Editorial: are there safe spaces?

We are proud of Issue 9 for many reasons, and hope that it showcases the hard work that student groups at Trent put into making such successful events possible. It’s tough to come across a cover like this anywhere, especially in the mainstream media, where this spectrum of diversity is represented to such an extent.

Be proud of what you hold in your hands; it’s beautiful, unique and powerful. The images speak volumes. The hijab has become a political symbol whether we like it or not. In reclaiming and harnessing its message, we can begin to de-stigmatize the connotations applied to it. The hijab is a cultural and religious symbol that should be celebrated, and we simply do not do that enough in our society, as we are too wrapped up in projecting Western patriarchal assessments upon it.

Our newspaper serves as a balance to the hatred being perpetuated in Trent’s hallways amidst the politically charged climate which has seen the marginalized feel even more unsafe. In this issue you will read about why the recent protest took place on Symons Campus, along with input from students, faculty and administration. If you look back to last year, you will see that harassment at Trent was alive and well, lurking in Trent Facebook groups where administration and students had to have a similar dialogue on safe spaces and Trent’s accountability, or lack thereof, in ensuring that safe space.

Many people hypothesize that recent acts of violence and hatred stem from Trump’s victory, as the individuals involved feel emboldened due to the election results. While this certainly has played a part, the behaviours are all too familiar to incidents at Trent that took place pre-election. One only has to look back two years to Volume 49, when editors Matt Rappolt and Pat Reddick created deep controversy by making placing on their cover the story  of Braden Freer, ex-TCSA President conspiring with the Trent Conservatives group to disrupt an OPIRG Annual General Meeting, which led to a stream of harassment that the organization and its individual members had to endure for at least a year.

Why is this relevant? Because even though Freer resigned in light of the Arthur exposé, according to his LinkedIn, he went on to work for campus recruitment at Trent University. When people wonder how a supposedly intellectual and civilized student body digressed into ski-masked cowards clamouring for attention on our campus under a pretense of free speech, the answers can often be found in what this newspaper has uncovered.

It is unfortunate that the acts of a few have put the integrity and reputation of this campus into question. The way that students and teachers have come together in response to these activities portrays the values we maintain as an institution that prides itself in the freedom of ideas, and the liberty to express those ideas without fear.

Polarities on campus have called into question the true meaning of free speech and what it entails. Individuals sending mass emails out to students threatening them with lawsuits defeats the purpose of those individuals defending themselves in the name of free speech.

Trent University has to consider what a space space truly means. There seems to be a blurring of lines in terms of what is and is not okay to say to someone on campus, and the unenviable task of unpacking this issue is the responsibility of Trent’s leadership. This does not lessen the impact of what has happened on campus, but rather, leaves us pondering the hashtag #MakeTrentSafe.

Is it even possible to have a safe space anymore? The world is increasingly seeming like a dangerous place. Not a single one of us are free from the fear and intimidation that comes with standing up for what we know is right. Not even this newspaper is immune to the dangers that come with taking a stand, or to try and operate a safe space to express concepts of freedom and truth.

We must evaluate how we will move forward, and ensure that we can partake in respectful discourse without digressing into the hatred and antagonisms that threatens this campus, just as it has threatened  humanity since the beginning of time.