How We Define a Safe Space at WPI
Safe space is a fluid metaphor that is largely used to describe the learning environment of a classroom, however, it can and has been used to describe any physical space that “allows students to feel secure enough to take risks, honestly express their views, and explore their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors” (Holley and Steiner, 2005, p. 50) without fear of retribution. As a larger social picture, safe spaces are environments where community members can find a place to openly discuss issues or topics connected to a wide variety of identity related subjects including, but not limited to: the LGBTIA+ community, racism, sexism, social justice, disabilities, religion and spirituality.
Our community offers spaces where the needs of those identities are met. We have resources and information on where to navigate a wheelchair on campus, where to find a private area to pray, where to find gender-neutral restrooms on campus (there are several) and where to find designated safe spaces like the OASIS House. Safe spaces are also the individuals that occupy them – the Office of Multicultural Affairs and its dedicated trainers provide education and training to promote the understanding of issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer individuals and everyone that falls somewhere along that spectrum. We also have a dedicated nursing room for working mothers/parents/guardians, located in the Gordon Library and The Disability Services Office provides services for students who may need inclusive short or long-term accommodations, including that for testing and the use of assistive technology.