SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) ­ The director of student diversity programs at Skidmore College has resigned, saying she was alarmed by reactions to her complaints about a patriotic celebration at SeaWorld in Orlando.

Hilal Isler, a Turkish-American Muslim, e-mailed her comments to the Orlando Sentinel, which published a March 16 story that attracted the attention of syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh.

“The response to my opinions, specifically regarding a recent experience at SeaWorld has been alarming and remains a source of great bewilderment and anxiety,” Isler said in a letter to the Skidmore community. “In interest of moving swiftly through this context of considerable turmoil, I will be stepping down from my position at the college”. . .

Isler wrote to the Orlando paper after a March 5 visit by her and her husband to SeaWorld’s Shamu stadium. She described flying eagles and the American flag flashing on a jumbo screen as audience members shouted “We support our troops” and “Go America.”

Isler was quoted in the Orlando paper saying “We are not at a military rally” and “Maybe they don’t want us here.”

Skidmore College President Philip A. Glotzbach said in a prepared statement that Isler has received many upsetting e-mails and other messages from around the country. He said college officials had asked her to reconsider her resignation.

Her complaints about the comments of a bus driver on that same day led to his firing this month. According to Isler, the driver on the I-Ride Trolley bus greeted passengers, told a blonde joke and then one about Muslims.

“And now they’re telling us we’re supposed to be nice to these Muslim terrorists who are trying to kill us all,” Isler recalled him saying. “Here in America, we call them ‘rag-heads’ or ‘towelheads,’ but that’s not right. What they wear on their heads is more like a sheet. We should be calling them sheetheads.”


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