Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
This past week we have received two deeply disturbing reports of bias incidents, both of which are summarized on the website of the Bias Response Group (BRG): http://cms.skidmore.edu/bias/upload/BRG-2012-2013.pdf. The BRG is actively investigating both reports to determine what happened, who might be responsible, and what the appropriate response(s) might be.
I will not repeat here the racist and sexist language described in these incidents, which is reprehensible and cannot be tolerated. I do encourage you, however, to take the time to review it yourself. I do that because it will take all of us working together to root out this ugliness from our community. The BRG will pursue its work vigorously, fairly, and with all due expedience; but that does not release each of us from our individual responsibility in these matters.
Skidmore College is a special place, a community that stands on a set of educational and personal values that begin by affirming the dignity and worth of each of our members. In many cases, I believe we are that kind of community. These incidents serve as painful reminders, however, that we still have considerable work to do to live up fully to those ideals. Moreover, we cannot achieve our aspiration of being a truly inclusive educational community unless we acknowledge that such moments exist and unless we find the will, both individually and collectively, to expose and reject the attitudes that give rise to such comments.
These incidents are clearly hurtful to those who are their direct targets and those individuals are, therefore, deserving of our strongest support and comfort. But such incidents also do damage to every member of our community. They tear at the bonds that hold us together, and they erode our own basic humanity. When we observe actions such as this, therefore, it is incumbent upon all of us (students and faculty, administrators and staff) to notice, to speak out, and to work actively to ensure that such incidents do not occur on our campus.
In the short term, it is my strong hope that those whose behavior prompted these reports will step forward to take responsibility for their actions and begin the process of making amends. In the long term, I hope that we can as a community live up to the words on the BRG web site: "Give More. Respect More. Skidmore." Those are words that we all need to take to heart beginning now.
Philip A. Glotzbach