Bucknell Student Government’s (BSG) second annual Campus Climate Panel brought up issues deemed important by student panelists, including sexual assault, the presence of Greek life, race, and student apathy on Nov. 11 in Trout Auditorium.
This year’s panelists represented a variety of backgrounds and campus involvement, including class years, Greek organizations, sports teams, and political and performing arts groups. Michael Sahagian ’15, Christine Sorrentino ’15, Shiri Levine ’16, Anthony Marcozzi ’16, Lindsey Ruff ’16, Justin Eyster ’17, Andranae Nelson ’17, and Maeve Greeley ’18 were the panelists.
BSG President Loren Jablon ’15 and Student Advocacy Chair Alex Rosen ’16 moderated the panel, although they only asked the panelists two questions before opening up the discussion to include both the panelists and student attendees. The majority of the panel involved conversation between the panelists and attendees.
“I truly believe that the Campus Climate Panel was a huge success this year because we had a diverse Panel that represented a wide array of perspectives at Bucknell. We had incredibly intelligent and outspoken Panelists that were able to hold a constructive conversation and debate each other politely,” said Rosen.
While last year’s Campus Climate Panel drew a large crowd, this year’s smaller audience remained engaged while interacting with the panelists.
While much of the panel involved conversations about Greek life, some students pointed out that not all issues on campus relate to Greek life. Instead, issues such as racial and socioeconomic inequality affect students regardless of Greek affiliation.
The panelists related Greek life to other problems on campus, including sexual assault, the excessive drinking culture, and a lack of student engagement in regard to academics and sober activities.
“Not all of the groups on campus are on equal footing,” Eyster said, referring to the dominance that fraternities and sororities have on the University’s social scene.
Sahagian, who is the President of Sigma Chi, countered this argument by saying that Greek life inspires a sense of personal accountability among students.
The panelists agreed, however, that one of the main issues on campus is the prevalence of excessive or problem drinking.
“The idea is not to drink, it is to get drunk … It is a mentality,” Levine said about the drinking culture.
Similarly, Ruff, who is a Speak UP Bucknell Peer Educator, commented on the University’s party atmosphere.
“The atmosphere of parties isn’t conducive to conversation,” Ruff said.
The panelists brought up the misogyny of the “ratio” system used by the hosts of parties.
As the panel came to a close, both the panelists and attendees suggested actions and next steps. Sahagian, who is a member of BSG, suggested that students voice their concerns at weekly BSG meetings, which are open to all students. Other students gathered together to address issues related to the department of international education. Through the moderation of BSG, panelists and attendees succeeded in assessing the current state of the campus climate by addressing questions, grievances, and concerns about various aspects of campus life.