Students Demand Resignation of Northern Arizona University President After She Condemns Safe Spaces
Students at Northern Arizona University are demanding the resignation of President Rita Cheng after she condemned campus safe spaces.
At a recent forum, students were invited to pose questions to President Cheng. One student asked Cheng about her feelings towards the concept of campus safe spaces, or environments where students can go to be sheltered from ideas.
“As a university professor, I’m not sure I have any support at all for safe space,” Cheng asserted. “I think that you as a student have to develop the skills to be successful in this world and that we need to provide you with the opportunity for discourse and debate and dialogue and academic inquiry, and I’m not sure that that is correlated with the notion of safe space as I’ve seen that.”
“That’s what we’re doing and safe spaces are not about that. It’s about certain groups being targeted and nothing is being done about it,” said NAU senior Nina Wilson after walking out of Professor Cheng’s forum event.
The NAU Student Action Coalition walked out of the forum event after Cheng’s response and drafted a statement claiming that the President’s “resignation is necessary,” specifically citing her responses at the forum event as the catalyst for their call for her to step down.
“Creating segregated spaces for different groups on our campus only [leads] to misunderstanding, distrust, and [reduces] the opportunity for discussion and engagement and education around diversity,” NAU President for Media Relations Kimberly Ott told KPNX regarding Cheng’s responses at the forum event.
Just last week, a student at Northern Arizona State was docked points on an essay assignment due to the use of the word “mankind,” which the professors considered improper usage of gendered language.