“It’s unfair and shameful that again and again we have to take time away from our education to pressure Skidmore administrators to treat us with respect”
In late July, a pro-police ‘Back the Blue’ rally took place in Saratoga Springs, NY, which is also home to Skidmore College.
A few members of the faculty at Skidmore attended this rally, and now Black Lives Matter activists on campus are demanding that they be fired.
This week, student activists held a protest.
Lucas Willard reports at WAMC News (emphasis is mine):
Skidmore Students Make Demands For Racial Justice
Students at Skidmore College rallied for racial justice on the first day of classes Monday.
Monday night’s rally in Saratoga Springs was organized by the student organization Pass the Mic. Adia Cullors, one of the demonstration’s organizers, spoke into a megaphone.
“It’s unfair and shameful that again and again we have to take time away from our education to pressure Skidmore administrators to treat us with respect,” said Cullors.
Pass the Mic prepared a list of 19 demands to college administrators.
The first on the list is to create a zero-tolerance policy toward racism, the last a dialogue with new college president Marc Conner.
The protesting students walked the short distance down North Broadway to Conner’s residence, where the demands were read aloud…
The list of demands by Pass the Mic includes the firing of faculty members who attended the Back the Blue rally.
The list of demands by Pass the Mic is posted below:
1. Skidmore must institute a zero-tolerance policy toward racism among faculty, staff, students and administrators.
2. Students must be given full access to all Campus Safety officers’ background records (including police complaints of those who are formerly officers), and an accessible database of all complaints against current and previous Skidmore officers must be created and made public.
3. The immediate firing of Mark Vinci, David Peterson, and Andrea Peterson.
4. Skidmore must institute mandatory and reoccurring anti-racist training for all professors and students.
5. Skidmore must make all of its investments public.
6. Skidmore must make all of its donations public.
7. Skidmore must reject all donations from the Koch brothers and denounce the racist and oppressive nature of the Charles Koch Foundation and its ties.
8. Skidmore must allocate a significant number of resources and funds back into the underserved Capital Region communities including expanding faculty and student volunteering and financial donations.
9. Skidmore must create a comprehensive safety plan for all BIPOC students in Saratoga, especially students living and quarantining and living off campus.
10. Skidmore must acknowledge that it is built on and benefits from the stolen land of the Haudenosaunee, Mohawk, and Mohican people.
11. Skidmore must also make a comprehensive plan to pay reparations through labor and finances to these indigenous nations.
12. Skidmore must pledge to ban all police presence from campus including as responses to disputes and for large-scale public events.
13. Skidmore must allocate increased funds and institutional support for the Black Studies department and for the creation of other departments and courses focused on the study of African history and the African diaspora.
14. Skidmore must immediately fill the positions of the OSDP office & Social Justice Center.
15. Skidmore must make institutional practices more transparent and accessible to students.
16. Skidmore must make all bias reports filed against professors/faculty public and accessible while concealing the identity of the person who filed.
17. Skidmore must ask for and receive permission from BIPOC students before using their image in any promotional materials.
18. Skidmore must provide safe on-campus housing at no additional charge to students living with/near their sexual abusers.
19. President Conner must hold an address/dialogue that is open and accessible to the entire student body, during which all students have the ability to speak and ask questions without limitation.
You can watch a video from the protest below:
Tinashe Gwakuka, a Skidmore College student: “Whether your ancestors came on the slave ships from Africa or the Caribbean, whether you came here on a flight or on a bus as an immigrant, they say we came on different ships, but we’re in the same boats now.” pic.twitter.com/J05jxbwYEX
— Bethany Bump (@bethanybump) June 7, 2020
On July 31, Skidmore College President Marc C. Conner released this statement:
Dear Skidmore Community,
As many of you are likely aware, two events in downtown Saratoga Springs on Thursday night, a Back the Blue rally and a Black Lives Matter counter-protest, resulted in a police response and reported arrests that drew news media and social media attention. The reports include concerns about the scale of the police response and the use of force against the counter-protesters.
We are in conversation with Saratoga Springs city leadership to learn more about the events and how we can support our entire community. Skidmore College is steadfast in our support for peaceful gathering, peaceful protest, the right to hold and express different views, and the safety of all members of our community. In these challenging times, we all need to work in partnership to preserve these fundamental principles while pursuing fair and just treatment of all members of our community.
Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is firm and we will continue to articulate and uphold those values. In addition, I have been very clear about my and the College’s commitment to the principle that Black Lives Matter. This is consistent with our core values as a higher education institution, and we will continue to assert that commitment in all our actions.
Productive and open discussions and initiatives between the city and the College are already in motion. Our recently announced Initiative on Racial Justice emphasizes that “this must be deeply collaborative work, involving all constituencies of the College, including students, staff, faculty and members of the Saratoga Springs community as key partners.” We will continue to engage with community leaders on this important work to seek ever-increasing levels of justice and inclusivity in our communities.
Emily Chase of the student newspaper, The Skidmore News reports:
The vague wording of President Conner’s recent emails concerning racial injustice at Skidmore and within the Saratoga community has had many students worried and demanding that it not stand in place of a facilitated discussion with his student body.
To this point, the crowd marched from Palamountain Hall to the Scribner House on North Broadway, which is where President Conner currently lives. Along the way, chants such as “No Justice, No Peace!” and “Say his name, George Floyd!” could be heard across campus.
Once outside the Scribner House, Pass the Mic leaders formally delivered their list of demands to President Conner. Then, they opened up the space and invited BIPOC students to voice their feelings about their experiences of racism on Skidmore’s campus.
At this time, it’s not clear if the school will act upon the student demands to fire any faculty members.
Featured image via Twitter video.DONATE
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