The Civilist: Duke, UNC Students Answer Questions On Free Speech, Trigger Warnings And Safe Spaces

Nov 10, 2016

In this episode of The Civilist podcast, I invited two kick-ass college senior to join me in answering questions from their peers about college life, free speech, trigger warnings and more.

Chinyere Amanze, who is majoring in international comparative studies with a focus on Africa, is from my alma mater, Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. And from down Tobacco Road — the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is also Duke’s NCAA basketball rival — I welcomed Monique LaBorde, who is pursuing degrees in gender and Southern studies.

Here are the questions they answered:

Why are “safe spaces” necessary?

“I've noticed some clubs and professors at my school are setting up safe spaces for events. One of my professors also puts 'trigger warnings' on assignments. But I don’t get why this is necessary. To me, college is a time to learn; the real world doesn’t give trigger warnings. I feel like the whole thing is trying to limit free speech and force everyone to be politically correct. And I want to say something when this comes up. But what do I say?”

I’m white. Is it OK for me to sing lyrics with the n-word in it?

“So, I love hip-hop. But I’m white. I would never use racial slurs in real life, but is it OK to sing along with rap lyrics if they’re using the n-word or something? What if I’m just with other white people? I’m glad this is anonymous. Thank you.”

How do I respond to ‘old people’ who whine about millennials?

“I’m over old people and the media whining about 'millennials.' They’re always talking about how lazy, entitled and narcissistic we are. I mean, it's totally ridiculous when you think about how we were raised, you know, to reach for the best opportunities. ...  Anyway, the economy fell apart and these baby boomers are still in their jobs, and that means I don't have one. It's not my fault that the economy is the way it is or that jobs are as bad as they are. But I need a good comeback whenever some old person tries to lump me in together with all the rest of the millennials, like we're a bunch of degenerates. What can I say?”