Intolerance at Skidmore

Posted by The Editorial Board

Skidmore prides itself as a community of open-minded students who are accepting of many different beliefs. This open-minded spirit is reflected in the variety of different clubs on campus that support different identities, for example:  BARE Sex Forum, Skidmore Democrats, Skidmore Pride Alliance, Asian Cultural Awareness Club, and HAYAT.

Despite this diverse list of clubs there still remains a marginalized demographic at Skidmore: the politically conservative.

Many students at Skidmore can say confidently that our campus is overwhelmingly liberal. Not only are students liberal, but a majority of faculty members also lean left, creating an environment where liberal thought governs. Although this is common for a Northeastern liberal arts college, it unintentionally undermines Skidmore's values of acceptance, which are conducive to creative thought.

Skidmore's student body is relatively political. However, whether Skidmore is politically aware of alternate political views is questionable. The most evidence supporting this belief is the nonexistence of a 'Skidmore Republicans" club.

Some may say this is because there isn't enough support for conservative beliefs at Skidmore to create one, however based on the existence of conservative classes and organizations, such as the conservative Franklin Forum, one can deduce that there is in fact a measurable conservative population at Skidmore.

Conservative students have complained about Skidmore's liberal atmosphere, saying their views are not respected or considered. As a result, the nonexistence of a Skidmore Republican club can be attributed to our campus's stigma of conservative ideas.

This stigma was seen clearly during the New York State senator's debate, which occurred last year on Oct. 17 in Zankel. Both Skidmore and Saratoga Springs community members attended the event. Despite the variety of audience members, all members of the crowd overwhelmingly favored the democratic candidate. The audience was so partisan that the crowd brazenly cheered on multiple occasions for the democratic candidate and booed and hissed the Republican candidate, despite the fact that any reaction during a televised debate is not considered decorum. The debate is a perfect example of the student body's tendency to attack conservatism. Skidmore's community is not expected to appreciate conservative ideology, perhaps not even to understand it --although as a supposed educated group, it should-- but it is expected to behave and to tolerate. The community's reactions to the senatorial debate will undoubtedly discourage future similar events, but it also further ostracized the conservative student. Skidmore does not need to become more conservative, but with half the country categorized as conservative, we do need to become more open-minded and tolerant.

For a start, Skidmore could consider a subscription to the Wall Street Journal, a newspaper often considered to share conservative views and would provide a second option to the New York Times, an arguably liberal newspaper.

Skidmore's administration nor the SGA can force the creation of a Skidmore Republican organization, but it can still take an active role in forming one, perhaps by recruiting students from the Franklin Forum to start one.

Lastly, Skidmore, the departments and the Speaker's Bureau, an appendage of the SGA, should invite more conservative speakers to the campus. The arrival of Gloria Steinem as this year's keynote speaker, although a fantastic choice and experience (if you were fortunate enough to attend), clearly exhibited Skidmore's liberal predisposition. These hypothetical conservative speakers don't have to be keynote speakers, just the occasional nightly lecturer who will provide an opportunity for conservative students to feel more welcomed, and provide a learning opportunity for those students audacious enough to expand their minds.

In a period of time where severe gridlock incapacitates our country, it is prudent to open up Skidmore to a variety of political views. Understandably, Skidmore's appeal to its students may be the like-mindedness of the community, politically and otherwise. But if we are to consider ourselves an educated student body, it's imperative that we open up to other ideas, and if nothing else, at least tolerate and accept their existence.

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