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An admirable, but poorly thought-out protest

How the Anti-Carroll protestors need to act moving forward

Published: Friday, April 12, 2013

Updated: Saturday, April 13, 2013 15:04

carroll sit in protest 4/12/13

Cynthia Carroll has been a topic of controversy these past few weeks, and was the cause of a student protest last Friday that interrupted the monthly faculty meeting.


Last Friday, 40 students interrupted April's faculty meeting to protest the college’s choice to invite Cynthia Carroll to speak at commencement. The protest was the first of its kind in twenty years -- when students protested the lack of racial diversity -- and garnered much attention among the student body. This newspaper commends the student protestors courage and their conviction to make their voices heard and see their passions manifest into civil action. However, this newspaper does not believe these protestors comported themselves in a manner that deserved the kind of respect they demanded the administration show students. Although it was only the actions of a few that were truly disrespectful, that does not exonerate the rest of the students involved who were just as responsible for this protest and should have controlled their rowdy members.

The controversy over Cynthia Carroll was well evident before this latest act of protest and it is understandable that these protestors wanted the administration to address the issue more directly. What this newspaper finds unfortunate is how quickly the protestors concerned with Carroll’s background escalated the matter. With the exception of a small group of largely SGA affiliated students that includes one member of Friday's protesters, the student body has not  appealed to the administration with any meaningful action. About twenty students have written letters to the President to complain about Carroll and demand the administration do more to address the issue, but an email that could have been placed in  junk inbox or missed among the hundreds of other emails the President's office receives every week is not enough. If the students had taken any strong action before this latest protest; if they had sent a signed petition( with at least 100 names, not even a twentieth of the student body) demanding the administration justify their choice and take more action to redress the protestors' grievances;  if they had organized an open event that invited the administration to address the student body; or even if they had first held a sit-in at the President's office, and the administration had continued to ignore this group, then this latest protest may have been justifiable. But these protestors took no visibly significant action first. They acted in a manner that should have been a last resort of protest and interrupted and disturbed the faculty meeting.  Furthermore, the fact is that the administration has been overly eager to engage in dialogues with students in regards to the Cynthia Carroll controversy, and have gone so far as to secure a teleconference with Carroll for next week so that students can question her directly. This upcoming teleconference, oddly, was already known by the protestors, but they chose to carry out their protest anyway.

These protestors made a pitiful attempt to speak with the administration and then barged in on the faculty meeting, with a few insulting President Glotzbach. Even if we excused the few discourteous protesters, the protest as a whole remains immature.

Moving forward, those who oppose Cynthia Carroll as a commencement speaker need to conduct themselves in a way which deserves the kind of respect that they demand. It is unclear how many students of the graduating class are so firmly against Cynthia Carroll -- just because the anti-Carroll voices are the loudest does not mean they speak for the majority. Opponents of Carroll need to demonstrate that they have the support of the senior class in their actions. This could most easily be achieved through a petition. Opponents should also initiate the dialogues with the administration that they claim to want. Students need to take charge and responsibly initiate the change they want to see. Lastly, it is quite unlikely that Carroll will be dropped as a commencement speaker. She was chosen over a year ago and this year's commencement already has one less speaker than usual. Instead of demanding that Skidmore withdraw her invitation to speak, concerned students should ask for the administration to reexamine the way that commencement speakers are selected in the future. It is a fair request that students be included on this decision, and this newspaper asks that the administration gives due consideration to this issue.

This is what those 40 students should have done and should do now. To now directly address those 40 students -- you held your protest and got our attention, now prove that you are mature enough to deserve our regard. If you decide to continue down this disruptive road, though, this newspaper and many of the graduating seniors only hope that you are considerate enough to not attempt something similar at graduation and spoil one of the most important days in the lives of the members of senior class.

And to the administration: one of the complaints made by the protestors was that the administration is dragging out the current discussion in place. The administration needs to be thorough and careful, but they cannot just hold out until graduation has come and pass. Time may be on the administration's side but to not address these issues in a timely manner is just as irresponsible as the actions of the student protestors.

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Fri Apr 26 2013 18:09
LMAO. The Skid News has the audacity to speak about maturity?

This whole article is immature. There are so many different ways to speak about these issues on this campus. Putting students on blast isn't an effective form of criticism. If Forbes would be able to rank for worst campus newspaper, Skidmore would definitely have a chance of being number one.

Mon Apr 15 2013 23:59
I'm disappointed in this article, not because I vehemently oppose honoring Cynthia Carroll but because this is poor journalism.
Mon Apr 15 2013 20:09


Sat Apr 13 2013 20:19
Well done, I think that this article offers an interesting point that students need to acknowledge. All pieces of the argument must be examined. In addition, it is a fact of the real world that violence and reside comments do not get change. If students want the attention the pat they are asking for, they should request it in a mature way.
Aneta Molenda
Sat Apr 13 2013 12:35
"Lastly, it is quite unlikely that Carroll will be dropped as a commencement speaker. Instead of demanding that Skidmore withdraw her invitation to speak, concerned students should ask for the administration to reexamine the way that commencement speakers are selected in the future."

Sad, really, that the SkidNews is propagating messages of powerlessness to the student body. We can absolutely retract Carroll as a speaker, and if administration refuses I hope students will stage a protest at graduation--a protest wouldn't be what "spoils" this important day, but rather Carroll herself and what she represents.

"To now directly address those 40 students -- you held your protest and got our attention, now prove that you are mature enough to deserve our regard,"

Instead of these protesting students needing to "prove" anything (which many of them continuously already do--through pamphlets, emails, statements, comments), why doesn't the editorial board and any other student who is waiting for more proof on why Carroll embodies corporate evil, take some responsibility and do their own research and draw their own conclusions. I'd love to hear why some students feel that she should be at graduation, other than being successful (and here, think about what kind of success and at whose expense) or being a woman (important, but there are plenty of professional women out there who aren't directly tied to death and destruction).

I wish I was at Skidmore this semester to see students finally taking a stand about something so important--I wish I could join you. I send my strength and love from South Africa (a site of many human rights violations and environmental problems associated with Anglo-American) and continue to support your fight for the withdrawal of Cynthia Carroll as this year's commencement speaker.

Sat Apr 13 2013 11:25
This article is bad and you should feel bad.
Sat Apr 13 2013 09:24
Dear author,

You may think that soem of the protesters were "immature" or "inappropriate." But they got your attention and the attention of ther est of the campus, didn't they? So maybe they did something right after all. Please don't be so quick to judge.

Sat Apr 13 2013 03:03
Another disgusting example of the administrations control of a "Student" newspaper. Gross.
Sat Apr 13 2013 02:34
Did an undergraduate student write this editorial? Or a 75-year-old arch conservative? To focus on the lack of "courtesy" on the part of a monority of the protestors--and then to add that the protestors should have "controlled" those "rowdy members" who exceeded your definition of propriety, is quite frankly, ludicrous. Have you ever considered how difficult it is to "control" a 19-year-old student? Ask us parents! How "courteous" is it for Ms. Carroll's company Anglo American, to bury 40 people alive in its Ghanian mining venture, among other "improprieties". To invite the former head of an expolitative mining company as the commencement speaker is an insult to the entire Skidmore student body, and breaking some china, raising your temper is entirely appropriate. So this is the first such protest in twenty years at Skidmore? Well, editors, get ready for a whole lot more of these protests, because Skidmore is about to become a whole lot more diverse, unpredictable and creative with each new entering class.
Jessica Aleman
Sat Apr 13 2013 01:43
As a journalist, it of the utmost importance to make sure your facts are correct, especially if you are representing the entire Editorial Board of SkidNews. Your newspaper finds unfortunate how quickly students escalated the commencement situation. You state that the student body, aside from SGA, has not communicated with the administration, yet you did not mention that several students involved in the protest did in fact have close connections with the administration. One of these students has been reporting back and forth between the administration and the concerned group that was dissatisfied with the choice of Cynthia Carroll. The teleconference with Carroll has always been on the books, and the protestors never refused to hold this event.

The argument has never been just about Cynthia Carroll, as many believe - it is about the industry she represents. We all know that the mining industry is incredibly controversial and holds abominable records in regards to human rights and the environment. We also know of BP's horrid environmental record. The administration and many others who commend Cynthia Carroll as the speaker believe that students can learn something from a woman who "made it big" in the corporate world. Carroll has attempted to create better working conditions and safer environmental practices, and could have arguably been trying to "better" the company from within. There are moral implications to this approach of "making the world a better place" - should we praise and commend Carroll for trying to reinvent AngloAmerican and how it works, or should we instead disapprove her position altogether due to the inherent injustices that will always remain within the industry? Yes, the world needs metal, steel, and rare earth elements to sustain the infrastructure and technologies needed for consumer culture and perpetual state warfare, but how can a mining industry or even consumption rates really change without the rehaul of the Capitalist economic system itself?

Many student protestors believe that this exploitation and injustice is something that needs to be collectively and seriously addressed. The imperialist motives behind large corporate industries, such as oil and mining companies, provide the world with the commodities it "needs" to "survive". Skidmore believes that sustainability, civic engagement, and moral responsibility are all important values to live by, according to its mission statement and growing Sustainability Committee, yet how serious can Skidmore be if it is an institution that runs on the Capitalist system itself? This raises the topic of "how far one can push against the system while having to work within it." Why didn't Skidmore instead choose an expert in Alternative Energy, or a representative of a Human Rights NGO? These are questions we must ask. I hope that the student engagement does not end after the "solution" to the Carroll issue is found, if ever.

If the "anti-Carroll" voices are the loudest, it is because they encompass the most passion and effort. If others were so strongly opposed to the movement, they'd be doing something about it as well. This protest was brought about by something bigger than Cynthia Carroll, something that has been going on all over the world: an increasing movement of intolerance to exploitation, deception, and division by those who enslave us. We need to stop going in circles by praising big oil and other industries that contain more wealth than many of the World's nations, and instead demand that we expose hypocrisy and perjury, take responsibility, and change our approaches to living and consuming on this planet if we want to have a future for our children.

This poorly written article condemns students for standing together and demanding real change. If SkidNews admires the courage of the student protestors and seems to know all of the answers, it would be nice for such individuals to be involved in this process. Whether the protest took place in an organized fashion or not, criticism of bravery must be checked. Discussing ideas must be greatly encouraged, rather than rumor-spreading that intends to discredit those who care.

Fri Apr 12 2013 23:59
"with a few insulting President Glotzbach... Even if we excused the few discourteous protesters..."
i think readers might be interested in the insults you mentioned. and be careful -- because making up 'facts' in a news publication, such as 'a few insulting...discourteous protestors,' is problematic.
Even if a newspaper owned by Anglo-American in 1977 censored information about the murder of Steve Biko, anti-apartheid activist, in South Africa --
that doesn't mean you can just go around, making up facts, too.
This is, after all, America. Not some sort of lawless, polluted, oppressed and dysfunctional nation where groups of white people (like our friends at ANGLO AMERICAN and BP) can just get together and use their technology and capital to make some money off the peasants (like in South Africa, Ghana, Alaska, Chile, Ireland, Zimbabwe, and all over THE WORLD)...
Fri Apr 12 2013 23:21
I note that the term "the administration" used throughout this article, doesn't distinguish the faculty from the administration; they are distinct bodies, responsible for, and to, separate (though complementary) aspects of the college. Students protesting the choice of commencement speaker should (and may, though this article doesn't makemit clear) decide what they hope to achieve when appealing to one group....or the other.

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