RWS 280 Paper #1: Writing an account of an argument 3 pages MLA FORMATonly one cited source which is the reading that im going to provide. https://nyti.ms/1IbzI2F
CONTRIBUTING OP-ED WRITER
In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas
MARCH 21, 2015
KATHERINE BYRON, a senior at Brown University and a member of its Sexual
Assault Task Force, considers it her duty to make Brown a safe place for rape
victims, free from anything that might prompt memories of trauma.
So when she heard last fall that a student group had organized a debate about
campus sexual assault between Jessica Valenti, the founder of feministing.com, and
Wendy McElroy, a libertarian, and that Ms. McElroy was likely to criticize the term
“rape culture,” Ms. Byron was alarmed. “Bringing in a speaker like that could serve
to invalidate people’s experiences,” she told me. It could be “damaging.”
Ms. Byron and some fellow task force members secured a meeting with
administrators. Not long after, Brown’s president, Christina H. Paxson, announced
that the university would hold a simultaneous, competing talk to provide “research
and facts” about “the role of culture in sexual assault.” Meanwhile, student
volunteers put up posters advertising that a “safe space” would be available for
anyone who found the debate too upsetting.
The safe space, Ms. Byron explained, was intended to give people who might
find comments “troubling” or “triggering,” a place to recuperate. The room was
equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows,
blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members
trained to deal with trauma. Emma Hall, a junior, rape survivor and “sexual assault
peer educator” who helped set up the room and worked in it during the debate,
estimates that a couple of dozen people used it. At one point she went to the lecture
hall — it was packed — but after a while, she had to return to the safe space. “I was
feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely
held beliefs,” Ms. Hall said.
Safe spaces are an expression of the conviction, increasingly prevalent among college
students, that their schools should keep them from being “bombarded” by
discomfiting or distressing viewpoints. Think of the safe space as the live-action
version of the better-known trigger warning, a notice put on top of a syllabus or an
assigned reading to alert students to the presence of potentially disturbing material.
Some people trace safe spaces back to the feminist consciousness-raising groups
of the 1960s and 1970s, others to the gay and lesbian movement of the early 1990s.
In most cases, safe spaces are innocuous gatherings of like-minded people who agree
to refrain from ridicule, criticism or what they term microaggressions — subtle
displays of racial or sexual bias — so that everyone can relax enough to explore the
nuances of, say, a fluid gender identity. As long as all parties consent to such
restrictions, these little islands of self-restraint seem like a perfectly fine idea.
But the notion that ticklish conversations must be scrubbed clean of controversy
has a way of leaking out and spreading. Once you designate some spaces as safe, you
imply that the rest are unsafe. It follows that they should be made safer.
This logic clearly informed a campaign undertaken this fall by a Columbia
University student group called Everyone Allied Against Homophobia that consisted
of slipping a flier under the door of every dorm room on campus. The headline of the
flier stated, “I want this space to be a safer space.” The text below instructed students
to tape the fliers to their windows. The group’s vice president then had the flier
published in the Columbia Daily Spectator, the student newspaper, along with an
editorial asserting that “making spaces safer is about learning how to be kind to each
A junior named Adam Shapiro decided he didn’t want his room to be a safer
space. He printed up his own flier calling it a dangerous space and had that, too,
published in the Columbia Daily Spectator. “Kindness alone won’t allow us to gain
more insight into truth,” he wrote. In an interview, Mr. Shapiro said, “If the point of
a safe space is therapy for people who feel victimized by traumatization, that sounds
like a great mission.” But a safe-space mentality has begun infiltrating classrooms,
he said, making both professors and students loath to say anything that might hurt
someone’s feelings. “I don’t see how you can have a therapeutic space that’s also an
intellectual space,” he said.
I’m old enough to remember a time when college students objected to providing
a platform to certain speakers because they were deemed politically unacceptable.
Now students worry whether acts of speech or pieces of writing may put them in
emotional peril. Two weeks ago, students at Northwestern University marched to
protest an article by Laura Kipnis, a professor in the university’s School of
Communication. Professor Kipnis had criticized — O.K., ridiculed — what she called
the sexual paranoia pervading campus life.
The protesters carried mattresses and demanded that the administration
condemn the essay. One student complained that Professor Kipnis was “erasing the
very traumatic experience” of victims who spoke out. An organizer of the
demonstration said, “we need to be setting aside spaces to talk” about “victimblaming.” Last Wednesday, Northwestern’s president, Morton O. Schapiro, wrote an
op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal affirming his commitment to academic
freedom. But plenty of others at universities are willing to dignify students’ fears,
citing threats to their stability as reasons to cancel debates, disinvite commencement
speakers and apologize for so-called mistakes.
At Oxford University’s Christ Church college in November, the college censors (a
“censor” being more or less the Oxford equivalent of an undergraduate dean)
canceled a debate on abortion after campus feminists threatened to disrupt it
because both would-be debaters were men. “I’m relieved the censors have made this
decision,” said the treasurer of Christ Church’s student union, who had pressed for
the cancellation. “It clearly makes the most sense for the safety — both physical and
mental — of the students who live and work in Christ Church.”
A year and a half ago, a Hampshire College student group disinvited an
Afrofunk band that had been attacked on social media for having too many white
musicians; the vitriolic discussion had made students feel “unsafe.”
Last fall, the president of Smith College, Kathleen McCartney, apologized for
causing students and faculty to be “hurt” when she failed to object to a racial epithet
uttered by a fellow panel member at an alumnae event in New York. The offender
was the free-speech advocate Wendy Kaminer, who had been arguing against the use
of the euphemism “the n-word” when teaching American history or “The Adventures
of Huckleberry Finn.” In the uproar that followed, the Student Government
Association wrote a letter declaring that “if Smith is unsafe for one student, it is
unsafe for all students.”
“It’s amazing to me that they can’t distinguish between racist speech and speech
about racist speech, between racism and discussions of racism,” Ms. Kaminer said in
The confusion is telling, though. It shows that while keeping college-level
discussions “safe” may feel good to the hypersensitive, it’s bad for them and for
everyone else. People ought to go to college to sharpen their wits and broaden their
field of vision. Shield them from unfamiliar ideas, and they’ll never learn the
discipline of seeing the world as other people see it. They’ll be unprepared for the
social and intellectual headwinds that will hit them as soon as they step off the
campuses whose climates they have so carefully controlled. What will they do when
they hear opinions they’ve learned to shrink from? If they want to change the world,
how will they learn to persuade people to join them?
Only a few of the students want stronger anti-hate-speech codes. Mostly they
ask for things like mandatory training sessions and stricter enforcement of existing
rules. Still, it’s disconcerting to see students clamor for a kind of intrusive
supervision that would have outraged students a few generations ago. But those were
hardier souls. Now students’ needs are anticipated by a small army of service
professionals — mental health counselors, student-life deans and the like. This new
bureaucracy may be exacerbating students’ “self-infantilization,” as Judith Shapiro,
the former president of Barnard College, suggested in an essay for Inside Higher Ed.
But why are students so eager to self-infantilize? Their parents should probably
share the blame. Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School,
wrote on Slate last month that although universities cosset students more than they
used to, that’s what they have to do, because today’s undergraduates are more
puerile than their predecessors. “Perhaps overprogrammed children engineered to
the specifications of college admissions offices no longer experience the risks and
challenges that breed maturity,” he wrote. But “if college students are children, then
they should be protected like children.”
Another reason students resort to the quasi-medicalized terminology of trauma
is that it forces administrators to respond. Universities are in a double bind. They’re
required by two civil-rights statutes, Title VII and Title IX, to ensure that their
campuses don’t create a “hostile environment” for women and other groups subject
to harassment. However, universities are not supposed to go too far in suppressing
free speech, either. If a university cancels a talk or punishes a professor and a lawsuit
ensues, history suggests that the university will lose. But if officials don’t censure or
don’t prevent speech that may inflict psychological damage on a member of a
protected class, they risk fostering a hostile environment and prompting an
investigation. As a result, students who say they feel unsafe are more likely to be
heard than students who demand censorship on other grounds.
The theory that vulnerable students should be guaranteed psychological security
has roots in a body of legal thought elaborated in the 1980s and 1990s and still read
today. Feminist and anti-racist legal scholars argued that the First Amendment
should not safeguard language that inflicted emotional injury through racist or sexist
stigmatization. One scholar, Mari J. Matsuda, was particularly insistent that college
students not be subjected to “the violence of the word” because many of them “are
away from home for the first time and at a vulnerable stage of psychological
development.” If they’re targeted and the university does nothing to help them, they
will be “left to their own resources in coping with the damage wrought.” That might
have, she wrote, “lifelong repercussions.”
Perhaps. But Ms. Matsuda doesn’t seem to have considered the possibility that
insulating students could also make them, well, insular. A few weeks ago, Zineb El
Rhazoui, a journalist at Charlie Hebdo, spoke at the University of Chicago, protected
by the security guards she has traveled with since supporters of the Islamic State
issued death threats against her. During the question-and-answer period, a Muslim
student stood up to object to the newspaper’s apparent disrespect for Muslims and
to express her dislike of the phrase “I am Charlie.”
Ms. El Rhazoui replied, somewhat irritably, “Being Charlie Hebdo means to die
because of a drawing,” and not everyone has the guts to do that (although she didn’t
use the word guts). She lives under constant threat, Ms. El Rhazoui said. The student
answered that she felt threatened, too.
A few days later, a guest editorialist in the student newspaper took Ms. El
Rhazoui to task. She had failed to ensure “that others felt safe enough to express
dissenting opinions.” Ms. El Rhazoui’s “relative position of power,” the writer
continued, had granted her a “free pass to make condescending attacks on a member
of the university.” In a letter to the editor, the president and the vice president of the
University of Chicago French Club, which had sponsored the talk, shot back, saying,
“El Rhazoui is an immigrant, a woman, Arab, a human-rights activist who has
known exile, and a journalist living in very real fear of death. She was invited to
speak precisely because her right to do so is, quite literally, under threat.”
You’d be hard-pressed to avoid the conclusion that the student and her defender
had burrowed so deep inside their cocoons, were so overcome by their own fragility,
that they couldn’t see that it was Ms. El Rhazoui who was in need of a safer space.
Judith Shulevitz is a contributing opinion writer and the author of “The Sabbath World:
Glimpses of a Different Order of Time.”
Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter.
A version of this op-ed appears in print on March 22, 2015, on Page SR1 of the New York edition with the
headline: Hiding From Scary Ideas.
© 2018 The New York Times Company
RWS 280 PAPER #1:
WRITING AN ACCOUNT
OF AN ARGUMENT
College is all about learning new ideas, new cultures, new ways of life, and new perspectives.
Moreover, you are asked to take a variety of general education courses that aim to broaden
your horizon. But what happens when someone says something you don’t agree with? Do you
want to censor them? Or would you rather engage in a dialectic?
For your first essay, you will be responsible for writing an account of an academic text’s
argument. Specifically, you will focus on Judith Shulevitz’s “In College & Hiding from Scary
Places.” In your essay, you will need to focus on the following elements:
Identify: Who is the author? What is her credibility to speak on the subject?
Identify: Who is the intended audience?
Analyze: What is the context of the article? Why is the context important? How does
the context affect the argument being made?
Analyze: What is Shulevitz’s purpose for writing the article?
Identify & Analyze: What is Shulevitz’s primary claim?
Identify & Analyze: What evidence does Shulevitz use to support her claim?
3-4 pages in length
MLA 8 Format
MLA 8 Works Cited Page
Because you are asked to write an account of an argument, you are not required to
evaluate whether or not Shulevitz’s argument was effective or ineffective. Instead, just
focus on walking your reader through the choices Shulevitz makes in order to make her
o Effectively addresses all aspects of the prompt
o Fully grasps Shulevitz’s article and showcases knowledge cogently
o Details/analyzes chosen texts thoroughly and thoughtfully
o Writer thoroughly address elements of the argument, including author, context,
audience, purpose, claims, and evidence.
o Essay flows logically from introduction → body → conclusion
o Sentence level organization is strong
▪ Writer uses appropriate syntax, grammar, punctuation
02.05: Complete Reading “In College & Hiding from Scary Places”
02.05: In-Class Argument Map
02.12: Peer Review Workshop
02.19: Final Draft Due on Blackboard by 11:59 p.m. (midnight)
STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES
→ Develop an effective process of reading for comprehension
→ Develop an effective writing process—including prewriting, drafting, revision, and selfevaluation
→ Analyze the elements of academic texts—particularly argument, genre, audience,
context, purpose, and strategies
→ Articulate in writing key rhetorical concepts.
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