Glotzbach Sends Mixed Message About Politics On Campus
In his formal opening address centered on diversity politics during the December faculty meeting, President Glotzbach said “I’m glad Skidmore is not located in that red region… that voted differently.” Many faculty members expressed their surprise and concern following his remarks because of the political polarization. The President skirted against the tenor of federal law that disqualifies nonprofits from political campaign activities. His remarks may have also violated Skidmore’s commitment to inclusion.
Even though his remarks appear to reference Skidmore’s position in the North East of the country and its position in New York, a state that Hillary Clinton won, the area surrounding Skidmore usually elects Republicans. Donald Trump won Saratoga county and 46 other New York counties, primarily located Upstate.
Skidmore has come into conflict with the local area due to the College’s ability to swing elections with its mostly blue student body. As previously reported, Skidmore has been gerrymandered to prevent students from voting in the New York’s 112th district. There have also been previous challenges made to Skidmore’s ability to have an on-campus polling place during state and national elections.
In addition to pitting Skidmore against the community and the Upstate region, the President’s remarks may cause a greater political divide on this campus by polarizing an otherwise non-political college and administration. Despite Skidmore’s Democrat-heavy study body and faculty, the campus has many Republican students, faculty and staff, in addition to the reintroduced Republican’s Club that The Skidmore News profiled earlier this school year.
On December 8th, The New York Times published an article about conservative students at number of universities, including Columbia University and The University of Michigan, who felt they were not respected at their schools because of their political beliefs. Some students who were interviewed remarked that “the messages from university officials, seemingly assuming that everyone on campus was upset about the election result, were particularly offensive.” Glotzbach sent a similar note to the Skidmore community.
In an email titled “Finding a Way Forward,” the President shared his post-election thoughts, though he was still abroad in China for Skidmore-related business. On a day when many noticed a unusual quiet and many professors altered or canceled classes, his statement echoed others he has written to create a sense of community in times of tragedy. He explained, “In the weeks and months ahead, it will be my top focus to help us work together across any existing divides to continue our efforts to make Skidmore more inclusive.” The President’s faculty meeting remark on satisfaction with not being in a “red region” may have undermined the sincerity of his November 9th message.