Special Reports

Duke University To Debut 'Safe Space' Room This Year


Duke University will be launching a "safe space" room to be available to its students this year. It will be called "Sanford Safe Space."

The College Fix reported that the room will be making its debut this year in a former faculty office turned safe space. Duke University spokesperson Karen Kemp confirmed that the news is correct.

"It's the first day of classes, and the professors who lead the school's diversity and inclusion committee aren't available to chat further about this," she told the publication in an email. "They commented that their views and the purpose of the space are covered in the article."

It is unknown whether the room has already been built or is still being constructed. Its location has been identified, though. The room is part of the school's efforts to make people see that a safe space is "a complement, not impediment, to effective debate."

This comes after the University of Chicago stirred controversy by taking a stand against "safe spaces" on campus. "We do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual 'safe spaces' where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own," Dean of Students John Ellison said.

According to The Duke Chronicle, a student newspaper, the room will make its debut this year in Rubenstein 120, Kathryn Whetten's old office. She is a committee co-chair and a research professor of global health.

Whetten noted that the room will be an experiment in helping people heal. A social worker will also be present. It is open to all groups, from minorities to military members to conservatives.

"We want to have a place for people who feel marginalized and face constant attention for characteristics that are immutable-like their skin color or their religion, their immigration status or whether they're from another country-to be able to heal," she said. The program is still more of a "general concept," she added.

Moreover, the university will be setting up a discussion series throughout the school year to tackle issues on free speech, microaggressions and challenges like policing.

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