Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a commencement speech at he University of Michigan that drew mixed reactions from students, The Michigan Daily reported.
During the speech on April 30, Bloomberg voiced his perception that college students are overly sensitive and shouldn’t need safe spaces to deal with difficult situations.
“The fact that some university boards and administrations now bow to pressure and shield students from these ideas through ‘safe spaces,’ ‘code words,’ and ‘trigger warnings’ is, in my view, a terrible mistake,” he said, to some applause.
But when he waded into the territory of microaggresions, students did not react positively.
“The whole purpose of college is to learn how to deal with difficult situations — not run away from them. A microaggression is exactly that: micro,” he said amid a chorus of boos.
Some students also shouted epithets at him during the speech, The Daily reported.
He further argued that there’s danger in creating safe spaces on college campuses because they don’t exist in the real world.
“One of the most dangerous places on a college campus is a safe space because it creates the false impression that we can insulate ourselves from those who hold different views,” he said. “In the global economy, and in a democratic society, an open mind is the most valuable asset you can possess.”
A tweet after his speech reinforced the theme.
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) April 30, 2016
His remarks come on the heels of tension on Michigan’s campus after anti-Islam chalkings appeared on campus.
And elsewhere, the idea of safe spaces and free speech have presisted as a theme at colleges across the nation, as students have protested perceived discrimination and institutional racism.
Not all students were opposed to Bloomberg’s comments, however. Applause also rang out at various times during the speech.
“I thought it was good to bring up a little bit of controversy,” recent Michigan graduate Sarah Kulhanek told The Daily. “This is a university. You have to be able to learn and grow as a person.”
Bloomberg did not immediately respond for comment.
Watch a portion of his speech below.
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