Our finest moments are often brought about by the darkest of times. This past spring, on the evening of April 14, I experienced such a moment — one of the most meaningful of my career. Thousands gathered on the Academic Quad for a student-led solidarity event that inspired a sense of optimism. That special event stood in contrast to an incident hree weeks earlier, when three students broadcast racist
messages on the University’s student-run radio station. This incident spurred a
broader campus dialogue about the discrimination that is unfortunately a lived daily
reality for some of our students. This all took place in the busy weeks before final
exams, a time when our students could have chosen to focus on themselves and
their schoolwork. Instead, on that April evening, they engaged the campus in a
conversation about achieving equality in our community.
Against the backdrop of Bertrand Library, the symbol of our noble purpose as a
University, students shared their personal experiences with discrimination on campus.
They courageously and brilliantly critiqued each other and the University, casting
light on deeply embedded, societal problems that our campus community must
confront. And they called on their fellow Bucknellians to stand for what is right.
Our University is, of course, not alone. The media have recently highlighted racist
incidents at colleges and universities across the country. But being one of many does
not excuse us from taking responsibility — or action. In fact, we have a special duty
to our students, because if even one person cannot fully participate in our living-learning environment, we have fallen short of our own expectations, and we have
failed to deliver on the promise we make to our students and their families. That
moving event in April convinced me that we have both the resolve and the momentum to do better. We cannot squander this opportunity.
At the end of the gathering, Bucknellians from across campus and from all walks
of life inked their thumbprints on a new, student-initiated solidarity creed. It now
hangs in the student hearth space of the Elaine Langone Center in testament to our
individual and collective commitment to creating a safe and inclusive campus free
from discrimination and prejudice. Much has been done, and there is much more to
do. And so, as we head into the fall semester, we will continue to listen to each other
and transform our conversations into new and specific actions that make our campus
better, answering the call to action with which Bison basketball team captain Ryan
Frazier ’ 16 challenged us that night: “…[It] is our duty to first make this school, and
then the world, as great a place as we know it to be. Let’s start now.”
John Bravman, PRESIDENT
IN TERIM VICE PRESIDEN T
Maureen Harmon of Dog Ear Consultants
& Gigi Marino
AND CLASS NOTES EDITOR
CON TRIBU TING EDITORS
Heather Peavey Johns
Kathryn Kopchik M’89
Christina Masciere Wallace
Molly O’Brien-Foelsch M’98
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