The New York Times claims that supporters of president-elect Donald Trump are seeking their own “safe spaces” on American campuses, despite an apparent lack of evidence.
“On Campus, Trump Fans Say They Need ‘Safe Spaces’” reads the headline to a piece by NYT reporter Anemona Hartocollis. The term evokes the many “safe spaces” created on campuses around the country, intended to give racial minorities, gay students, or progressives a place to escape the alleged traumas of the real world. For instance, the University of Michigan created such a safe space last spring so students could avoid a debate about feminism.
Safe spaces have routinely been ridiculed by conservatives, yet the Times’ headline suggests that with the election over they have gotten in the action, demanding their own safe spaces to protect themselves from unwanted opinions.
But despite the title, the article doesn’t provide a single example of a collegiate Trump supporter stating the need for a safe space. Instead, the piece only broadly states that “some” students across America are demanding conservative safe spaces. That may be the case, but the Times quotes nobody and offers no specific examples.
Instead, the Times piece mostly just profiles the efforts of conservatives and Trump backers to fight against alleged institutional bias on campus. The first half of the article lists numerous examples of college administrators providing succor to post-election protesters and students who claimed psychological distress from Clinton’s defeat. In the second half, Hartocollis describes a meeting between liberals and conservatives at the University of Michigan. While one of the liberal participants is described as angry over conservatives supposedly calling for safe spaces, no conservative is ever quoted making such a demand.
Amanda Deletka, one of the students profiled in the Times piece, said that none of Michigan’s College Republicans had requested a safe space during their nearly four-hour-long sitdown with Hartocollis.
“None of us asked for a safe space,” Deletka said. “We in no way want to hide amongst ourselves.” Instead, Deletka said, she and her fellow Republicans discussed their desire for a forum where they could express their views without being dismissed or shouted down.
Deletka had no issue with Hartocollis’ reporting, describing it as one of the fairest takes she had seen on Trump supporters during and after the election. Instead, her only issue was with the NYT’s choice of headline.
The Times’ misleading headline was picked up elsewhere. The Mary Sue reported on the story with the headline “Without Irony, Students Who Voted for Trump Request Safe Space on Campus.”
“Students at the University of Michigan who voted for Donald Trump have asked for safe spaces away from students who do not share their political views,” The Mary Sue said, despite the fact no such request is described in the article. Salon got in on the act as well, also breathlessly reporting the Times’ unsubstantiated headline.