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.
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.