Sexual Assault

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SGA to Present ‘It’s Happening Here’ Lecture Series

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

Poster design by Dipesh KC.

This Wednesday and Friday, the It’s Happening Here campaign will be holding a two-part lecture series to “raise awareness about how students, faculty and staff and join together to combat sexual and gender-based misconduct at Skidmore.”

On Wednesday, April 15th at 6:30pm in Davis, Tim Mousseau will be giving a lecture entitled “Retaking Our Story: Reframing the Sexual Assault Conversation.” A Sexual assault survivor, Mousseau is an active voice on college campuses in educating students about leadership and empowering them to take a stand against sexual assault. Be sure and check him out on Twitter.

On Friday, April 17th at 3:30pm in Davis, Liz Seccuro will be giving a lecture entitled “Social Media & Sexual Violence: How Technology Helps & Harms Students & Campuses.” Seccuro is a victim’s rights advocate and author of the memoir Crash Into Me: A Survivor’s Search for Justice. You can find her on Twitter, as well as her website.

All these events seem both interesting and incredibly relevant to the current landscape of social activism in fighting sexual and gender-based misconduct, so we highly suggest you attend one (or both) of the lectures and support the great work SGA and many members of the community are doing.

Alumni Create Online Petition to Change Policy on Readmission

Friday, March 20th, 2015
You can't ignore the post-it's.

You can’t ignore the Post-it’s.

A group of Skidmore alumni have started an online petition on Change.org to send a message to the administration that “Skidmore College must change its policy on readmittance of those found to have committed sexual assault.” They go on to say that “[w]here the College has made a finding that a student has committed sexual assault, the penalty should be expulsion.” Click to continue »

Addison Bennett and Soraya Attia Write Open Letter on Sexual Misconduct

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Thursday evening, the Skidmore community received the the following email sent on behalf of SGA President Addison Bennett ’16 and Senior Class President Soraya Attia ’15:

Dear Friends, Peers, Classmates, and all Skidmore Community Members,

As members of this community, we are writing in support of the recent efforts to bring attention to sexual and gender-based misconduct (SGBM) at Skidmore. This is an issue we have been working as SGA to address since the start of the academic year. Through the It’s Happening Here campaign and our work with the Advisory Council on SGBM, we have made strides to effect concrete policy changes that prioritize student safety and promote a zero-tolerance environment. Reina Kiefer’s readmission hearing protest on March 13 is one of the many examples of activism we have been calling for this year. We urge students to attend this peaceful protest to show our Student Body’s support for survivors across our campus. SGBM happens far too often at Skidmore and, as students, we must stand up together and work to prevent it.

It is time to become the zero-tolerance campus we wish to be. When a community member commits a sexual crime, we should not welcome that person on our campus. SGA has been working with the Advisory Council, the Vice President/Dean of Student Affairs, and other parties to make significant revisions to the SGBM policy, including:

  1. Changing sanction language to state that the College expects the SGBM Hearing Board to expel students found in violation in all cases of SGBM.
  2. When the Board does not choose expulsion, it must justify its decision in a written rationale for the case’s official record, which would be available to both parties.
  3. Expanding definitions of SGBM to include types of misconduct Skidmore does not currently account for, such as emotional and financial abuse.

Thanks to the work of the many student leaders and the responsiveness of the Advisory Council to our serious recommendations, we are proud to announce that changes along these lines and more are likely to be added to the official policy very soon.

​We know the numbers. Too many students of all gender identities experience SGBM while at college. Furthermore, the statistics available to us at this moment suggest that offenders will take advantage of other individuals more than once. According to Jed Rubenfeld in his 2014 New York Times article, Mishandling Rape, “Research suggests that more than 90 percent of campus rapes are committed by a relatively small percentage of college men — possibly as few as 4 percent — who rape repeatedly, averaging six victims each. Yet these serial rapists overwhelmingly remain at large, escaping serious punishment.” At the start of this year, we knew we needed to work toward practices that acknowledge this reality and adequately sanction all sexual offenders.

We are proud to say that progress has already been made so that students will not have to go through what Reina is going through moving forward.  However, at this moment, there are wrongs that must be corrected if Skidmore truly does hold its community values to a high standard. We are here to represent and stand by each and every student on this campus and to advocate for what is right.

​As student leaders — but most importantly, as Skidmore students — who have taken on this task of advocating for changes to our policy and culture, we have been heartbroken and humbled to hear stories from our friends and peers who have experienced SGBM at Skidmore. Whatever our policies may state, in the very real experiences of these innocent survivors, Skidmore does not always appear to prioritize their needs over those of the individuals found in violation.

To Hearing Board administrators and faculty: We implore you to remember the voice of the student body and the changes we have been advocating. Do not allow rapists to be a part of our community.

To the students: We urge you to take notice of this issue, educate yourself, and take steps to establish yourself as our ally against SGBM. We look forward to changes not only to our policy, but also to our culture, and we need your commitment to achieve that end.

To survivors: We admire your strength, and we offer you our advocacy as peers and friends. Please know that you have the support of an overwhelming majority of students and their representatives through SGA. We respect the difficult burden that you must bear, and we hope that the increased attention drawn to this issue will serve to combat without causing further harm.

We hope that our friends, peers, and classmates become our allies in setting Skidmore’s community standards on sexual and gender-based misconduct to a level as high we believe they should be.

Sincerely,

Soraya and Addison

Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Open Forum (11/12)

Sunday, November 9th, 2014
Go.

You should go.

This Wednesday (11/12) in Gannett, the Advisory Council on Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct will hosting an open forum on the college’s new Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct policy (which can be read here) from 7:30 to 9:00pm. The Advisory Council is looking for student input on any concerns, suggestions, or other thoughts on the policy–or simply on how to address and prevent sexual and gender-based misconduct at Skidmore.

Come by for some of it. Come by for all of it. Just come by, because this applies to all of us.

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.

President Glotzbach Releases Official Statement on Campus Safety Officer’s Arrest & New Sexual Misconduct Prevention Initiatives

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Following the arrest of campus safety officer Robert Gardner on charges of sexual misconduct back in late June, President Phillip Glotzbach has sent out a series of emails regarding the incident. What with this being a concern for many alumni, parents, and others not presently on the student email list, the official statement on Gardner’s arrest can be read below.

To Members of the Skidmore Community:

Earlier today, I announced a number of new steps we are taking to expand our response to the issue of gender-based and sexual misconduct. This issue afflicts not only higher education but also the larger communities in which we live, and we will continue to do all that we can to ensure the safety of every member of our community.

Given the heightened sense of concern regarding this issue, I believe it important to update you on an incident that occurred earlier this summer. We were dismayed to learn that a member of our Campus Safety staff was arrested for an alleged sexual abuse. He was off-duty at the time, the events in question occurred off campus, and the other person was unrelated to the College. The employee was immediately suspended, banned from campus, and no longer works at the College.

It is our usual practice not to comment on individual personnel matters; however, these allegations are a matter of public record. As we begin the new academic year, I want to assure you that the College responded immediately and appropriately as soon as we were notified of the incident.

As always, we have been cooperating with local authorities and appreciate their continued efforts in helping to keep our community safe.

Sincerely,

Pg

Philip A. Glotzbach
President

Shortly before–as mentioned in the statement–President Glotzbach sent out an email to the student body outlining steps that the administration has taken to address the growing issue of sexual and gender-based misconduct on college campuses and “foster a campus climate of respect, care, and safety.”

These steps include the creation of a new comprehensive website on sexual and gender-based misconduct; three public forums to be held over the course of this upcoming semester; and an addition unto the New-Student Orientation of a new program entitled “The First 6 Weeks” that will “address a wide range of issues during this important transitional moment for students.”

I strongly encourage you to read through the email and peruse the new website, as it contains very thorough information on sexual misconduct, how to respond to any such misconduct, and what we as a community can do to address this important issue.

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

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.

New Information on Last Week’s Reported Rape

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Last Wednesday, Campus Safety sent out a notice informing the Skidmore community of a rape reported by a female student on campus. While a fuller picture has emerged, details remain somewhat scanty.

According to director of Campus Safety Dennis Conway, the victim does not wish to be identified. Campus Safety has not interviewed the victim, nor has she indicated any desire to pursue a criminal investigation.

The Saratogian reports:

The victim has been working with a sexual assault adviser, according to Conway. He said there are a number of people on campus, both counselors and other professionals, who are trained in that capacity.
The adviser will discuss the victim’s options and encourage him or her to seek medical treatment. The adviser also acted as a third-party bridge between Campus Safety and the victim, relaying the email to the victim to look over and make any changes before it was sent out to the campus.
“We don’t want the first time they see it to be when it comes out in an email (to the campus),” Conway said.

It would seem that Conway’s department is completely in the dark, with the victim declining to reveal any information beyond the fact that a rape was, indeed, perpetrated.

(via The Saratogian)

Rape Aggression Defense Class

Monday, April 1st, 2013
IT'S FREE THOUGH

EXCEPT IT’S FREE THOUGH

Starting this Wednesday, Campus Safety will be running a series of R.A.D. (Rape Aggression Defense) classes on campus, and I’ve been asked to relay the info. The classes are open to all women in the Skidmore community.

The R.A.D. (Rape Aggression Defense) System is a nationally recognized program of realistic self-defense tactics and techniques for women. The R.A.D. System is a comprehensive, women-only course that begins with awareness, prevention, risk reduction and risk avoidance, while progressing on to the basics of hands-on defense training.

Participants must attend all four classes, and although originally slated to cost $20 per head, it is now FREE. For those interested, contact Officer Terri Sanacore (tsanacor@skidmore.edu), Officer Trevor Barber (tbarber@skidmore.edu) or Officer Danielle Charbonneau (dcharbon@skidmore.edu),  or give Campus Safety a call at (518) 580-5567.

Wednesday April 3 
Thursday April 4  
Tuesday April 9
Thursday April 11
@ 5:30pm