Letter to the Editor

Students know what’s right

To the Editor:

We live in a world of few absolutes. Issues are rarely black and white, and often we are called upon to distinguish subtle shades of gray.

The challenge of grappling with nuance and questioning inherited ideas is especially evident in academia, where so-called “standard interpretations” must sometimes give way to radical new understanding. Coping with ambiguity is something that all of us must confront, especially at a university.

But some ideals, I assert, are absolute, even on a college campus—in fact, especially at a college campus like ours. We are a residential learning and living community that is more than a place of study for our students. For the better part of the year, Bucknell is also their home.

Recently I appointed a Campus Climate Task Force to ensure that we are supporting and encouraging the most positive overall University experience for our students. The response to my decision to appoint this task force tells me that many of us across the campus—students, faculty and staff alike—share a deep interest in the well-being of this community.

In reflecting on that fact, I found myself drawn to fundamental values. It seems to me that while many ideas are open to question today, in a university community there are several truths that remain categorically true, including these:

—Violence between students is always wrong.

—Capitalizing on someone’s desire or need to belong or fit in is always wrong.

—Non-consensual sex by definition is violent, and is always wrong.

—Condoning the violent acts of others, directly or passively, is always wrong.

—Looking the other way when a wrong is being committed is always wrong.

In my short time at Bucknell, I have already come to learn how much we celebrate learning here. We celebrate difference, and overcoming difference. We celebrate achievement, understanding and creativity.

As a home to our students, we must also celebrate our commitment to values and behavior that make a good campus community possible. Administrations and faculties can stand behind this commitment, and we will. Our students, though, have a vital role in bringing this commitment to life for one another every day on our campus. You know what’s right, and what to do. We as a campus community need you to do it. Your fellow students need you to do it, and so do Bucknellians past, present and future.

The University we create happens one decision at a time. Let’s make decisions that are good not just for ourselves, but for others. It seems inarguable that by doing so, we can guarantee that our community is as good as it can be.

John Bravman

President of Bucknell University

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