- - - - - - - - - -
College unites against
has always been known for its open-mindedness, for being, as a student
recently put it, "a place where you can be accepted for who and what you
are." So when last fall the campus grappled with two possibly homophobic
incidents, the overwhelming reaction was, "Not at Skidmore!"
First came the
theft of a gay-pride flag from outside one of Scribner Villages half-dozen
student theme houses; the flag had marked the house as a safe place for people
struggling with their sexual identity. Two weeks later, a pickup truck belonging
to Brandi Collesides 01, one of the houses residents, was defaced
with human excrement and decked with toilet paper. With no suspects or motive
yet discovered, the incidents might have been "just a practical joke,"
But campus reaction
was swift. The incidents were "unacceptable regardless of motivation,"
wrote Skidmore administrators in both a campuswide e-mail message and a Skidmore
News letter signed by President Jamienne S. Studley along with the Colleges
chaplains, the director of diversity and affirmative action, and the director
of residential life. A campus forum nearly filled Gannett Auditorium, where Studley
deplored the incidents but applauded the campuss rallying against them.
Another speaker was Student Government Association President Sarah Strauss 00,
who read an SGA resolution condemning the actions and added fiercely, "I
feel so much anger at the people who did this. I hope they hear on all sides how
unacceptable their actions are."
forums highly supportive audience was like preaching to the choir, acknowledged
Patricia Trosclair, coordinator of multicultural student affairs, "but I
always say the choir needs to practice." And Dean of Student Affairs
Thomas "Pat" Oles added that effective social change can come "through
gatherings like this, when a social climate is created that will eventually touch
those who need it." Among students speaking from the audience was Eric Patridge
01, who suggested a "community chain" of paper slips that members
of the campus community could sign and link together in a public place to visibly
express their support of tolerance. Linda Jackson-Chalmers 73, a Skidmore
trustee visiting campus for a board meeting, told the group, "If any community
can overcome this, its Skidmore."
is a more tolerant place than most," says College Chaplain Kathleen
Buckley, who with the Catholic and Jewish chaplains issued a strongly worded statement
condemning the incidents. "But building an inclusive community is not a simple
or quick task." The effort to bolster that sense of community at Skidmore
continued throughout the semester, with letters to the News, signatures
gathered on a huge antibigotry poster, a series of open discussions on tolerance
and diversity that will continue into this semester, and, in Case Center one November
day, a paper chain that stretched to more than 900 links. BAM