Safe Spaces Day set to foster student connections

This year’s Safe Spaces Day theme will be “Meet an Ally.” Students can meet their allies on Tuesday at 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the cafeteria then 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the library.

The goal is to familiarize students in need with the faculty and student ambassadors who are willing to help them throughout their time on campus when they feel uncomfortable, according to the campus website page.

“We have a Safe Spaces program in place so that when people feel like they’re being targeted on campus, being discriminated against or feel unsafe, whatever the case is, that they know there are people they can go to,” said Anastasia Panagakos, anthropology professor who originally brought the program to CRC and one of three coordinators of the Safe Spaces program.

Meeting an ally means that students can go and meet other faculty members and student ambassadors who will “be there for you, regardless of your social background, perceived biological background or political views,” said Anthropology Professor Priscilla Laforte, who also coordinates the event.

The Safe Spaces program at Cosumnes River College is committed to providing an open and bias-free environment for students of all nationalities, political standing or sexual orientation, according to the campus website page.

Safe Spaces has been on campus for eight years, and its goal of keeping a safe learning environment has remained the same. Each year the program has a different goal to achieve.

Allies can be identified by the Safe Spaces logo either on their car or on the windows or doors of faculty members’ office windows, Panagakos said.

“It tells people that they can come in that room and get help if they needed to or just talk about a bad day or get referrals to services,” Laforte said. “That’s what that sticker means, that we are allies for everyone on campus.”

This new allies initiative is to help clarify and educate people as to what a Safe Space really is and why it is important to the college community.

“This year we’re using student ambassadors,” said History Professor Alexander Peshkoff, another one of the event coordinators.

Student Ambassadors are part of an advancement program that aims to promote accessibility to students and connective leadership between peers, according to the CRC website.

The student ambassadors are being brought in to help spread more information about the Safe Spaces program to other students on a more peer to peer level, said Peshkoff.

Since its founding, most students have heard of the term Safe Spaces but don’t really know how it applies to the campus, Laforte said. “We’re doing more events now, getting the word out and framing what we think Safe Spaces should mean.”

The program also puts on workshops that teach students “how to be respectful and know the experiences of people who might be different from them, and educate them that there are services around campus that they can go to for more help or information,” Laforte said.

If you have any questions about transfers, classes or anything at all, the allies will be there to answer them, Laforte said.

There are over 40 faculty members listed as allies on the CRC website, along with a map that shows off specific Safe Space locations, Panagakos said.

“It’s a program that says we want to create spaces for those in the larger society being persecuted so that they have a place to go to be safe,” Peshkoff said. “It’s a space where we can create real dialogue because it’s only from real dialogue and introspection that we begin to learn and really educate ourselves.”