‘Secular safe zones’ offer campus shelter to atheist students

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The small sticker on professor Robert Schmidt’s office door isn’t just a decoration — it’s a beacon of safety for students who feel they are being singled out for their lack of religious beliefs.

The blue, green, yellow and pink rectangle signals that Schmidt’s office at Utah State University is a “Secular Safe Zone” — a place where students who are atheists, agnostics or just questioning their faith can go for advice about dealing with bullying, discrimination and other forms of aggression.

“Being an ally to ‘create safe spaces in which secular students can question, criticize, and discuss topics and issues important to them’ feels right to me,” Schmidt said from his Logan office, quoting the goals of the Secular Safe Zone program. “All students should feel safe on campus.”

Written By: Kimberly Winston
continue to source article at religionnews.com

17 COMMENTS

  1. This is a bad wheeze. Atheists claiming or setting up safe havens is playing the victim card. It is acknowledging that in the land of the free they are second class citizens.

    If some individual is being victimised, they need to get lawyered up and kick ass. Not go crawling away to mope in the quiet room provided for them so they stop bothering the natives.

    • In reply to #2 by Stevehill:

      This is a bad wheeze. Atheists claiming or setting up safe havens is playing the victim card. It is acknowledging that in the land of the free they are second class citizens.
      Not everyone wants to be the test case. Knowing how things can be in Utah, a student just might want somewhere to find like-minded individuals. Everything, and I mean everything, revolves around “the church” (defined as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). A safe place students can go just because they have their doubts, is a good thing in my opinion. Most non-believers just want to get a long in society, and don’t necessarily want to be an activist for atheism, non-theism, secular humanism or whatever they consider themselves.

      • In reply to #7 by Obi wan kolobi:

        I concede that Utah (a place I have no intention of ever visiting) might just be full enough of seriously loony toons that desperate counter-measures might well be indicated.

  2. I applaud this initiative.Not everyone is strong enough to put up with abuse.It is good for these students to also enjoy a sense of community where they are among likeminded people.

    Living as I do among Christians and knowing only 2 atheists I know the feeling of estrangement.

  3. ‘Secular safe zones’ offer campus shelter to atheist students

    I my student days, (in England) we called this the science department!

    There was also a theist zone called the Christian Union, but that only had a membership of about 20% of the students with about half of them frequently attending meetings/services. It was largely filled from the theology and languages departments.

  4. When I was at university those who struggled to fit in or were homesick or were slightly different were given refuge by the Christian Union. That included many who came from non Christian and non religious backgrounds. No other group offered that and I felt that was a shame.

  5. I have to admit my first reaction (my first reaction this isn’t what I really think) when I see articles like this is to channel my dad’s response when I would complain about being bullied: “You need to tough it out! Stand up for yourself and get your ass kicked like a man!” Actually he left off the part about getting your ass kicked but I was never much of a fighter (with fists anyway) and that was usually the inevitable result. But anyway, I’m glad these things exist and actually kind of amazed at how our thinking has progressed on the whole issue of bullying since I was a kid.

  6. Bullying, skivvying, hazing,initiations have always made my blood boil.And when such horrible practices were accepted as being ‘just life’ and something to be dealt with by the sufferer it struck me as a terrible injustice.Life is hard enough without these cruelties.I am so glad that the zeitgeist has shifted and that these practices are being looked upon with loathing. In reply to #8 by Red Dog:

    I have to admit my first reaction (my first reaction this isn’t what I really think) when I see articles like this is to channel my dad’s response when I would complain about being bullied: “You need to tough it out! Stand up for yourself and get your ass kicked like a man!” Actually he left off t…

  7. Just a quick “report from the trenches”…. My classroom and many many classrooms in my high school (not the majority but close), have stickers hanging on the windows of our doors, inside and out. They are rainbow stickers signifying that the classroom is a safe zone, free from bullies of any type. The sticker is distributed by our Gay/Straight Alliance club and is really aimed at letting kids know that they are welcome and safe in certain classrooms. I was really proud of the kids when they fought (all the way to the schoolboard) for the “right” to have the club. And even more proud of my colleagues that got right on board and display the stickers and “walk the walk”.

    I’d be glad to include this sticker as well and am going to hit the website and grab some if I can. All people should feel safe in a public school; not just certain people.

  8. I think its a good wheeze, atheism isn’t organised like religions and so some individuals just need somewhere to go and talk. University campuses are crawling with proselytising religious zombies who prey on the social isolation of other students. Its hard enough coping with social isolation issues because you’re a stranger without having to find yourself ostracised by the happy clappy brigade for not joining in their stupidity.

  9. What is nice about this is that it signals to the world and our god(s)bothering friends that they are something that requires a safe haven from. A sort of passive aggressive jab to the ribs of the bible brayers and koran caterwaulers. Which really ought to be beneath me to derive so much satisfaction from.

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