Weiser defines a safe spaces as being "judgment free and open–minded" places where students can express their "unique identity and individualism without critique." To Weiser, safe spaces are about feeling physically safe, emotionally safe, psychologically safe, and a sense of support.
BU's center opened in 2008. The space distributes informational materials (i.e., info on sexual assault and eating disorders), hosts events such as women's health info sessions, and showcases feminist art. It is also home to BU's Queer Collective, Feminist Collective, and groups like Voices for Choice, the Vegetarian Society, and BU Bikes. All board members are trained by the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.
Weiser said she realized the significance of the Resource Center last year, when a group of male BU students created ratebu.com, taking photos from females' Facebook profiles and juxtaposing two at a time to be "rated."
"When the 'rate BU' thing was happening last year, a lot of females on campus were feeling harassed and intimidated," Weiser said. "BU administration wouldn't take it down and wouldn't take action against the student who created the Web site." Some students felt helpless. "They couldn't go to their school. They couldn't really go to the police for it. So they came to us." A series of meetings helped to get students' photos off of the site.
While the "big comfy couches" provide an important physical space, Weiser stresses that finding a "safe space" on campus is about more than just that room: "Its just knowing that everybody there and an open mind. You can disagree with people but do it in a way that doesn't feel threatening." These can come in the form of women's centers, feminist organizations, multi–cultural centers, and LGBT coalitions.
>> READ: "Safety in numbers: an extended list of on-campus safe spaces" by Liz Pelly <<
Weiser also urges first–year students to find their "safe space" on campus: "I spent a good two years before I found a space on campus that I really felt connected to. . . . The WRC encouraged me to develop emotionally and psychologically and intellectually. And it was a place that I came to be challenged in the most positive of ways. It opened my mind."