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Is “Safe” really Safe?

Recently our local Big Ten university, Northwestern, jumped into the national spotlight when its student paper, The Daily Northwestern, apologized for covering a student protest in a way the protestors found “harmful” i.e., not safe. These “harmful” acts included reporters at the paper taking pictures of the protestors and contacting them for comments. In other words the student newspaper at one of America’s top universities apologized for performing basic journalism.


This wasn’t a surprise. Northwestern administrators, following the trend on campuses across the country, have focused on creating emotionally “safe” spaces for students.


This culture encourages activism, but shields students from responsibility for their own emotional well-being. And it isn’t something that starts in college. Increasingly students arrive on college campuses expecting protection because they were steeped in it in high school, often under the rubric of “Social Emotional Learning.” Such curricula focus on “educating the whole child” beyond reading, writing and arithmetic. One thing kids don’t learn? How to be challenged by thinking that is different than their own – without exploding.


New Trier High School, for instance, has publicly committed in its strategic plan to emotional safety for its students. But if emotional safety means shielding them from ideas they kids might find challenging – or even offensive – instead of encouraging them to sharpen and expand their thinking, are we really keeping kids safe? As George Orwell reminds us in Animal Farm , “If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”



The Year in Review


Since New Trier Neighbors launched in October 2017 here is what you have made possible.  If you like what you see, please donate!

Sustained issue campaigns to inform and educate on the D39 tax levy process and Wilmette’s mandatory minimum wage/sick leave debates.

An evening with famed CNN economist (and New Trier alum) Stephen Moore, attended by nearly 100.

A screening and discussion of the critically acclaimed “How Jack Became Black” at New Trier High School, promoting diversity in racial discussions and attended by 300.

Three “Mix-n-Mingles” in Winnetka, including hosting our local village trustees and school board members, and speakers including Ted Dabrowski from Wirepoints and Bob Muzikowski of Chicago Hope Academy.

Exposing race-based hiring practices and teacher segregation at a public school in Evanston. Related media coverage appeared in The Wall Street Journal, National Review, and Crain’s Chicago Business.

Holding productive discussions with senior New Trier High school administrators on both exposing students to more intellectual diversity, and listening to students who are concerned about political bias in the classroom.

Publishing weekly newsletters keeping North Shore residents up to date on politicized “gun walkouts,” sexuality surveys in schools, and other “must-know” information that you won’t find anywhere else.

Growing our mailing list of North Shore New Trier Neighbors to over 1000!


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Thanks for coming to Nicole Neily of Speech First!

Under Nicole’s leadership, last fall Speech First won a lawsuit against the University of Michigan’s use of Bias Response Teams to investigate any student accused of “offensive speech”.  Speech First’s latest lawsuit, which it filed against Iowa State’s “bias board,” was recently highlighted in The Wall Street Journal.

Speech First is a non-profit organization fighting to protect free speech rights on college campuses. Comprised of students, parents, alumni, and concerned citizens across the country, Speech First engages the court system to fight against speech codes, bias response teams, trigger warnings, and any other tool used by higher education administrators to weaken free speech protections — and thus the educational environment — on campus.

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