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Rape/Abduction Suspect Arrested Following Campus Lockdown

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
This fuck.

Shane Harding, 25, was arrested Wednesday morning following charges of rape and abduction after being released from state prison in January. What a fuck. (The Times Union)

At approximately 8:30am this morning–in the midst of a three-hour campus lockdown–Shane Harding, 25, was arrested while on campus and put into custody by state authorities. The arrest marked the resolution of a manhunt following abduction and rape charges against Harding in Massachusetts on Tuesday.

Students awake at the ungodly hour of 7:04 were alerted of Harding’s presence on campus via the following email/text from the emergency alert system:

A Skidmore emergency exists  lock yourself in a room and keep quiet. Police are looking for a male suspect wanted for rape, suspect is armed. Suspect is a white male 25 years old, 5.9 170 lbs blond hair, wearing blue jeans, green long sleeve shirt. Stay in your rooms and report anything suspicious to Campus Safety. More information to follow. The college is closed until further notice.

What followed was a series of 13 alerts charting the investigation of the campus intrusion by both campus safety and State Police officials, which climaxed with the 8:14am alert that the suspect had been arrested and put into custody–and the 9:57am alert that classes would resume at 10:15am. At 10:12am, an alert was sent out in which Campus Safety “request[ed] that everyone keep an eye out for suspicious items that may be evidence,” whatever the fuck that could mean.

Thank God.

Thank God.

A more detailed account of Harding’s arrest/crime history can be read here.

Of course the question on everyone’s (see: or maybe just my) mind is what the fuck brought this creep to Saratoga Springs (let alone Skidmore College) from North Greenbush, but maybe that’s just reading into things too much and trying to find order and meaning where there lies none.

Either way, regardless of how ratchet our emergency alert system can be/look at times, the college, campus safety, and local/state authorities deserve a shout-out for quickly responding to the situation–and keeping anyone who was unfortunate enough to be awake at this time updated on what was going on.

Dean Calhoun Addresses Robert Gardner’s Arrest

Monday, August 18th, 2014

After we emailed her yesterday asking for a comment on the recent arrest (and alleged firing) of Campus Safety Officer Robert Gardner, Dean of Students Rochelle Calhoun has responded and indicated that we will be hearing from President Glotzbach at some point this week. You can find her full response below. Thanks to anyone who has taken the time to get in contact with Dean Calhoun or any other college official on the whole affair.

Dear Skidmore Unofficial,

Thank you for your e-mail and the opportunity to address your concerns.

The College did address the incident involving a former employee immediately.  What we did not do was to immediately inform the Skidmore community that we had addressed the incident as it related to our campus.  What I want you to know is that the College takes issues of sexual and gender-based misconduct very seriously.  It is the seriousness with which we view this issue that has shaped our planned response.  We have been working on a comprehensive response to the community.  Our response to this important issue includes:

  • a clear message from the President about our institutional values and expectations
  • a new website that brings together information about our  revised policies and resources (both on-and off-campus)
  • an announcement of a series of open forums where we can come together as a community to discuss issues of sexual and gender-based misconduct and our shared community values
  • an update to the community about the incident this summer

You can anticipate receiving a letter from President Phil Glotzbach this week. We have been working diligently for some weeks now to be ready to get a message out to our community before the beginning of the new academic year.  Once you receive the letter, please don’t hesitate to be in touch with any suggestions or concerns.

I appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns.  I hope that we will continue to be engaged together in this important dialogue.

All the best,

W. Rochelle Calhoun
Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs

Op-Ed: Why It Matters That We’ve Still Heard Nothing About the Arrest of Campus Safety Officer Robert Gardner

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Campus Safety Officer Robert Gardner was arrested for sexual assault in June, and the college still hasn’t released an official statement, or anything even closely resembling one. (If this is the first you’re hearing about all this, well, Happy Wednesday, I guess.) Though there’s no official information about the arrest/conviction, (though I’ve heard from reliable Skidmore students that Gardner has been fired) I felt something of an obligation to share some thoughts that I know are shared by many Skidmore students.

Now, this didn’t happen at Skidmore. This happened off-campus, and the alleged victim is not a Skidmore student. But it’s a college issue nonetheless. Think about if a professor had his or her name attached to a sex scandal to any degree. Of course it should (and hopefully would) be addressed, because it has to do with the college and those are affiliated with it to any degree. The same applies here.

I also understand how complex, difficult, and delicate a matter it must be for the powers-that-be to address such an issue. There’s a lot at stake, especially with the academic year beginning and new students arriving, so having this in the spotlight can’t be something that the college is dying to have on their hands. I’d also imagine that the fact that this happened in the greater Saratoga area (and is presumably being handled by the Saratoga Police Department) must also complicate the relation of information for the college.

Also, I’m not trying to imply that Gardner should never have been hired in the first place (or even that he shouldn’t have remained employed by the college for 35 years), because I know nothing about him and his record as an employee. In general, I try to assume the best in people, and I really don’t have the background information to point fingers about things I know so little about. (Though, if it turns out that this isn’t the first time his name has been brought up in something like this, then I would definitely have a different opinion.)

Lastly, I do believe that me being a Skidmore student does not guarantee me the right to know everything about all things related to this campus. I saw many people get very indignant about not hearing anything about Gardner’s arrest just the day after it happened, but I was a little more hesitant to get upset. I wanted to give the administration the benefit of the doubt that they’d say something soon.

But they didn’t. And they haven’t.

Click to continue »

Skidmore Campus Safety Officer Faces Sex Abuse Charges

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

Robert Gardner, a 35 year campus safety officer, has been arrested and charged with sexual abuse and unlawful surveillance of a 28-year-old woman and Saratoga resident. Sources report (and some in slightly graphic detail, so a trigger warning might be in order) that the incident happened Wednesday afternoon at the victim’s residence on Lincoln Ave after Gardner, 62, drove her back home Saratoga Lake, where “Gardner and [she] had been drinking most of the day” (WYNT.com). Gardner, 62, was released on his own recognizance by City Court Judge Jeffrey Wait, and has been suspended by the College without pay. Sources report he is facing up to 7 years in prison.

Campu Safety Officer Robert Gardner, Charged With Sexual Abuse and Unlawful Surveillance

Campus Safety Officer Robert Gardner, Charged With Sexual Abuse and Unlawful Surveillance

Naturally, one is left to wonder why students have had yet to be notified, and perhaps the optimistic answer to this question is that the college will (and had planned to) do so in the very, very near future. Still, time will tell.

Of course, the question then becomes What will the college do next? Even though this terrible violation didn’t take place on the Skidmore campus or involve a Skidmore student, this is definitely a Skidmore issue. It reflects poorly on Campus Safety to students, parents, and potential applicants. And, since the perpetrator is a representative of the Skidmore community–and, perhaps worse, someone who is supposed to serve as a symbol of safety and protection from such crimes–it reflects poorly on Skidmore in general.

Though some action has been taken in Gardner’s suspension without pay, how the college chooses to address this situation–one that is, sadly, merely one in a long line of events concerning safety and sexual assault on college campuses–will no doubt be key in determining how people perceive Skidmore and its stance on such matters. Here’s hoping they make the right decision. And here’s hoping they’ll be kept accountable for it.