Ohio State Students Demand More ‘Safe Spaces’ For Dialogue

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief

Ohio State University’s student government wants more “safe spaces” all around the university to allow more private conversations.

The College Fix reports that the undergraduate student government voted unanimously this month to approve a resolution calling for various “Dialogue Spaces… meant to accommodate diverse and positive discussion within a safe space.”

The impetus for the creation of new dialogue spaces was pegged somewhat inexactly on “recent issues in the past year” that made “students feel uncomfortable and raised concerns for a lack of dialogue.”

Unfortunately for those seeking a place for private dialogue and can’t seem to find their own safe space in their room or car, “the most commonly used space for diverse dialogue resides in the Multicultural Center, which only provides one limited space,” says the resolution.

The student government’s “director of diversity and inclusion” reiterated in an email to The College Fix that the new safe spaces are to be designated as “dialogue spaces” to differentiate them from other spaces that may be safe, but not necessarily for dialogue. Anthony Buss says these zones are required by the student body because “we wish to contribute in any way we can to the overall mental health and happiness of all students at Ohio State. As the Undergraduate Student Government, we are obligated to look into ways that our student constituents feel that can be done.”

The task ahead for the student government remains one identifying precisely where these dialogue zones should appear and then to secure the space to make it so.

According to Noah Bidna, who spoke in favor of the resolution at the student council meeting,  “Every administrator I’ve spoken to has been in support and it has been even more necessary due to how Buckeyes are feeling on campus and there is a further need for dialogue spaces.”

If necessary, existing rooms at the university might have to be used for this purpose.

The students are also investigating the possibility of including dialogue spaces within a new addition to the taxpayer-funded university that is currently under review.

Other universities have used student and administration resources in the search for these dialogue spaces. The University of Nebraska is cited as a model of achievement as well as the architectural accomplishments at the University of Michigan’s Spectrum Center and Michigan State’s “Safe Space.”

The dialogue spaces at Ohio State would be accessible to all as “no student demographic or individual may be barred from using this space,” the resolution adds.

There is no specific timeline for the project, though the students don’t anticipate completion this semester but “sometime in the future.”

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