Social media is often the antithesis of a safe space

By | February 5, 2016

chronicle of higher education

Back in mid-November 2015, I attended the Association of Opinion Journalists Minority Writers Seminar on a fellowship.

During the four day workshop at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, I banged out a rough personal essay about what happened the first time I assigned my journalism students to use Twitter. It was a commentary piece I’d been itching to write since I began working full time as a journalism professor, but I could never quite find the timely news hook or time to write it.

Then the “safe spaces” on campus battle heated up during Concerned Student 1950 protests at Mizzou in October 2015. I realized there aren’t safe spaces on social media. Could vicarious trauma from social media’s hostile environment be part of the reason why students want “safe spaces” in real life?

How I got the essay published: I first pitched it to the New York Times opinion section at the end of November (no response). I rewrote some of it and pitched Washington Post opinion (no response). My third pitch to the Chronicle of Higher Education and complete rewrite – from top to bottom – finally met with success. Here’s the article “Yes, Campuses Should be Safe Spaces — For Debate,” published in the February 5, 2016 issue:

Many thanks to the folks at the AOJ Minority Writers Seminar who motivated me to write the essay.


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