lives, over their sex lives, over the use of drugs, but they want mommy and daddy dean to please give them a safe place, to protect them from ideas that maybe are insensitive, maybe will make them think,” attorney Alan Dershowitz told Fox News.

But instead, the last thing students who demand safe zones want is real diversity, and as a result, “a fog of fascism is descending quickly over many American universities.”

“They may want superficial diversity, diversity of gender, diversity of color, but they do not want diversity of ideas,” said Dershowitz. “It is the worst kind of hypocrisy.”

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh told Fox that he believes one of the problems lies in the use of the word safe, which “conveys the image of a violent attack,” and using it to keep students safe from “ideas and statements we find offensive. There is no right to be safe from that.”

“That is directly contrary to what universities are all about,” Volokh, he continued.

Just last month, students at Yale University staged a “March of Resiliency” after faculty member Erika Christakis sent out an email questioning a university plea for students to consider the impact their Halloween costumes may have.

In her email, she referred to her husband, Nicholas, another Yale professor, who had said if someone doesn’t like a costume, look away or tell them they are offended.

The email sparked protests and students of color confronted Nicholas Christakis in a video and accused him of not wanting to make a safe space, and several students called for the couple to resign their posts at the university. But the email was “thoughtfully worded,” said Samantha Harris, attorney and director of police research for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education [FIRE], and it “invited open, intellectual dialogue.”

Further, she told Fox News that demanding that someone step down for offering a contrary opinion is the opposite of being liberal, and “the idea that people have the right to absolute emotional comfort at all times is very troubling, and it’s anti-intellectual.”

University of Missouri protests have also led to the demand for “safe spaces,” and interim President Mike Middleton, who is filling in after President Tim Wolfe resigned amid protests, agrees, but said schools must still have a “delicate balance” between safe spaces and free speech, both of which are essential.

But Dershowitz said universities should not “tolerate this kind of hypocrisy, double standard,” as that means “free speech for me, but not for thee.”

Schools: University of Missouri – Columbia Yale University Cases: University of Missouri: Policing of “Hurtful” Speech Yale University: Protesters at Yale Threaten Free Speech, Demand Apologies and Resignations from Faculty Members Over Halloween Email