News, Student Organization

International students designate organization suite as ‘safe space’

news_safespace_vm

The Council of International Students and Organizations (COISO) was the first organization in the student organization suite area of the Shalala Student Center to make a poster designating itself a “safe space” this past week. The sign was created in response to a discussion that erupted on social media after UM College Republicans (CR) posted a “Safe Spaces are for Children” sign on the door of the office they share with Young and College Democrats.

Avisha Gopalakrishna, a member of COISO, designed the poster, which incorporates a pledge from the University of Colorado Boulder about the acceptance of all people.

Gopalakrishna said she didn’t agree with the sign but understood the reasoning behind it after reading the statement CR President Chris Dalton gave to The Miami Hurricane.

In the statement, Dalton wrote that the sign would remain on the door of the political suite because “The movement for safe spaces on college campuses has been hijacked and transformed from an earnest effort to protect victims of abuse into a closed-minded crusade to shut out all ideological dissent.”

“I didn’t agree with them but I understood their intentions behind it. They are right, there should be a freedom of discussion and the only way to represent the other side of the idea is that our office is a safe space,” Gopalakrishna said. “We respect them for their freedom of speech and we hope that it applies to us as well.”

Aalekhya Reddam, a member of COISO, first thought of the idea to declare the office as a safe space to emulate the university’s values of acceptance that she had become accustomed to.

“When I first saw the College Republicans sign I was disappointed,” Reddam said. “I’ve felt so welcomed here at UM and this was the first time I felt like a group was segregating people.”

Because the COISO office is directly across from the political student suite, Gopalakrishna said she and the other members of the culturally-rich organization wanted to make a statement.

“This was an idea COISO felt strongly about because we cherish our office space and wanted to show that anyone who comes in here will be respected,” Gopalakrishna said.

When Reddam asked Gopalakrishna to design the poster, it was not meant to be “passive aggressive” toward CR but to show that COISO is a place for anyone.

“The basis of our organization is diversity and inclusion,” Reddam said. “The sign they put started a conversation … we wouldn’t be true to ourselves if we didn’t clarify that we were a safe space.”

The template of the poster was sent to other student organizations. SpectrUM, the university’s LGBT student organization, also put up a sign on its suite door.

November 2, 2016

Reporters

Isabella Cueto

Isabella Cueto can be reached via email at editor@themiamihurricane.com and through Twitter at @isabellacueto

Marcus Lim


Around the Web

The University of Miami student publications were recognized with multiple awards by the Society for

Hoping to ease hurdles for students to apply to master’s and doctoral programs, a new policy will re

Immunologist Natasa Strbo and her team are using their work on vaccines for HIV, malaria, and Zika t

Xavier Cortada leads the Miami Corona Project, an art program presented as part of the University of

University of Miami Libraries has launched Documenting COVID-19: South Florida’s Pandemic Experience

TMH Twitter
About Us

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.