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Skidmore College

Statement on the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

October 27, 2018

Dear Members of the Skidmore Community:

Our hearts go out to those directly affected by the horrific shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh. We express our heartfelt sympathy to the victims of this attack and express our solidarity with all members of the Jewish community within the Skidmore family, in the United States, and internationally.

No doubt more details of this event and the perpetrator will emerge in the coming days. But from current reports, it seems clear that this attack was motivated by anti-Semitic hatred associated with the kind of divisive rhetoric that appears to have fueled an increasing number of incidents across our nation in recent weeks and months. There should be no place for this kind of hatred, or any kind of hatred directed against any group based on its identity or religion.

This most recent attack comes on the heels of a series of mailings of explosive devices addressed to prominent political figures and the news media in recent days. The alleged perpetrator of these incidents seems to have been motivated by political animus, though again it is early in the investigation, and more information no doubt will surface in due course. Still, we have seen all too many instances in recent months and years of political division stoked by rhetoric that makes some target group collectively the source of evil and threat.

As an educational community dedicated to the ideals of liberal learning – especially, respect for all persons and affirmation of the “unalienable rights” we all share as human beings – we condemn these violent events. Concurrently, we must condemn the divisive rhetoric that provides a background against which such acts of violence can more easily occur. This is not a call for censorship; it is a call for more speech in the form of constructive engagement that affirms the values that unite us as a nation and people around the world. 

Closer to home, we need to continue to ask how we, as a community, can model the kind of tolerance that represents the antithesis of these acts of violence that stand upon intolerance. We must continue to affirm our respect for all members of the Skidmore community and actively seek ways of interacting with one another that affirm our basic values. This is especially true in cases when we disagree with one another, and especially when we vigorously interrogate those disagreements.

For any community members who need support, Counseling Services may be reached at 518-580-5555. As a reminder, all employees may utilize the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which may be reached at 518-793-9768. Others will be sending additional communications about support services.

Our nation is suffering in so many ways from continuing social injustice, economic inequality, identity-based bigotry, and the politics of division. In the face of these challenges, all colleges and universities have a responsibility to lead the way to a better civic order.

Unfortunately, institutions of higher education are themselves under attack from those who see us as intolerant and incapable of resolving even our internal disagreements in a reasonable manner. Accordingly, it is up to us, as an educational community, to conduct our affairs in ways that show the error of these criticisms and affirm the efficacy of the values we profess. Let us redouble our shared efforts to do so.

Philip A. Glotzbach

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