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Skidmore College
Office of the President

Skidmore condemns violence in El Paso and Dayton

August 7, 2019

Dear Members of the Skidmore Community:

Once again, over the past weekend, senseless violence ripped through two communities — one in El Paso, Texas, and the other in Dayton, Ohio — and authorities are investigating at least one of the cases as a hate crime. The shock, sadness, and loss to those communities is clearly beyond measure, and we join others around the country in expressing our grief and outrage about what is seemingly becoming commonplace. Such violence driven by hate or other reasons has no place in any society, and we must never allow it to become normalized.

The effect of the two attacks on vulnerable and innocent people has, no doubt, created a sense of fear within and beyond those communities most directly affected. We stand with those communities and against hate, including racism. At the same time, we are grateful to and commend law enforcement agencies, who not only moved quickly to stop the attackers but work tirelessly to protect communities like ours.

In the face of what may feel like helplessness, we as a community should commit ourselves anew to understanding and respecting differences, while promoting a spirit of caring for one another. These are principal components of our values, and we truly are stronger together.

But we must look for other ways to act as well. We have already seen new calls to minimize violence and we sincerely hope that this time these calls will produce results. It has always been true that words have consequences. Accordingly, we must work tirelessly to ensure that our public discourse counters hateful rhetoric with positive speech that reflects the better angels of our nature.

As we discussed last year in our Skidmore Speaks series of campus events, this issue is fraught with challenges, but the First Amendment remains a powerful foundation of our intellectual and political freedom. On the other hand, the relatively unregulated space of social media is a national issue that must be addressed.

Informed, responsible community membership means that we each have an obligation to decide where we stand on questions of speech and firearm regulations — and to consider making our voices heard to elected officials and to our friends, family, and colleagues. As individuals, we can call upon state, local, and national leaders to redouble their efforts to bring lasting and sensible legislative change to address not only these acts of violence but also their underlying causes.

Even one attack upon innocent persons is one attack too many. The number of attacks reported across the country so far this year represents a devastating reality that cannot be ignored or treated with the same empty rhetoric we have heard before. These recent events remind us of our responsibility to participate and provide leadership within our communities and our nation.

Philip A. Glotzbach


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