Autonomous space

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"Safe space" redirects here. For articles specifically about autonomous spaces in schools for LGBT students, see Safe-space.
For other uses, see Autonomy (disambiguation).

An autonomous space or safe space is a social space which is restricted with respect to social relations and/or behavior.[1] For example a club or forum may be limited to women, black women, or any set of people with something in common who want or need an exclusive social space.[2]

The point of a safe space is to provide social space that is safe for marginalized people. Harassment of the group sheltered is censored. The rights of privileged people are subordinate.[3] Creation and maintenance of a safe space which is intended to benefit a group should be distinguished from discriminatory segregation imposed by a dominant social group which is intended to harm a group.

Participants in a safe space report feelings of empowerment and liberation.[4]

Organizational behavior guidelines[edit]

Organizations, including Wikipedia,[5] but particularly institutions of higher learning, may establish policies which prohibit harassment, but may permit discussion of controversial issues:[6]

Others may offer refuges even from talk considered traumatic[1] or prohibit events or persons whose presence might, for some, make a campus not safe.[7]


A faculty member at Marquette University who quoted in a blog the following assertion by a graduate instructor to a student, named the graduate instructor, and criticized her, was stripped of tenure:[8]

Naming of the graduate instructor resulted in significant misogynistic internet harassment.[10] Nevertheless there was criticism that academic freedom was violated.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Judith Shulevitz (March 21, 2015). "In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas" (OP-ED SUNDAY REVIEW). The New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2015. 
  2. ^ Julia Long (December 7, 2012). "So I'm a feminist troublemaker for requesting some women-only space?" (COMMENT IS FREE, THE GUARDIAN). The Guardian. Retrieved March 24, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Code of Conduct". Retrieved March 24, 2015. The Geek Feminism community prioritizes marginalized people’s safety over privileged people’s comfort. 
  4. ^ Ruth Lewis & Elizabeth Sharp (November 14, 2013). "What's so safe about feminist, women-only space?". Feminist Times. Retrieved March 24, 2015. Women reported the experience of women-only space as profoundly significant in their lives. 
  5. ^ Wikipedia:Harassment
  6. ^ Louise Tickle (February 2, 2015). "Free speech? Not at four in five UK universities According to research by online magazine Spiked 80% of universities have restrictions on free speech – from banning sombreros to excluding the Sun". The Guardian. Retrieved March 25, 2015. At Portsmouth University, student union president Grant Clarke says in a statement that policies aimed at defending students from racist, sexist and homophobic harassment don’t preclude people from openly talking and discussing these issues, “but we don’t accept these behaviours on our campus”. 
  7. ^ Karen McVeigh (February 2, 2015). "Goldsmiths cancels free speech show by comedian Kate Smurthwaite Comedy society pulls event as feminist campaigners threatened to picket it over her views on decriminalising prostitution". The Guardian. Retrieved March 25, 2015. I was told it was due to a likelihood of a breach of Goldsmiths’ ‘safe space policy’. I’m a zero threat to anybody’s safe space policy. If someone disagrees with me, I want to be able to talk about it.” 
  8. ^ a b Conor Friedersdorf (February 9, 2015). "Stripping a Professor of Tenure Over a Blog Post Marquette University's attack on academic freedom". The Atlantic. Retrieved March 23, 2015. ... our Faculty Statutes expressly authorize the University to revoke tenure when circumstances arise from a faculty member's conduct which clearly and substantially fail to meet the standard of personal and professional excellence which generally characterizes University faculties," with the further requirement that "through this conduct a faculty member's value will probably be substantially impaired." Examples of conduct that will substantially impair the value or utility of a faculty member include: "serious instances of ... dishonorable, irresponsible, or incompetent conduct." As detailed above, your conduct clearly, convincingly and substantially has impaired your value. 
  9. ^ "Harassment Policy". Marquette University:Office of Student Development. Marquette University. March 23, 2015. Retrieved March 23, 2015. Harassment is defined as verbal, written or physical conduct directed at a person or a group based on color, race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, disability, veteran status, age, gender or sexual orientation where the offensive behavior is intimidating, hostile or demeaning or could or does result in mental, emotional or physical discomfort, embarrassment, ridicule or harm. Harassing conduct can be either a single incident or a persistent pattern of behavior. 
  10. ^ Cheryl Abbate (January 20, 2015). "Gender Based Violence, Responsibility, and John McAdams" (BLOG). Cheryl Abbate blog. Retrieved March 23, 2015. 

External links[edit]