Independent investigation of May 13th Fran’s House incident concludes; Tower House now permanent home of LGBTQ+ affinity

Two months after a large group of students allegedly associated with the former Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) fraternity attempted to enter the University’s dedicated LGBTQ+ affinity housing, a University-commissioned independent investigation into the matter has closed, according to a July 12 email to the student body. Despite acknowledging that the students’ behavior “clearly damaged the sense of safety and belonging for the residents of Fran’s House,” President Bravman relayed that the investigatory firm found “no evidence that the students […] were motivated by bias against the residents and their affinity as an LGBTQ+ community.”

In the same email, Bravman noted that Tower House has now been established as “the permanent campus affinity house for LGBTQ+ students and their allies,” and will be renamed “Fran’s House.” The move marks a departure from the University’s previous policy of assigning housing accommodations, requiring affinity leaders like those of Fran’s to fill a certain number of slots in order to keep their previous accommodations. Additionally, Bravman  noted that “important and frank discussions” led by Provost Elisabeth Mermann-Jozwiak are slated for the near future, intended at “making long-overdue, systemic changes.” The email shared neither the nature nor timeline of those discussions with the student body. 

The investigation was originally announced on May 20, less than a week following the incident at Fran’s House. According to Public Safety logs, nearly twenty students were reported for disorderly conduct just after 8 p.m. on the evening of the 13th. Residential Advisor Tyler Luong, who was in the house throughout the duration of the incident, described the group as “bang[ing] against our doors and windows, swing[ing] a metal bar at our flag pole that displays our pride flag,” as well as “urinat[ing] on our front porch.” When Public Safety officers arrived on scene, they allegedly fraternized openly with the brothers, “laugh[ing] at the situation” and promised that the students would “get access to [Fran’s House] when finals week was over, shaking each and every one of their hands.” 

The incident drew immediate and broad condemnation from across the Bucknell community after Fran’s House residents shared their accounts on social media. Notably, a campus march organized by faculty and students in support of Fran’s House drew a half-mile deep crowd on May 15th, just two days after the incident. Protestors identified a “culture of toxic masculinity” as a key enabler of the incident, and criticized Public Safety’s actions with call-response chants like “P-Safe! (Isn’t Safe!)” 

Regarding both the incident itself and subsequent response by Public Safety, Bravman noted that “Details regarding the individual consequences for [those involved] will not be shared per University policy.” The President is likely referring to the University’s obligations under the 1974 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which according to the Student Handbook “limits the information that the University can share with third parties, including parents,” from student educational records. While the Bucknellian was unable to identify any similar statute governing disclosure of Public Safety disciplinary information, Director of Communications Mike Ferlazzo noted that “Bucknell does not discuss personnel matters,” including those concerning campus security. The Bucknellian will continue to provide coverage on this story as new information becomes available.

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