Letter to the Editor: Show us the money Bucknell!

Sonia Sergeant

Dear President Bravman,

As students of a class titled “Multiculturalism in Education,” my fellow classmates and I have had a number of discussions that confront ideas of anti-Blackness, white supremacy, decolonizing education, critical race theory and implicit bias. In examining the issues that minoritized groups face throughout their educational experiences and the purposes of education in a democratic state, we believe it is important to address these issues within our own community at Bucknell.

This University in many ways does not hold true to its values of diversity, equity and inclusion, which it advertises to incoming and prospective students. The lack of consideration for these values is evident by the recent tuition increase announcement for the 2023-2024 academic year. This increase single-handedly isolates and excludes potential and current students of lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

Bucknell, in your official statement on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, you state that, “Inside the classroom and beyond, we strive to foster an environment in which our students engage with, understand and appreciate perspectives, people and cultures that may be very different from their own.” How can you uphold this promise when you are closing the door to an entire socioeconomic class of students? Out of the 3,724 undergraduates that attend Bucknell, only 20 percent of students are students of color. seven percent of this number are Latinx students, five percent are Asian, four percent are Black and the other four percent identify with multiple races and identities. Research shows that communities of color are disproportionately affected by a lower socioeconomic status. As such, this increase in tuition will directly and negatively affect many students of color. Prospective students of low socioeconomic backgrounds will be disproportionately affected in their ability to attend Bucknell without financial aid. The already small percentages of these underrepresented groups will only become smaller. Increasing tuition permanently impacts efforts to foster an inclusive and diverse environment. This decision hurts students and limits our academic and social community.

We ask, what is your plan as a University to combat the inevitable downward trend of students of color and students from low income backgrounds? We can recognize that the justification for the tuition increase is so professors will receive the pay that they deserve and art programming can continue to be implemented. However, one of the most important aspects of a large university is that the community of teachers and students alike are coming from diverse backgrounds because that provides different perspectives.

How are you going to use this increase in money to address the small percentage of people of color in this community? Are you going to use these resources to ensure that students and faculty of color are comfortable once they reach Bucknell? Last but not least, are you going to use this money towards more programs and training to put in place to help the university move forward with its stated DEI goal? By addressing these concerns will the Diversity Plan for Bucknell be achieved?

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