Letter: The problem is a lack of respect

Posted by Anonymous

After the "Food for Thought" posters, the community meetings, the teach-in hosted by the college administration and manifold articles in The Skidmore News about diversity, it is clear that the college is facing the breakdown of its attempts to create a stable, diverse environment.

Theories have come from every direction as to why the college's formula has not worked; students and faculty alike are trying to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. This writer would like to pose a theory that he has not heard yet: the current problems on campus have their root in a lack of respect and good-will overall at Skidmore.

Recall the student-led community meeting that took place as a result of the "Food for Thought" posters. If you were in the room, something would've become clear to you as you hear the students speak: everyone present had been the target of some ridicule, extreme or mild, during their college career. A discussion that focused on prejudice against Skidmore's minority groups revealed that people of all statuses have dealt with malicious jokes, slander and hateful actions at this college. This is a problem that members of every group, from minorities to the majorities, have clearly experienced.

It is definitely regrettable that the recent bias incidents and diversity problems were what it took to make this problem apparent to us. In following the college's second strategic goal, the administration has taken various steps – like diversifying the student and faculty population – to simulate our world's diversity inside the campus's borders. But what Skidmore has failed to realize is that a diverse community without the core value of respect for others (especially for individuals with different backgrounds than our own) will not succeed. Indeed, it cannot.

What the recent diversity tensions have shown us is that the college community greatly lacks moral development. There is currently no emphasis on teaching students how to be honorable, upright and respectful individuals. Though the Skidmore administration teaches multiculturalism and diversity, it has sincerely failed at providing the lessons of compassion and tolerance where are co – if not pre – requisite. Because of the college's deficiency in instilling such values, Skidmore has turned into a place which one student who attended the meeting described as "very bitter."

No community can survive if there is not respect and good-will toward one's neighbor, least of all a diverse community where we may have little in common.

To repair the situation on campus, as it is imperative that we do, I challenge the college administration and the students to push for a greater emphasis on the moral values that have recently been neglected. We, the students, must realize that even the smallest remark of arrogance, hatred or disrespect has enough power to destroy the whole college, since at some point we will have to choose between kindness and hatred. We must also remember that our personal values will eventually shape the community, and if we push to be a kinder people, then we will build a more compassionate campus.

The administration must equally uphold these lessons. It is not enough to push for academic success, diversity, informed citizenship and independence of resources, the college's current strategic goals.

If we go to a college where values of respect and benevolence toward others are not in the forefront of our education, then we've already lost.

The writer of this letter is a member of the class of 2012, and asked to remain anonymous.

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