Skidmore College must change its policy on readmittance of those found to have committed sexual assault. Where the College has made a finding that a student has committed sexual assault, the penalty should be expulsion.

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Skidmore College must change its policy on readmittance of those found to have committed sexual assault. Where the College has made a finding that a student has committed sexual assault, the penalty should be expulsion.

This petition had 1,448 supporters
Lani Verges-Radack started this petition to President, Skidmore College Phillip A. Glotzbach and

As alumni, we typically take great pride in our connection to Skidmore College.  We are donors, we are supporters, and we relish in our connection with Skidmore. We are very proud of Skidmore’s students, especially the young woman who bravely came forward after surviving sexual assault to speak out against the college’s policies on sexual misconduct.  However, right now, we are ashamed of Skidmore. We are deeply disappointed by Skidmore’s handling of the recently publicized sexual assault matter.  This matter has brought to our attention the fact that Skidmore’s policy on sexual misconduct is unacceptable and must be changed.

 

What the alumni are demanding is simple: Skidmore College must change its policy on readmittance of those found to have committed sexual assault.  Where the College has made a finding that a student has committed sexual assault, the penalty should be expulsion. In cases where a student is accused of sexual misconduct, the accused is afforded an opportunity to be heard before the college tribunal makes a finding whether the student violated the policy. That there may remain a pending criminal investigation is irrelevant; for the college’s purposes, such a finding means that the student has committed a grave violation of the college’s sexual misconduct policy.

 

The current policy allows for a student found to have committed sexual assault to apply for readmittance to the college. That by itself is a policy that is inconsistent with the college’s duty to protect its students. It is inconsistent with the college’s mission to provide an educational environment that is safe and supportive to all students. It is inconsistent with a college that began as a college for women and whose students stand against gender-based and sexual violence. The policy should be simple: if you commit sexual violence on this campus, you will be expelled. You have lost the privilege of attending Skidmore College.  It’s as simple as that.

 

The current policy allows for far too much discretion as to who is readmitted and under what circumstances.  Students and alumni will want to know: why should someone who has committed sexual assault be allowed to return? What could this person possibly have done to undo the harm done to the survivor of the attack? Why should the survivor be forced to attend college – a small, close-knit residential college – with her or his rapist? The college won’t answer these questions in individual cases because of confidentiality rules. The fact that these questions even arise is a problem. We shouldn’t have to ask those questions, because once a student has been found to have sexually assaulted a classmate, that student should be dismissed permanently.  We shouldn’t be discussing when or whether the offender may return to campus.

 

The conversation we should be having is how we, as the Skidmore community, are going to support survivors of sexual violence. How are we going to help the survivor heal?  What will we do to make sure the survivor can continue to attend Skidmore? The students of Skidmore have proven their commitment to ending sexual assault and gender-based violence. They turn out in scores every year for V-Day and the student production of the Vagina Monologues. They turn out in the hundreds to support survivors of sexual assault. And if the anger of your alumni gives the college any indication, Skidmore students continue far beyond graduation to stand up against sexual assault and gender-based violence – so much so that when their beloved alma mater proves not worthy of the task, they come back and demand that the college change.

 

We the alumni are asking the college to change.  In fact, we aren’t just asking. We aren’t going to give Skidmore College any more financial support until it DOES change. We will tell every other alumnus to withhold his or her dollars until Skidmore College changes its sexual misconduct policy. Every single person signing this letter is a donor – big or small, we all give to the college and make it possible for Skidmore to continue to skyrocket through the rankings, to be a college far more distinguished every year. All those students who lined the halls of Palamountain this week? They will be alumni one day, too.

 

Skidmore College must change its sexual misconduct policy, and it must do so now. Students who commit sexual offenses have no place on Skidmore’s campus, not now, and not in the future. Skidmore must stand on the side of survivors, of those who fight against violence, of those who fight against rape. Be an example, Skidmore. Learn from this embarrassment and change. Change the policy today.

 

Your alumni are watching.

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