« Dear Sir or Madam: Ellen Barry on gender-specific forms of address | Main | “Tighter worlds”: Gelfand and Choi on disparate gender treatment in the workplace »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Dario Walnock

Zimmerman's argument makes perfect sense. Students should not be sheltered on campus, but rather challenged mentally regardless of the topic. School is designed to push the student to become the brightest thinker possible. Not to mention, schools can not shelter students forever. Someday the students will wake up and become apart of the cruel "real-world," wishing schools were not so sheltered.

Kasey King

In a world of everyone being offended by every small details and it does hurt the students that want to learn and want to be challenge, then themselves get distracted and get caught up in these things,they forget about their education.

MacKenzie O

I indeed agree with Zimmerman's statement: that college should not host students in a room to make them feel "safe". College is a place to learn and grow, not to be pacified into thinking that everything is okay. Once out of college these students housed in a "safe place", will think that they can take a break when life gets hard or the work load becomes to much for their insecure minds.

Phillip B

I like Zimmerman's argument, he makes great points about his beliefs. I personally believe students should not have a safe space on campus, their is no need for one. In our society today it is all about pushing our young adults to their limits and challeging them. If you shelter these students in school what will they do when they get in the real world and have no safe space to go to? Our students need to know that their is not always gonna be a safe space and that you need to be ready for the challenges that come their way and not to run to your safe space when times get tuff but to man up and face reality.

Timothy V.

Zimmerman's argument makes a great point. College is an opportunity for young people such as; high school seniors, high school graduates, and young adult, to leave home and explore further education that leads into career or job opportunity. College has been a great way to continue your education and learning how to work with other people who might have different points of view on different things. I dont believe in having a "Safe Place" while at college benefits anybody. College gives many options such as; having abroad study, clubs, etc, to students, giving them great opportunites to grow and learn.

Peyton Wilmer

I agree with Zimmerman's point of view on students not being sheltered on campus. College students have come to an age where they are learning to be on their own and get a taste of the real world. Sheltering young adults and keeping them in a "safe place" could potentially set them up for failure in their post college life. Students might feel that when the real world gets tough they can just take a quick break and stay in their safe place when that will more than liekly set you back. We live in a world today where everyone is so easily offended just by the word choice we use. Sheltering college students will only continue to mold this world and fill it with people who do not know how to handle their own battles liek adults, instead they will always try and run to their "safe space".

Brandon C

There have been times where I had to go along with other peoples opinions in an academic setting to avoid causing more drama than necessary. Specific scenarios are when people start yelling about something, usually politcal, that they have a certian, slightly radical veiw on. It may not always be in your best interest to attack their arguements when they're in such a state. There are times to bite your toungue and let people have their own opinions without shooting them down or trying to prove them otherwise. Your voice should be heard, but that doesn't mean you need to enforce your opinions on everyone you come across. In the end I was happy to keep my mouth shut and smile and nod at what they had to say without arguing.

DeJour Taylor

Zimmerman states that states that college and regular school campuses should not be a safe enviornment. His argument makes perfect sense in the fact that life beyond college is not guranteed to be safe. Restricting the envornment in which college students have some freedom is bad for them and is not really classified as safe. Safe means that a person is in the best place for them not to get harmed by something. That is the case in schools but not the basis of school. For example, a great place that is also safe would be the Red Cross. The best way to feel safe is to go to a place where the atmosphere is very comforting and secure. For security purposes a staff that is able to secure the safety of people is a priority.

Nathan Parker

I agree with Zimmerman. Making college campuses "safe" places does much more harm than good. Having to censor discussions and teaching will only take away from a good education. People want to be kept "safe," but this only results in them not getting all of the information that they need. If you are sheltered and given only one side of a story, you won't actually gain knowledge. After all, what is the point of learning if it just forwards your personal opinions? Zimmerman stated that the foremost purpose of education is to "challenge [student's] feelings and beliefs at every turn." That is the only way that education works. These safe zones have undermined some of the educational and academic part of college, but that's not all that it can do. It can also undermine the role of college as a way to prepare young adults for life in the real world. There are no "safe zones" in real life, so people have to learn to deal with contrary opinions. If they make it all the way through college while being sheltered, it is likely that people will shut down when confronted with conflict. Zimmerman was correct when he said that safe zones in college were a bad thing. They should be limited.

Latney Hodges

Question 1:
I believe that Zimmerman’s argument is very clear and logical. Students should not be sheltered just because they are offended by a symbol because someone else on that campus may look up to the symbol. I believe that students should not have a safe-space on campus because college is about challenging individuals and introducing them to a new environment. I think if campuses choose not to shelter students then it will create more intellectual individuals because when they experience the real world they will be surrounded by many of these symbols. Zimmerman states, “That’s precisely the distinction that gets lost in the fear-mongering culture of safe spaces, which teaches us to regard language itself as a minefield of danger and harm.” I agree with this statement that words and ideas can not actually cause harm. While words may offend someone, they are not the actual thing creating any real violence. In this world humans have the right to express themselves freely and I do not believe this right should be taken away just because a few individuals do not agree with what is being said.

Anna Pitts

Question 3
While reading this part of the article, I started to question Zimmerman’s proof and reasoning. He stated, “Having borne witness to real violence, they know – better than any of us – the difference between actions and words” (2019). Zimmerman uses this to support his idea that the incarcerated students were born around violence, so they are now able to say what’s on their mind without worrying about who it will offend. I agree that some of those students were more than likely raised around violence and havoc, however, I believe the assumption that all incarcerated students were born to witness violence is a far-fetched statement. I know many fellow classmates or friends who have been in trouble with the law, but most times it is due to drugs or violating restrictions-like driving without a license. I think everyone comes from different backgrounds, and most minors that end up in prison or a youth detention center have had a bad childhood, live in poverty, or have parents that don’t support them. I know many great people that have had to try and sell drugs to keep food on the table for them and their siblings while their parents are working minimum wage jobs without many days off. Additionally, I think that blaming free-opinion or open speech among students on violence does not make sense. I think the fact that these students who were incarcerated could speak their minds is due to the fact that they grew up without much elder influence, and most other people or students that grew up with influential parent figures were raised to respect others and “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. I feel this is the biggest influence that most students or people feel today because most of us are trained by our parents to follow the rules and be kind. However, if these juvenile lessons are not taught to certain children, they will grow up saying what is on their mind no matter the consequences.

Quinaisha Cox

Question 1:

I believe that Zimmerman’s argument is very valid. Students who venture away from home and enter into college should not be sheltered. As people grow older they should learn to deal with things that they may not be comfortable with. When dealing with many different cultures and ethnicities it is really hard for campuses to please everyone. Things that one might find to be offensive another might believe to be their idol. I believe that colleges should not shelter their students because it will only cause more problems for that student in the future. People who are sheltered from the real world grow up to believe that anything that offends them should be taken down or destroyed. However that is not how it works therefore those people live a very hard life. Zimmerman talks about the statues that were built outside of different campuses; he believes that those statues should not have been removed. He states “Of course those symbols should make us feel bad. But that’s the worst possible reason to rid ourselves of them.” I completely agree with this idea because those who are sheltered tend to cause trouble because they believe that everything should be a certain way, and when it’s not they tend to riot.

Rachel Jackson

Rachel Jackson
Question: Among the many problems with trying to make universities “safe spaces” for everyone is the definition and interpretation of “safe.” What does “safe” mean to you? When do you (or would you) feel safe? What conditions have to exist in order to ensure your sense of safety?
To me, safe means being in an atmosphere where I feel secure in my surroundings and unafraid of anything bad happening. It is very important for me to feel safe in whatever college I attend because with a large amount of independence also comes a lot of responsibility to be aware of your surroundings. You no longer have parents looking over your shoulder making sure you are safe. I am attending Liberty University which is an atmosphere that I feel very safe and non-threatened. The University has its own police force on campus 24/7 and many precautions in order to keep the crime level down. In addition, I would also feel more safe if I am always walking a friend when on campus.

Anajah C Carter

I definitely agree with Zimmerman because his argument was logical and made perfect sense. Making college campuses “safe” places actually do much more harm than good. Students should not be sheltered just because they’re offended by a symbol because someone else on that campus may look up to that symbol. Having to censor lectures and discussion will only take away from a good education. Zimmerman stated that the foremost purpose of education is to “challenge the [student’s] feelings and belief at every turn.” That is the only way that education works. I believe that if campuses choose not to shelter students, then it will create intellectual individuals because they will experience the real world. Zimmerman stated, “That’s precisely the distinction that gets lost in the fear-mongering culture of safe spaces, which teaches us to regard language itself as a minefield of danger and harm.” I definitely agree with his statement that words and ideas can’t actually cause harm. Like the iconic phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, words might offend someone, they are not the actual cause of any real violence. I believe that people should have the right to say what they want and to express themselves without any limitations. This should not be taken away from us.

Lotoya Patrick

Safety first (or not): Jonathan Zimmerman on ideas that offend
Q: Among the many problems with trying to make universities “safe spaces” for everyone is the definition and interpretation of “safe.” What does “safe” mean to you? When do you (or would you) feel safe? What conditions have to exist in order to ensure your sense of safety?
A: The state of being safe to me, means that I will feeling guarded and secure with nothing negative happening. I feel as though I should be safe while attending college because of how much responsibility I will have on me. Without the feeling of being secure I would not have the ability to focus because I would be worried about my surroundings etc. Being that I will be on my own, I should have the ability to be in an atmosphere that feels safe and many college campus’ has police to make sure that we all feel safe everyday.

Christopher Goddard

My definition of a “safe space,” and the definition of the term to most people who advocate for them, it seems, is a direct contrary to what Zimmerman thinks. A “safe space” is, simply put, somewhere where ideas that cultivate and breed hatred and malice are to be observed and not engaged. Zimmerman seems to believe that a safe space is somewhere where the simple concept of, say, racism, is completely taboo and cannot be so much as mentioned. This directly conflicts the commonly held belief that safe spaces exist to observe and challenge, a place where one can safely challenge the deeply laid racism in history for example, without being belittled or berated for challenging the idea. Zimmerman’s concept of a safe space is held a decent number of people. The reasoning for this, in my opinion, is that they’ve witnessed these harmful ideas be cut down and assume that it is out of malice, that students need to “man up” and “learn to live in the real world,” and that interacting with those ideas somehow makes them ready for a theoretical “unsafe space.”

The problem with the “unsafe space preparation” idea is that it’s simply unrealistic. Not the concept of an unsafe space, those exist in droves, but the idea that someone would encounter a racist or homophobic and actually bother to engage them in some sort of debate. To me, a safe space is where those ideas are not shot down but just observed with the preface of “this is a bad way to think.”

Trinity Taylor

Zimmerman explains in his article the potential dangers of statues and symbols presented around college campuses. These symbols would include confederate statues, images portraying violent pasts, and even the American flag itself. I would have to say that I personally feel safe in this country and am grateful to live in “the land of the free.” I find it difficult to imagine getting offended by statues and especially the American flag. Colleges should be teaching and educating their students on the culture and meaning of these symbols instead of shielding from the harsh truth of America’s past.

Emily McYoung

Question 4: Among the many problems with trying to make universities “safe spaces” for everyone is the definition and interpretation of “safe.” What does “safe” mean to you? When do you (or would you) feel safe? What conditions have to exist in order to ensure your sense of safety? Write an essay addressing these questions. Use Zimmerman as your They Say, and in your essay, consider the effects of words, actions, ideas or concepts, and symbols.

Answer: Safe means being in an atmosphere where I feel secure in my environment. It is very important for me to feel safe in whatever college I attend because with a large amount of freedom also comes a lot of responsibility to be aware of your surroundings. You no longer have parents looking over your shoulder making sure you are safe and okay all the time. I am attending the University of Mary Washington which is an atmosphere that I feel very harmless and non-threatened. The University has its own police force on campus 24/7. The campus is fenced around and you have to have an ID card in order to get into the buildings along campus. I would also feel more safe if I am always walking a friend when on campus.

Brendan Farmer

Zimmerman explained in his article the possible dangers of symbols presented on college campuses. Those symbols include statues, flags, and images of war. I can say I feel safe in this country with the amount of security and military survailence. I do however get offended by some symbols or actions taken against such symbols. I am for the Confederate flag but I get offended if people try to destroy it or try to take it down. Colleges should teach students on culture and the meaning behind such symbols instead of hiding the meaning behind a closed door.

Arielly Borges

Zimmerman has a good point when he said that college campuses shelter people. Students have to be aware of the real world. We learn in school all those things, but when we are out, we have a huge shock because the real world is totally different. We should be able to have more real experiences and get out of the comfort zone.

Hannah Tucker

I agree with Zimmerman because what he said is very true. Sometimes making a college more safe can cause bad. Sheltering too much can be bad due to in the real life there will not be a safe space. Getting out of comfort zone and making changes is a good thing not bad.

Erin Crotty

Jonathan Zimmerman argues that college campuses should not be safe spaces, and should instead force students to face views and opinions that go against their own. His purpose for writing this article is to criticize the schools that are making their campuses safer for students and to call students to action and allow their views to be challenged, rather than shying away from any possible discomfort. Zimmerman states that when schools remove symbols that make students feel unsafe, they are going against the very purpose of education, which is face ideas and beliefs that differ from your own. He argues that college safe spaces actually make students feel censored and scared to speak their mind, and that goes against the concept of a safe space.
I agree with Zimmerman’s view that students need to have their views challenged. If they are faced with something that they do not necessarily agree with, they can learn from the other side of the argument and develop their beliefs. Having another opinion on a topic can help further complicate your opinion, which allows you to engage in discussions with other people and have meaningful and insightful educational conversations. However, I believe that colleges should censor their students in some ways because it is not safe to have people vocalizing their radical views that may lead to physical harm for some students.

Wesley  Justice

In his article, Zimmerman brings up the issue of safe spaces on college campuses. He brings up how that every group can say something offends them and its symbol would be erased from college campuses. Because of this, many students hold their tongues and don’t have good discussions that challenges their ideas. The author taught a undergraduate class for prisoners and said that the prisoners didn’t hold back on their thoughts because they understand the difference between action and violence. Zimmerman says that colleges shouldn’t censor what their students hear or see, but instead should challenge their beliefs.
I do agree with the author, there should not be safe spaces in colleges because there are none in the real world. You can’t go through your life destroying things that you don’t agree with. You need to respect other opinions while at the same time hold true to your own. Have a discussion and do not get offended when someone disagrees with you. Listen before you argue.

Michelle Bolin

I disagree with Zimmerman, students should feel safe at college campuses. If there is anything that makes them feel unsafe then it should be removed permanently.It's what these statues stand for that makes it unsafe. The reasoning behind this, is there are active groups that spew out hate and use these monuments to help advocate white supremacy. The way society is today some would say there is no safe place. But there are many securities that are in place like our laws that suppose to protect people.Yes people have freedom of speech. but there are consequences to any act of violence to any individual.


A number of people have recently suggested that we need in our classrooms and on campuses a safe space. Jonathan Zimmerman argues that words and ideas don't cause actual harm and that we should be challenging people’s feelings and beliefs. Mr. Zimmerman disagrees when he writes, "But they have no right to be insulated from it, simply because it hurts their feelings." In other words, just because something may be hard to talk about doesn't mean we should shy away from it to ensure no one's feelings get hurt.
I agree that we should not have safe spaces because in my experience, by being able to express my opinions and not have to worry about hurting someone's feelings, I am able to learn more and see another people’s view about the topic. I wholeheartedly endorse what Mr. Zimmerman says about the safe space doctrine creating huge barriers to dialogue and how it ultimately censors’ people’s thoughts. Yet some readers may challenge the view that they don't feel safe and can’t learn when they feel that way. Ultimately, what is at stake here is our freedom of speech and no one should be silenced just to make sure someone else doesn't get their feelings hurt.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

About They Say / I Blog

  • New readings posted monthly, on the same issues that are covered in “They Say / I Say” with Readings—and with a space where readers can comment, and join the conversation.

Follow us on Twitter to get updates about new posts and more! @NortonWrite

Become a Fan