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Summer 2001

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Contents

Feature

Observations

On Campus

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People

Alumni and Development News

Class Notes

 

 
 

Letters

Valuing difference
“Profaned” is right
God's guests
Family connections

Valuing difference

In response to the spring Scope’s letters concerning Skidmore’s gay chaplain and “On Being Brown at Skidmore,” I have to loudly applaud and commend my alma mater for being open and honest about the realities of the world we live in. In a country that embraces so many different cultures, religions, sexual orientations, ethics, morals, languages, and skin colors, it is of the utmost importance to at least accept that there are these differences.

Thank you to Skidmore and Chaplain Kathleen Buckley for choosing to be leaders and role models in a mature, healthy manner. And thank you to Juleyka Lantigua ’96 for frankly discussing her experience of being “brown” in what is a largely white sea of faces.

Being different is never easy. It is the courage to continue being who and what you are that enriches all of us if we let it.

Lisa Bogart ’85
Montclair, N.J
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I was heartened to read of the wonderful work being done by the chaplain’s office. I was equally disappointed to read the alumni letters that followed.

It’s naive to think that gay issues weren’t present among students, faculty, and the Saratoga community when I was there, but sadly they weren’t talked about openly—which I’m sure readers would agree is far healthier than maintaining repressive “closets.”

Recent studies indicate a higher suicide rate among gay adolescents than among the population as a whole. (Adolescents often have limited capacity to deal emotionally and intellectually with issues of sexual orientation, and another factor is bullying in schools.) Our society owes it to our children to provide institutions that ensure physically and emotionally safe environments; institutionalizing discrimination is not conducive to such an environment.

I applaud the fine work of the chaplain’s office and Skidmore for having the courage to support it.

P. S. I couldn’t help but giggle when I read later that Skidmore’s trustees unanimously passed a domestic-partners benefits package for employees. Bravo! And welcome to the twenty-first century.

Rebecca Maestri ’79
Alexandria, Va.

I applaud Skidmore and its chaplain. The most important principle I learned in Skidmore’s social work program, under professors Peg Tacardon and Pat Oles, was to be open to all. I may not agree with someone’s lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean I should pass judgment on them. (I’m not well-versed in the Bible, but I distinctly recall something about the judgment of others being an activity for God alone.)

I think the college is setting a wonderful example. Perhaps if we all took the time to look at individual character rather than making assumptions based on sexual preference, race, religion, nationality, etc., a lot of very ugly world situations would be avoided.

Diana Jessop Jahries ’87
Ceyrat, France

I was disappointed to see the two letters that condemned the appointment of the college chaplain on the basis of her sexual orientation.

Though both writers lamented a decline in Skidmore’s values, their fear is misplaced. By its actions, Skidmore has exemplified the values of a liberal arts education: namely, open-mindedness, tolerance, and humanity.

Skidmore College provides an atmosphere that fosters the study of values. At the same time it does not tell people what to believe, nor should it. People who want to have their so-called values dictated to them (or to others) should look elsewhere than Skidmore for an education.

Eric Rath ’89
Lawrence, Kans.

“Profaned” is right

What an apt title—“Principles Profaned”—to introduce the letters opposing Skidmore’s hiring of a practicing lesbian as college chaplain. I did not read the article on the chaplain; however, my limited knowledge of Judeo-Christian principles tells me that an openly gay person has about as much business being a chaplain as Sinead O’Connor has being the pope. Based on Skidmore’s hiring practices, I propose some other positions and appropriate people to fill them:

  • Dean of multicultural affairs: David Duke
  • Chair of women’s studies: Bill Clinton (watch out for those “private tutoring” sessions)
  • Head of security: Robert Blake
  • Head of health services: Jack Kevorkian
  • Public speaking professor: Al Gore
  • Chair of the art department: Rudolph Giuliani
  • Chair of the English department: (who can resist picking on the poor fellow?) George W. Bush

Wendell Arnold ’96
Newark, Calif.

God's guests

The author Madeleine L’Engle can speak more eloquently than I to the two alumnae who would exclude a gay or lesbian chaplain from the Judeo-Christian tradition—a tradition, as I understand it, whose central message is love and acceptance of all God’s children. L’Engle writes: “It’s God’s table. Who gave us the right to check the guest list?”

Robert Seddig, P ’94
Meadville, Pa.

Family connections

Even though I am not a Skidmore alumna, I read Scope regularly. Imagine my surprise when I discovered “Connections,” a remembrance of Barbi Hume ’67, in the spring issue. Barbi was my sister!

The memories that Beverly Harrison Miller ’67 shared in that article were heart-warming for all our family. And they were an affirmation that Barbi’s life was special, influenced by many friends and activities at Skidmore, and that my parents were wise and foresighted to plan for continuing to share her effervescent spirit with others, even years later. My children never knew their aunt, but they were touched by reading Beverly’s writing.

Beverly Hume Selmeski
Afton, Tenn.

 


© 2001 Skidmore College