Roger Kimball, Safe from "Safe Spaces":
This is where things got interesting, and President Michael Drake came into his own. He sent osu Senior Vice President Jay Kasey as his ambassador to the protestors. Speaking in calm, measured tones (the video clip is widely available on the internet), Kasey explained that he was not there to negotiate. “Dr. Drake will never receive a list of demands and he will not negotiate with you.” Er, what? Yes, they heard right. They were in violation of the Student Code of Conduct, Kasey informed them, and if they did not vacate the building by a certain time, police officers would be called to clear the room. The administration was pleased, he added, to “give you the opportunity to go to jail for your beliefs.”
This wasn’t part of the script the students had signed on for. “What do you mean by ‘clear the room?’ ” one student asked. “Our police officers will physically pick you up,” Kasey patiently explained, “and take you to a paddy wagon and take you to be arrested. You will be discharged from school also.” Hmm. What do you mean “discharged?” someone asked. Probably, Kasey clarified, you will be expelled.
Gratifying as that exhibition of vertebracular stiffness was, what was most instructive was the rationale Kasey enunciated for insisting on the students’ removal: they were violating a “safe space.” The people who worked in the building, he explained, felt intimated by their presence. But how are we intimidating? whined one student, possibly one who had on another occasion claimed that reading Huckleberry Finn or dressing as an American Indian on Halloween constituted a micro-aggression that violated his safe space. It was a brilliant move and, judging from the response of the osu Police, was a coordinated effort. One Tweet from the university police advised the world that “Ohio State respects everyone’s 1st Amendment rights. @osupolice on hand to enhance safety and allow #Reclaimosu to voice peaceful concerns.” Who could be against “enhancing safety”?
In a single stroke, the osu administration, led by Michael Drake, had turned the table on the college crybullies who have been weaponizing their resentment and putative status as victims to wallow in an infantilizing bath of moralizing intolerance. We commend osu not only for its bracing exhibition of principle but also for its canny strategic gambit: seizing on the students’ own rhetoric to justify its disciplinary action, the university not only forestalled any effective response, it also . . . we were going to say, it also made the students look like fools, but no, the students accomplished that all on their own.