Snowflake Watch: Safe words for safe spaces

Citizens have 911. Employees have the EEOC. Distressed sailors have the Coast Guard.

But what do America’s college students have? Where can they turn when they find themselves outside campus “safe spaces” and suffering a “microaggression”?

Fortunately, the University of Arizona has an answer. It recently distributed a 20-page booklet suggesting to faculty that when a student is victimized by a microaggression the appropriate response should be saying “ouch.” And the correct response for the offender should be saying “oops,” according to the guide.


“If a student feels hurt or offended by another student’s comment, the hurt student can say ‘ouch.’ In acknowledgement, the student who made the hurtful comment says “oops.” If necessary, there can be further dialogue about this exchange.”

The guide was authored by Jesus Treviño, vice provost of the big taxpayer-funded university, whose salary reportedly is $214,000 per year.

For those unfamiliar with the apparently epidemic scale of microaggression and thus not able to spot such offenses, the booklet offers a definition: Microaggressions are “the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”

The University of Arizona isn’t the first to suggest the “ouch”/”oops” protocol. Iowa State University, among others, has also urged a similar approach.