The University of Utah has a new safe space for students to let it all out. Unlike traditional safe spaces created or demanded by students of the millennial generation, the Cry Closet is exactly what it sounds like—a small closet that allows only one person at a time, as opposed to a safe space room or communal area. According to USA Today, the woodwork project constructed by senior Nemo Miller, Tony Miller, and David Meyer, was placed in the school’s library on Sunday—to mixed reactions.
The past ten years have seen a shift in emotional sensitivity across the Western Hemisphere, with certain campuses attempting to assuage anxiety and depression levels of students by offering quiet places to process their emotions. The Cry Closet, which is aimed at “stressed out students,” was created to provide a breather to those most emotionally affected by the stress and anxiety fostered by exams or other mental health issues.
“The space is meant to provide a place for students studying for finals to take a short 10-minute break,” a statement on the Cry Closet’s door reads. The rules are simple: one person at a time, 10 minutes max, knock before entering and turn the lights off when you leave. The closet is decorated with stuffed animals and a black interior.
While some students have publicly mocked the idea of anyone needing a closet to cry in, others have lauded the effort, semi-jokingly suggesting there should be a lot more of these places on school property.
Nemo Miller, meanwhile, is delighted with his project and believes it has the power to get people talking—even if only about their reactions to the piece. “One aspect of humanity that I am currently exploring is connections and missed connections through communication,” he wrote in a statement. “It’s been interesting to watch the response to this piece about human emotions, and I’m proud to see the power of art in action.”
USA Today reports that while university actually claimed the closet was an attempt at humor, it was also installed as a “work of art meant to provoke feeling, thought & conversation, which the artist has apparently done.” Whatever the motivation here might’ve been, we live in an era where, unfortunately, the simple addition of offering a space to cry might prevent someone from doing themselves or others harm. In case anyone out there needs a quiet place, the closet will stay put until May 2.