Letter to the Editor: The Unrelenting Anti-Blackness of Bucknell University

A letter to whom it may concern: The Board of Trustees, President Bravman, President’s Diversity Council, Dean Amy Badal, Associate Dean Denelle Brown, and Bucknell Student Government Executive Board 

In the spring of 1985, a group of concerned Black Bucknellians penned and publicly delivered A Black Student Manifesto. In this letter, they identified institutional racism as the enemy of our university and called on Bucknell to take tangible and urgent action against this vicious and insidious phenomenon. They describe the racial conditions of this campus with scant detail, though, it takes nothing but a quick glance to conclude that the Bucknell of our present is not much different from the Bucknell of the past. The most glaring example of this is found on page two of the manifesto where its authors call on the university to increase Black enrollment to 5% by 1990. It’s been nearly 40 years, and as of Fall of 2022, Black students make-up approximately 4% of the university’s total undergraduates [1]

In the spirit of the alums who’ve graced this campus before us, and in honor of those who’ll grace this campus after us, we, the members of the Black Student Union, call on the Bucknell community to recognize and act upon, the willful and egregious disregard, consumption, exploitation, and spirit-murder of Black students and faculty that occurs on these yards. Some readers of this correspondence will have trouble reconciling the well-resourced and idyllic nature of Bucknell with the claims of this letter, so to that, we say, if you know, you know

Similar to our forewriters, as concerned Black students, we are committed to a continuous struggle against those practices, ideologies, and normative expectations that give way to the unrelenting anti-blackness experienced by those here on campus. We are asking all those who are aligned with our mission and vision – faculty, administrators, staff, parents, students, and alumni – to join in our fight. 

In view of this urgent situation, we demand the following of Bucknell University: 

  1. We DEMAND an Office for Black Student Development. This office should have ample funding to increase Black student’s enrollment, retention, completion, graduation, and successful transfer. This office should have a full-time coordinator whose job description is developed with formal input from the Black Student Union and other Black-identifying organizations on campus. 
  2. The university hires a Development Officer whose sole responsibility is around raising funds for Black Students recruitment and retention efforts. This Development Officer should work directly with Black Student Union and Multicultural Student Services. The Development Officer should be granted access to the university’s largest donors so that they may aid in efforts to fundraise for scholarships for Black students.
  3. The creation of a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) exchange program, which would invite Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) students to Bucknell and for current undergraduate students to attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). 
  4. The establishment of bi-annual Campus Climate Meetings focusing on Black campus life mandated through the Vice President for Equity & Inclusive Excellence and the Office of the Provost as an avenue for accountability to issues and concerns raised by Black students, staff, faculty, and community in the greater Lewisburg Area. 
  5. The creation of at least one Bucknell University Endowed Chair in every academic department with demonstrated research and teaching focused on issues of relevance to Black lives and culture with structural analysis, and demonstrated experience of training, mentoring and service in these areas. The hires or appointments must be approved by a special committee of faculty that will be identified by the Black Student Union. 
  6. We demand historically Black Greek Letter Organizations have physical representations on campus like plots, benches, or trees. 
  7. We demand administration to include questions about racial climate of classrooms in end-of-semester course evaluations with a corresponding annual report to be released to the entire Bucknell community. 
  8. We demand that there be more housing options for Black students on campus aside from 7th Street House. 
  9. We demand that the Bucknell Student Government see to the creation and implementation of a Black Student Affairs Committee. This committee should function separately from the Diversity Affairs Congressional Committee and be endowed with organizational rights similar to that of other Congressional Committees. 
  10. We demand that the Bucknell Student Government see to the permanent appointment of a member of the Black Student Union to the BSG Finance Committee. This appointed member should be endowed with committee rights no different than that of other members and should be selected with the input of the Black Student Union Executive Board. 


Black Student Union Executive Board 


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