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Skidmore College
Office of the President

A Message from President Conner

April 25, 2024

Dear Skidmore Community,
As we are all aware, the Middle East conflict continues to rage with unspeakable suffering and loss. This is a conflict of complexity and challenge that will require remarkable statecraft to resolve, and we continue to hope that political leaders can find a pathway toward peace for all. 

‌It is also a conflict about which many in our community hold widely varying, and intensely passionate, perspectives. We have all worked throughout this year to show respect and understanding to all, even those with whom we strongly disagree. And we have also supported the rights of everyone in our community to express their perspectives. These twin commitments — mutual respect and freedom of expression — are the foundation of a College community, and I am proud of how we have done our best to support those commitments. 

‌Recently, our campus has seen an increase in posters, chalkings, displays, and slogans. For some, this is valued political expression; for others, these are offensive and frightening messages. As I have said repeatedly this year, nearly all of this expression constitutes “contested speech” that requires interpretation, education, and understanding. At Skidmore, we do not stifle expression, except in cases of harassment, discrimination, and inciting violence. Our policies give us some guidance to follow, but policy can only help us so much — what has really sustained us this year is a concern and sympathy for others, seeking to feel how our speech might impact and even cause pain to others in our community. 

‌As we approach the end of this academic year, I call upon all of us to lead with our better angels, to show care and kindness to all, and to continue to express our beliefs with an awareness of how our words and slogans can impact those around us.              

Marc C. Conner