LYNNFIELD, MA—In an effort to provide sanctuary for Lynnfield College students exposed to perspectives different from their own, a new campus safe space was dedicated Wednesday in honor of Alexis Stigmore, a 2009 graduate who felt kind of weird in class one time.
Addressing students at the dedication ceremony, parents Arnold and Cassie Stigmore noted that while the college had adequate facilities to assist victims of discrimination, abuse, and post-traumatic stress, it had until now offered no comparable safe space for students, like their beloved daughter, who encounter an academic viewpoint that gives them an uncomfortable feeling.
“When our Alexis felt weird after hearing someone discuss an idea that did not conform to her personally held beliefs, she had no place to turn,” said Arnold Stigmore, standing outside the $2 million space that reportedly features soothing music, neutral-colored walls, oversized floor cushions, fun board games, and a variety of snacks. “God forbid any of you, in your years at this institution, are ever confronted with an opinion you do not share. But if you are, you will have a refuge on this campus.”
“I’ll never forget the morning my daughter called and told me in a trembling voice, ‘Mom, my professor said some stuff today I didn’t like.’”
“If unfamiliar thoughts are ever provoked in your mind, or in the mind of someone you know, you can come to this place and feel safe again,” he added.
As they have done often over the years, the Stigmores spoke openly about the time their daughter attended a class in which her political science professor “completely ambushed” her with standard course material that did not fit comfortably within her world outlook. Feeling unsettled, the college student reportedly had no way of coping with the challenging position that did not require her to consider the opinion, analyze its shortcomings, and think of possible counterarguments.
Alexis, then a dean’s-list student in her junior year, described spending 40 harrowing minutes of class in a distressed state, forced to look at the world through the eyes of a set of people she disagreed with.
“I’ll never forget the morning my daughter called and told me in a trembling voice, ‘Mom, my professor said some stuff today I didn’t like,’” recounted an emotional Cassie Stigmore, who also remarked that Alexis was left further traumatized upon looking at the course syllabus and finding it contained a book she did not want to read because it was written by an author whose politics she opposed. “As a parent, I’ll always wish I could have been there for her in that lecture hall, protecting her from those unwelcome concepts.”
After pausing to regain her composure, she continued, “If this safe space had been here then, my Alexis would have been able to surround herself immediately with people who would have reiterated and reinforced all the views she had when we first sent her to college—but sadly, it wasn’t, and she was left to deal with that new, unwanted idea on her own.”
Lynnfield president Dr. Timothy Crowley praised the Stigmores for their generous contribution and for raising awareness of an important issue. Since the family went public with Alexis’ story, a number of students have come forward saying they too have been exposed to alternative views on academic subjects, including several who Crowley applauded for their recent successful initiative to prevent a mainstream political figure from participating in a debate on campus out of concern that the exchange of ideas might make some people feel unsafe.
As he toured the new facility and examined a plaque commemorating Alexis Stigmore’s courage in the face of personal tragedy, Lynnfield class of 2017 member Jerrod Bryant told reporters he would be sure to use the space after attending his next Contemporary Civilization seminar, a course he is required to take even though it covers areas of study he personally disapproves of and believes should not exist..
“As soon as I stepped foot in this place, I knew I would never feel weird here,” Bryant said. “Every college should have a space like this, and thanks to caring parents like the Stigmores, we have one here for our community. It might be too late for Alexis, but it’s not too late for the rest of us.”
Sources confirmed a separate donation has also been made to provide a safe space and counseling services for straight white men at the college who won’t shut the fuck up about how they’re the real victims on campus these days.