This archived article was written by: Frank Saccommanno
The idea of a university being a “safe space” completely contradicts the purpose of going to college. When I decided to go to college, my goal was to open my mind to the world. I looked forward to having debates with my colleagues about the issues the world faces. I looked forward to surrounding myself with fellow intellects who, like me, are searching for their place in this world.
However, I found myself in an ever-changing environment that almost eliminates learning and intellectual debate because of offensive ideas and languages. In an interview on the “Joe Rogan Experience,” Jordan B. Peterson expresses the idea that the university “is not a home or a safe space.”
Dr. Peterson believes that the university is a place to be confronted by “often horrible ideas.” He teaches a class at the University of Toronto called Maps of Meaning. In this class he teaches his students that if they had been in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, they could have very well been Nazi’s. He writes, “It doesn’t make you feel safe to know that Nazi’s were human and you happen to be human too.”
Peterson says professors who offer their students a “safe place” to learn are actually doing them a disservice. In this interview, he discusses how a clinical psychologist deals with people with extreme anxiety. Peterson says, “You don’t make the world and its horrors smaller, you make the person and their capacity to deal with the horrors larger; you encourage them, you strengthen them.”
Everybody wants to be safe and comfortable, but I am at my best when I am uncomfortable. When I’m uncomfortable, I push forward to ease any unnecessary suffering in my life. Being anxious and uncomfortable are emotions all humans face, but I would rather face my anxiety bravely than try to ease it in a “safe space.”
A picture is on the Internet depicting two wolves. One wolf is an adult and the other a child. The image of the young wolf shows an arrow in its back. The young wolf cannot stand the arrow and lays down. The picture of the adult wolf shows many arrows in its back, but the wolf is still standing. Once more, “You don’t make the world and its horrors smaller, you make the person and their capacity to deal with the horrors larger.”
I came to college, yes to learn, but also to write great works, debate smart people and express myself articulately. I don’t believe in hiding from the horrors of the world, I believe in facing those horrors head on and heroically. What’s the point of going to a university if we come out weaker than we went in. I don’t want to be coddled or safe, I want to learn about the suffering in the world so I can do something about it. I cannot turn a blind eye to pain and suffering because I know it’s always going to exist. However, I can face that pain head on and hopefully end unnecessary suffering.