All across campus this image is posted on office doors with the words "safe space" underneath it. I take pride in attending a university that is so open and accepting of all students no matter what their personal choices are. However, as a student that has been affected so severely by the war in Iraq I have to ask, "Where is my safe space?"
One of the truly beautiful values our country holds is the freedom of speech. The freedom to form our own thoughts and opinions about the world around us and to express those views out loud. However, there is a time and a place for standing tall on your own personal soap box and making your thoughts known to the world.
It is my firm belief that it is an educators job to guide young students in the direction of becoming analytically capable adults. An adult that is able to view the world around them and make decisions based on facts, life experience, and ethical judgement. Before going into the world of teaching it is important for one to ask themselves, "What do I want my students to take away from my class?" College is a confusing time when many students are just beginning to learn who they really are. Democrat, Republican, straight, gay, religious, or atheist. There are so many different paths to choose from and the role models we have in life often shape our future choices.
I believe there is a way in which politics should be addressed in the class room. I am all in favor of political discussions with my fellow peers. However, as a teacher your job is not to present your own personal ideas to the class but to become a moderator. Create class room discussion and watch as your students debate ideas and form opinions. Allow them to express their own thoughts and opinions rather than the ideas of others. By teaching them to dream, you teach them to be independent.
Upon walking into offices hours with my professor, I am hit with the following images that are smeared on his door.
Unfortunately, not all educators are able to be objective and many feel it is their right to teach from only their point of view. But how do I enter this office and tell this professor what is going on in my life with confidence that he will be accepting? I cannot know what to expect of his reaction when I tell him that my husband had his arm blown off in Iraq. Will he be understanding? Or will he look at me in disgust and begin to tell me why we should not be fighting this war?
This is not a safe space for me. I will not ever be able to sit down in this office and discuss my life with you. I will not give you a story that will add fuel to your fire. You will not use me in defense of your stand on the war. My husband is a survivor, I am a survivor, and we are proud of what we have given to this country. I'm not asking for anyone to change their views on the war. I'm asking for compassion. I'm asking for understanding. And I'm asking for support.