Make your punishments uniform

Posted by Brian Connor

There is an under-discussed problem at this school that the administration would like you not to think or talk about. The administration won't conduct town-hall meetings about this problem, and there will not be awareness drives to confront it. This problem is deeply rooted within the administration itself. It is the fallaciousness of our disciplinary system, which rears its ugly head to enforce a vicious double standard upon the student body. This problem has been increasingly infuriating me since my very first semester.

When I was a first-year, about two weeks into my college-career, two friends and I lit a newspaper on fire on the concrete staircase to Scribner Village and videotaped it. Several weeks later I accidentally misplaced my camera somewhere on campus while working on a documentary for my Scribner Seminar. When I went to Campus Safety, our acting lost and found, to retrieve it, I was ushered into the back of the office and began the first of a series of long discussions about my apparently "egregious" offense.

The discussions continued at the Office of Residential Life. My classmates and I were given a date to appear at the Integrity Board. We were told that our punishment would most likely come in the form of a letter of apology to the community we'd supposedly offended. Not understanding the severity of the situation, none of us prepared for the IB. Why should we? It was a childish act of vandalism at worst, a stunt borne of boredom and frustration with a cliquey social scene largely impenetrable for new students,

We sat through the humiliating IB meeting, at which we were told that our actions were "egregiously offensive" and "dangerous." After 3 hours of excruciating condemnation and assault upon our characters, we were told that we were suspended for one semester. This was about the most painful and confidence-shaking experience a new student can be subjected to. What better way is there to make new students feel unwelcome? In spite of all the cushiony rhetoric of the first-year experience program, we were now being suspended for lighting a campfire. We appealed and received 50 hours of community service in lieu of suspension.

Whatever confidence I had in the administration and our disciplinary system was shattered and has never been restored. Since that awful experience in my first semester, in which I was essentially suspended for a prank by an administration that claims to implement restorative justice, I have seen some things that just make me furious.

In my time at Skidmore, four Hockey players gang-beat another student after breaking into his house; they all finished the semester and graduated. Students who allegedly sexually assaulted their fellow students are still walking among us. Students selling pot were suspended for one semester while students who assaulted locals in downtown restaurants are defended and are likely to be welcomed back into the community. Members of a college club assailed other college's students with sexist chants, broke into their property, and are welcomed back to our campus.

There is a gaping and fundamental injustice in this community that nullifies and sullies every liberal value we claim to uphold, every discussion forum about equality, and every conversation between students about community. The inconsistency of the administration's disciplinary actions is this college's great stain.

The racial divide at Skidmore College: Practical Race and Diversity

SGA grants Treblemakers charter