No Safe Spaces Here
August 26, 2016 35 Comments
Unique in its ability in the reason for its existence, in its present form. This school was one of the founders of the Big 10 Conference as well as 6 times champion of the league, and home of the winner of the first Heisman trophy, but withdrew from intercollegiate sports when it found that it interfered with its core mission. They returned to NCAA Division III football in 1973. And so it was under the bleachers of its unused football stadium, Stagg Field, that the first ever controlled nuclear reaction took place.
Unique in being the home of the Chicago School of Economics, and its most famous spokesman, the late Milton Friedman, who has been highlighted here many times, not least for his I, Pencil, perhaps the best demonstration of how interdependent we all are.
And maybe unique also in something that came up this week. My friend Chalcedon (who is employed in University Administration after (and concurrent with) a distinguished career in University teaching himself) over at All along the Watchtower said this today
A Catholic university is charged with developing a learning community which inculcates such values, and should strive to help form its students in such a way; but it also needs to engage its students actively in this process – there is no room for ‘safe spaces’ or for students to be merely passive receivers (even if such students existed and wanted to come to a university with a Catholic ethos).
A Catholic university places itself, Newman wrote, at the service of revealed truth (Idea of a University, Discourse 4).
Personally, I think that is the mission of all universities, not just Catholic ones, and I suspect that the University of Chicago would agree. They said this in a letter to incoming students.
Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called “trigger warnings,” we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual “safe spaces” where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.
I applaud both of them, the solutions to our problems, and they exist; we created the problems, and we can (with God’s help) solve them, never have, and will never be in hiding from the problems or in not honestly exploring them. That is not, and never was a comfortable undertaking. As Hannah Holborn Gray, a former President of the University said:
[E]ducation should not be intended to make people comfortable,
it is meant to make them think.
And you know, I think with that ethos, they will each begin (maybe the word is continue) to attract the robust student who is there to learn, and to discuss, and to study, and to discern some actual truth. Often here we say that the truth can stand on its own, and it can, but we also need those that will proclaim it throughout the land. Truth in an ivory tower, does little good, but the truth in the marketplace of ideas will gain adherents, and may well win the day. One hopes so, anyway. Our society needs a huge dose of truth these days.