In the past week I have learned two things. One, the university I attend has a student union run by idiots. Two, those idiots are willing to support policies that get them ‘banned’ for raising their hand in a meeting.
Last week I attended a vote that was organized by my student union that aimed to put forward multiple policies. At this meeting, upon entering I received one slip in which I would cast my vote, and one on which I could make a ‘safe space’ complaint.
What’s a ‘safe space’ you ask? It’s a policy that my university has in place which means anyone can complain if they feel threatened in any situation. And we had a complaint. Over a raised hand. And a head nod.
Our vice-president, Imogen Wilson, nearly got thrown out of this vote for raising her hand during a speech about disabled students, during which she was accused of failing them for not responding to an open letter. She simply raised her hand to attempt a response at being accused of failing in her role, an instinctive response.
Funnily enough when asked about the complaint she claimed she still supported the ‘safe space’ policy. I know this seems like a bunch of young university kids making a big deal out of a silly complaint, but it runs deeper than that. Over the past few months we’ve had certain speakers banned from our university simply for talking about controversial issues. Songs such as Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ was banned from being played in the student union for its sexual connotations and fancy dress and sombreros were banned for potentially being viewed as offensive.
What makes this even worse is that there has been an ongoing petition against the safe space policy at Edinburgh started by Charlie Peters which has received over a 1000 signatures. Not only does this show overwhelming opposition by students against this policy, it demonstrates that they want to be able to have the freedom to discuss controversial matters on campus.
By aiming to protect us as young students with this ‘safe space’ policy, our university is oppressing our right to express ourselves and our opinions. It’s stopping us from being able to hear controversial views and opinions and make up our own mind about them. What’s worse is that once we leave university we’ll be faced with all these things we’re being ‘protected’ against, and how will we deal with it then? Take out our ‘safe space’ complaint strips? I‘m not sure those count in the real world.
But guess what? This is the real world. The reality is that outside of campus students will have to deal with controversial issues in everyday life. There will always be people that have values and opinions that might be different from yours or that you don’t agree with but the solution is not to ban them, it’s to be able to discuss them, to show others and yourself why your opinions are right.
Well, if I can’t speak freely at my university, at least I can speak my mind here.