In the past week, college students around the country have said they no longer feel safe on their campuses.
More than 100 colleges witnessed demonstrations Thursday, with complaints including a perceived lack of inclusiveness and a hostile learning environment. Protestors accused schools of systemic racism.
As a result, students have called for the removal of their presidents, deans, and chancellors for the lack of action in addressing their demands. University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe’s resignation sparked calls for removal of school officials across the nation. It still remains unclear how Wolfe could have prevented certain individuals from acting inappropriately.
Dean Mary Spellman at Claremont McKenna stepped down following hunger strikes by two students that prompted protests on campus.
Ithaca College students have demanded their president, Tom Rochon, resign over ambiguous claims of racial tension. Those who decided to use their First Amendment right to counter-protest, defending Rochon’s nine years at the school, were called racist. Multiple students alleged those supporting the president only did so because he defends their "white supremacy."
Yale professors Nicholas and Erika Christakis told students they felt college administrators were insulting the competence of students by coddling them with advice for Halloween costumes. Erika wrote an email to her students expressing her opinion that the students could make their own decisions about what is and is not appropriate for the holiday.
Students at the Ivy League school responded in outrage. Over 1,000 students demonstrated and have called for their removal. Some students even confronted Nicholas in the middle of the quad. Dozens surrounded him and screamed profanities, accusing him of creating an environment where students no longer felt at home, just for suggesting students determine for themselves what is offensive.
"Why the fuck did you accept the position?" one Yale student said to Nicholas after disagreed with her opinion. "Who the fuck hired you? You should step down!"
A common theme among the protests has been the idea of creating a "safe space."
"It is not about creating an intellectual space," the student shouted at Nicholas. "It is about creating a home here!"
The safe space push on college campuses has pitted students against the media trying to cover the story. A video of protestors harassing student reporter Tim Tai as he tried to photograph the tent city in Missouri’s quad has gone viral.
"It is as if they’ve weaponized the concept of ‘safe spaces,’" The Atlantic’s Connor Friedersdorf wrote.
Critics have called the backlash on campuses a troubling sign of a coddled generation’s sensitivity to opposing opinions. The intolerance for dissent has led to some calling recent events the resurgence of illiberal protest.
South Park co-creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker addressed the issue in this season of the show: