Unsigned: Addressing the issue of insensitivity in, and disregard of, our safe places

At what point do we draw a line between the humorous and the political and morally incorrect? More importantly, at what point is it necessary to forgo certain rights and freedoms in order to assuage the fears and sensitivities of others? This is not the first time these questions are being asked, and it certainly would not be the last.

Over the past week, there have been some publicized incidents of what many regard as blatantly inappropriate behavior. At Brock University, there were collective outcries over a poster made by some student leaders, which read: “Honk if you are dropping off your daughter.”

Miles away at Carleton University, there were more outcries over a photo of students wearing a shirt upon which “fuck safe space” was printed.

These two incidents are especially appalling because the perpetrators were not unassuming students, but people who serve as student leaders.

These incidents are neither accidental nor isolated, but rather, they are evident of the much bigger problem of indifference and unconcealed insensitivity towards critical issues of social concern. They are evident of a society that has become numb to wrongdoings, and one that continuously mistakes the unconventional for the conventional.

How, then, are we to remedy this problem? Are we to simply ignore inappropriate behaviours? Are we to say, lazily, that “boys will be boys” or “they are kids, and will outgrow their meanness and insensitivity?”

Or are we simply to harden ourselves to such an extent that those occurrences of misconduct become heavily ignorable? No, we believe this problem must be faced head-on. Students, especially student leaders, must be trained to better understand the differences between being humorous and being disrespectful.

More importantly, they must all be able to recognize the importance of maintaining and abiding by their collective safe places, free of implicit and explicit discrimination.

Another important dimension to this debate is one that is close to home. How equipped is our university to deal with future cases of disregard by students of their peers?

Would the administration, in an attempt to defend its reputation, be more inclined to push scandal under the rug, or would they gravitate towards addressing the issue appropriately?

Until we are able to discern this, we urge students on campus to remember the importance of thoughtfulness, in words and in action, because not everyone is able to simply “forget” about abuse.

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