On Saturday, April 30, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered the commencement address at the University of Michigan. He took the opportunity to denounce campus safe spaces as feeble efforts to safeguard students against opinions different from their own. He was not, shall we say, playing to his audience.

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Yahoo News reports that the graduating class took umbrage with these remarks. As Bloomberg spoke, “[he] was booed loudly.” However, he was not to be deterred:

“‘The whole purpose of college is to learn how to deal with difficult situations — not run away from them,’ Bloomberg told the school’s graduating class. ‘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.’

Bloomberg—who once banned the sale of large sugar-sweetened drinks in New York City in an effort to combat obesity—blasted school officials for bowing to public pressure to ‘shield’ students from ‘uncomfortable’ ideas.

‘We can’t do this, and we shouldn’t try — not in politics or in the workplace,’ the billionaire said. ‘In the global economy, and in a democratic society, an open mind is the most valuable asset you can possess.’”

Props to the emphasis on an open mind — but there seems to be a great deal over hand-wringing over the dreaded “safe space” lately without much consideration for what it might actually mean to cultivate one. The fact that it has been deemed the enemy of open-mindedness is certainly concerning in and of itself.


Image via Getty.