Student Activism Proving to Have Positive Outcomes

Student Activism Proving to Have Positive Outcomes

One of the largest protests in Washington, D.C. history took place last weekend on Saturday, March 24th. Remarkably, it was organized entirely by students, specifically those who survived last month’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The strongest messages from last Saturday’s March for Our Lives protest, such as Parkland senior Emma Gonzalez’s six minute and twenty second moment of silence, seemed to emerge from the voices of students -- the same students who recognized the privilege that has allowed their voices to be heard, when students of color threatened by gun violence are often ignored. And while the main march occurred in the nation’s capital, thousands of demonstrators took to many other streets to demand stricter gun control. All 50 states featured a March for Our Lives rally of some form.

This recent wave of student activism has also been taking place at Skidmore in a variety of forms, and it has been responded to respectfully by members of the administration. For starters, dozens of Skidmore students joined roughly 5,000 other protestors at the March for Our Lives event in Albany this past weekend. Reflecting on the experience, Sarah Jones ‘20 said “The protest seemed very well organized. There were both student speakers, as well as members of the community and some in politics, such as Paul Tonko [Congressman from New York’s 20th congressional district].”

Moreover, Jones added that she took one of the two Skidmore-designated buses to the event organized by Robin Adams, Director of Leadership Activities. According to Jones, Adams also organized a time for students to prepare posters ahead of Saturday’s event.

Recent student activism at Skidmore has extended beyond gun control. Most notably, a number of students recently launched a poster campaign calling for President Philip Glotzbach and his administration to provide an official statement regarding the presence of the KKK in Saratoga, as a month had passed without word from the President after the traumatic incident was reported. This demand was not without merit, as the President’s office typically issues a community-wide email following alarming events.

In response to students’ frustration, the President’s office described a number of ways in which it addressed the situation. These initiatives included an email distributed to students living off-campus offering temporary on-campus living arrangements for those feeling unsafe and a reiteration of condemnatory statements made in meetings with senior administrators and to reporters from The Skidmore News following the incident. While some sort of response from the administration at this point was nice, the continuation of the photo campaign on Facebook proves students still do not think a proper response was given. Ultimately, a more prompt and serious address was needed, but the President’s email does prove the power of student activism on Skidmore’s campus.    

The Parkland students have proven that student-activism can ignite national movements—and though recent events at Skidmore are not on the same scale, those students who attended the Albany rally and those who have called for action with respect to the KKK are to be commended for contributing to important conversations.

Moreover, though communication concerning the KKK incident was not handled perfectly—including by The Skidmore News itself—it was still encouraging to see action taken by the administration, as well as others such as Adams and the Leadership Activities Office ahead of the March for Our Lives protest in response to student interest. Recent responses to student-led activism show that those in positions of authority are willing to respectfully listen to concerns and, more importantly, take reasonable action, even if greater action is needed.

Photo provided by Robin Adams

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