Skidmore and Saratoga community members to partake in "A Walk of Solidarity": The walk will be a peaceful demonstration addressing the social climate in downtown Saratoga.

Posted by Julia Leef

The Center for Sex and Gender Relations is organizing a peaceful demonstration at 3 p.m. on April 13 in a "Walk of Solidarity" from campus to downtown Saratoga Springs, uniting college and community members in response to concerns about the social climate in Saratoga.

The walk will begin on campus at the bus stop outside of Case Center. Demonstrators will walk down Van Dam Street and then Broadway Avenue to their final destination on Caroline Street, where participants will discuss their downtown experiences and hopes for better relations in the future. After the discussion, participants will return to the College.

"Our goal in this event is to create solidarity for the Skidmore community and residents of Saratoga Springs who experience harassment, violence or discomfort downtown," peer advocates for the Center for Sex and Gender Relations said in an email to the student body. "This includes, but is not limited to, verbal harassment due to racial, sexual or gender identity, unwanted sexual advances, fear of being drugged, physical confrontations and assault, 'drive-by' harassment and general discomfort downtown."

The main organizers of the event are peer advocates Alexis Curry '12, Caleb Stoeffler '12 and Rachael Bowen '14, who collaborated to develop the event's mission statement and specific route of action.

The peer advocates have conducted on campus outreach to organizations including the Student Government Association and the Office of Student Diversity Programs, as well as off campus with various Saratoga area press outlets, including The Saratogianand the local media.

In turn, the Center for Sex and Gender Relations has received interest from Bare and United Minds, the Bias Response Group, Dean of Student Affairs Rochelle Calhoun and Mariel Martin, director of Student Diversity Programs.

According to the three peer advocates, the demonstration is an independent action resulting from feelings expressed by several members of the College community. Members also said most of the bad experiences students spoke about happened in downtown Saratoga Springs, rather than in specific establishments.

Approximately 30 to 50 participants will attend the event, which was planned from the beginning of the semester. The walk will also include "mic-checks," in which a person reads a statement and the group repeats it back to maintain anonymity and solidarity without the use of a megaphone or other amplification device.

"We are looking to raise awareness about these issues downtown by educating the Saratoga community about specific incidences of concern as well as the overarching societal issues that contribute to this discomfort," Curry said. "We want to create active communication within these communities with the intent of creating lasting and meaningful solutions to these issues."

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