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Mary Beard Describes University Safe Spaces As 'Dishonest'

The classicist ventures into a topic that's caused plenty of controversy.

18/04/2016 08:41
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Professor Mary Beard, 61, has spoken about so-called 'safe space' policy

Cambridge scholar Mary Beard has lambasted 'safe space' policy at universities as "fundamentally dishonest".

In a broadside to policies which aim to protect students from 'triggering' topics and themes, Prof Beard, 61, said that students need to be encouraged to confront "awkward" facts from history.

In an interview in The Sunday Times, she said: "It would be dishonest, fundamentally dishonest, to teach only Roman history and to miss out not just the rape of the Sabines but all their rapes."

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Mary Beard said that "trigger warnings" around topics of discomfort to students are "fundamentally dishonest" (file photo)

The BBC 2 historian continued: "We have to encourage students to be able to face that, even when they find they're awkward and difficult for all kinds of good reasons."

Responding to those angered by her views, Beard said last night that she remains undecided about trigger warnings.

There are many great plays which contain rapes, and the word rape now is even considered a rape. Stephen Fry

Fry told The Rubin Report: "On student campuses… There are many great plays which contain rapes, and the word rape now is even considered a rape.

"Or you can’t watch Macbeth because it’s got children being killed in it, it might trigger something when you were young that upset you once, because your uncle touched you in a nasty place, well I’m sorry.

"It’s a great shame and we’re all very sorry that your uncle touched you in that nasty place – you get some of my sympathy – but your self pity gets none of my sympathy."

The Survivors Trust, told The Huffington Post UK the comments were “cruel and indefensible,” while mental health charity Mind says it will speak to Fry in his role as the organisation’s president.

Contact details for specialist support agencies for women and men throughout the UK on The Survivors Trust website.

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