Letter to the Editor

Erica Gene Delsandro, PhD, Visiting Assistant Professor of Women's and Gender Studies

Recent events such as, but not limited to, the shooting death of Michael Brown, the mattress carried by Emma Sulkowicz, and the domestic violence perpetrated by Ray Rice only underscore the presence of violence in our society and the manner in which gender, sexuality, and race intersect with violence. In the wake of such stories, I have been compelled to speak to my classes with urgency about the social expectations that attend constructions of masculinity and femininity, the way violence against women is built into the narratives that characterize heterosexuality, and the role we as members of our various communities can play in shaping and reflecting a culture that does not condone violence, racism, and sexism. To be honest, I expected my efforts to be met with a certain degree of indifference and apathy. I imagined my students potential response: Lewisburg is not Ferguson, Bucknell is not Columbia, and the Greek system is not the National Football League, so why should class time be dedicated to issues unfolding in such geographically and institutionally distant arenas? However, in the classroom I was deeply satisfied to realize that I would not have to explain the relevance, defend my urgency, or convince my students of the presence of these and similar issues in our shared campus community. Although much time and energy has been, and should continue to be, dedicated to illuminating the presence of violence, sexism, and racism within our own community, I want to take this moment to applaud those students who are not apathetic or indifferent and who recognize the urgency and relevance of events unfolding beyond the bounds of our campus. The “Pillows for Emma” project, conceived by Darriana Howard ’17, is just one example of a student-initiated movement that seeks to link Bucknellians with college students and activists across the nation who are revealing oppression, speaking out against injustice, and encouraging their peers to be aware, get involved, and take a stand. This editorial, however, is not simply a pat on the back. With the praise comes the challenge. I am reminded of Crystal Eastman’s speech upon the ratification of the 19th Amendment by the Tennessee legislature: “Now at last we can begin.” I can’t help but think this is the beginning of something significant here at Bucknell.

Erica Gene Delsandro, PhD
Visiting Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies

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