Last year college Republicans were asked to leave Rodrigue's coffee house for provoking members by wearing pro-Trump attire within the shop. The reason they were asked to leave was because Rodrigue's upholds a "safe space" policy, which can be boiled down to the simple phrase: "No racism. No sexism. No homophobia." In the eyes of the members and patrons of Rod's, Trump embodied all of these things. Regardless of the politics of this specific incident, the phrase and policy seems redundant because this rhetoric can't possibly be allowed anywhere else on campus. Right?
As this incident made campus as well as national news Father McShane addressed the events in an e-mail to all students in which he made it clear he did not condone the approach of the College Republicans, as well as stated that Fordham has no official Safe Space policy and insinuated if it did this would silence voices on campus.
Let's examine what a safe space policy means and why it's important to so many members of the Fordham community. It simply means homophobic, sexist, and racist imagery and speech are not allowed. On a campus with racial minority, female, and queer students who chose to be members of the Fordham community as well as study here, live here, and pay obscene amounts of money to be a student, it does not make sense for these individuals to be subjected to abuses related to their identity. How can you focus in class when your professor misgenders you, a student makes a disparaging comment about your religion, or you fear for your physical safety due to the way you present yourself? Bigoted rhetoric is oppositional to academia.
Fordham is a private university, not a public one, and could easily legislate a basic safe space guideline on campus. I understand many of us that a safe space policy would protect do not experience outward aggression often, if at all, as the University does take steps to ensure our safety. So why no official policy? The answer is simple to me: money. Fordham receives hefty donations from conservative alumni whose own political ideology is contrary to the safe space policy. The choice to not outwardly support minority students is a decidedly economic and political one, despite Father McShane's plea for political peace on campus.
And what is wrong with silencing hateful voices? Tolerance is an incredibly important value, but should tolerance really extend to the intolerant? I found the logic behind not installing the policy as it would politically oppress individuals, incredibly interesting and telling. This means your politics are fatally bigoted and I would take a critical look at that. It's intrinsic to our perception of our school to remember that colleges are businesses and it is sometimes their prerogative to meet economic needs above the needs of their student body. However, this is hopeful. As patrons of this business, we can demand more of them and the most effective way to do this is economical. Invest money in places such as Rodrigue's to expand their voice, have your parents write letters to the school, tell at-risk individuals to not apply, and encourage alumni to earmark their money for minority student initiatives or withhold it unless the school legislates a safe space policy.
We as a student body should care for one another and above all respect the personhood of everyone on and off campus. Consider honoring the policy in your own lives and social circles, and demand Fordham to officially do the same.