Fall semester update from President Conner
Dear Skidmore Community,
On Monday of this week we saw a student protest against racism at Skidmore that raised many concerns, some of which were conveyed on placards left at my office that I have left for all to see. Many painful, personal experiences were shared, and I want the students who shared those perspectives to know that we hear them and that we are committed to addressing both the subtle and the overt forms of racism that persist in every part of the American project.
To create the community of trust that is the real goal of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work, we are all tasked to listen and respond to one another with kindness, honesty and respect. I am particularly grateful to our students for conducting the protest with the utmost attention to the health and safety of our community, carefully adhering to COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
As I stated on my first day as president on July 1 and reiterated in my Convocation speech on Sunday, I am committed to creating tangible goals that will improve diversity, equality and inclusiveness at Skidmore. Next Tuesday, Sept. 1, we will formally roll out the Racial Justice Initiative, a year-long series of projects that seek to address the realities of racial injustice locally, nationally and globally. Our goal is to build upon the work that has been done in the past, pursue new avenues and address today’s concerns, with room to identify and tackle emerging issues as we move forward. This is our highest strategic priority as a college, and I invite every member of our community to join and support this effort.
With the fall semester now underway and many of our classes taking place on campus, I am pleased to report that the masking by everyone on campus has been excellent and the weekly COVID-19 testing of all students and employees living and working on campus is going smoothly, with two positives from a total of 2,627 tests last week. However, we must not let our guard down. How each and every one of us responds to this call will determine how the next 11 weeks go for our entire community, so please make heroic decisions to take care of yourself and each other.
Any students, staff and faculty who are already on campus are invited to sign up for a Safe Skidmore Ambassador shift and volunteer to thank everyone you see wearing a mask and offer friendly reminders to social distance. Our work here will complement masking efforts in Saratoga Springs, a very important part of our larger community where many of us live, work and shop.
As I shared with the more than 350 faculty and staff who attended a virtual community meeting last week, I am deeply appreciative of all the hard work it took to get to this point, and we will continue to work for the fall experience we all want to see succeed. I thank you all for how seriously you are taking the College’s health and safety protocol in this first week of the fall semester. Let’s keep doing our best for each other!
Marc C. Conner