As I go to write this, I am having a hard time picking an article to base my thoughts around—this week highlights and dives into so many important aspects of education. So, if this feels a little rambly, it is because I am having a hard time picking just one angle.
I ended picked “From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces” by Brian Arao and Kristi Clemens. The title originally peaked my interest because a colleague of mine was talking the other week about how they were not necessarily a fan of the word “Safe Space”. Sadly, I did not get a chance to really dive into this as we both had meetings to get to. I have seen “Safe Space” in both my undergraduate institution and now in my graduate institution. Originally, I was excited that they were implementing this initiative when I first learned about it back in my undergrad—I thought it was a great thing to do to show that people that they were cared for and they had someone to turn to. I thought it would really show those who wanted to act in an “ally” capacity. However, I have been learning that this notion of “Safe Space” can actually be exclusionary and just perpetuating privilege. I guess this is just my own point of privilege that I hadn’t done more of a deep dive into this and examined it from more angles.
This article really made me think and reflect about this concept and the experience the authors had. In this day in age, I think it is vital that we are learning about how to facilitate tough discussions with students who share opposing viewpoints, ideologies, beliefs, and life experiences. I think it is so important that we are teaching students how to have these conversations and really lean into the idea of being ok with being uncomfortable in some situations.
A salient point that stood out to me in this article was that it talked about how when doing activities like the privilege walk, how some students will just shut down and dismiss the point/concept and just state that they are not going to change their mind so why continue to talk about whatever it is. I think that if we just accept that every time that we are never going to learn and grow if we only stick and not listen to other viewpoints. College is supposed to be a time to widen your horizons and be exposed to new things. I want to learn how to better facilitate these conversations and also be more ok with being uncomfortable while creating the best space for all students— not further alienating students.