Outside the publication house, snow falls. Inside, your loyal Cipher staff puts the final touches on Block 4’s issue. On this particular Saturday morning, in its first front-page editorial in 95 years, The New York Times called for outlawing the kinds of rifles used in the massacre that left 14 people dead at a holiday party in San Bernardino last Wednesday.
For the families of the victims of gun violence in California, Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut (I could go on), “safe space” means something very different than it does to CC students who continue to argue over Yik Yak: What, exactly, is its purpose? No one seems to have figured this one out. When anonymous social media applications are being used for sex- and race-based harassment, what obligation—if any—does our administration have to respond? In Jack Queen’s article that revolves around the expulsion and two-year (later shortened to one-year) suspension of two students, it is clear that the school’s answer to this question is divided (pg. 16). And, whether or not you think citing infringements of free speech is a shoddy excuse for not upholding student safety, the First Amendment has certainly entered the conversation. Even within the publication house this weekend, the editors were in disagreement over whether or not to include a trigger warning before one writer’s article in which she recounts her recovery and struggle with an eating disorder (pg. 40).
Focusing on apps may fail to address broader issues that have shown to be destructive to the CC community. Many students at campuses across the country are finding themselves in similar situations: “Where do we go from here?” If we spend all our energy on social media and not, say, on the social systems that allowed these flagrant posts to spread, then we inevitably fail to address the root causes of hostility and hatred so attackers do not have the power they have today—Yik Yak is just one venue.
You don’t implement gun control expecting the violence to end next week. You pass gun control to end violence ten to twenty years from now. Likewise, you don’t ban whatever the hottest social media app on campus is that month and pretend racism will go away, or worse, that it was never here to begin with, that these must have been isolated incidents. It does, however, fortify the chasm between those saying there’s no such thing as a “safe space” and those saying we need one now more than ever. Are we merely tenants of our college living out a four-year lease?
Whether you have three years or just five months left until that moment you can hold on to something tangible that says “Bachelor of Arts” with “Your Name Here” below, once we step off this campus, these problems will not disappear. Cultural revolutions don’t happen overnight, but sometimes they can happen in a generation or less. As The Denver Post, The Gazette, The Daily Beast and the Economist’s coverage of our small college has shown, the world is watching.
-Andrea More and the Cipher editors