Editorial: A Call to Action

As members of the University’s community watched President John Bravman walk off the stage after addressing the hate speech broadcasted via WVBU just two weeks prior, a five-minute hush settled over the crowd. For the next few minutes, no one stirred, no one reached for his or her phone, and no one spoke. Rather, members of the crowd did exactly what Bravman requested them to do after he finished—people sat, absorbed what was just relayed, and reflected as a community in their hub of silence.

Two things stood out that afternoon. First, the weight of the issue was so great that it managed to draw over 1,000 individuals to essentially fill up the Weis Center for the Performing Arts on a Tuesday afternoon, a time when many have class, meetings, or a quick lunch crammed in-between. Second, after Bravman exited the stage, nobody exited the Weis Center.

This situation is pivotal. That is clear from the responses to Bravman’s talk, the numerous well-attended and pending conversations organized, and even the slew of Facebook posts engulfing most University students’ newsfeeds. However, it is imperative to understand that this individual incident, while weighted, is merely a microcosm of a larger issue of intolerance and disrespect on the University’s campus.

It is easy to disaffiliate ourselves from the students directly involved. It is easy to describe this as an isolated incident that is no real indication of the campus culture. It is difficult, however, to scroll through the University’s Yik Yak feed and read minority students publicly expressing the animosity they have faced from behind an anonymous avatar. It is difficult to truly grasp the notion that there are individuals who do not feel safe walking around campus at night, do not feel comfortable at a range of social events, and have been called an array of demoralizing names. It is difficult to understand the perspective of the “others.”

Racism might still be an issue across the country, but that by no means equates it as acceptable on this campus. In order to help propel our University forward, we have to think of this event as a part of the whole. Each individual on campus must take responsibility for the culture that has been fostered on this campus since before we got here. Even more, each must take responsibility for pushing our culture forward, vouching to speak out against instances many of us understand as wrong, opening dialogue about incidents that might have happened in the past, and going out of our way to keep the conversation going.

This incident has already escalated to the point where it is leading to a greater conversation that seems to be a critical point in the University’s history, but we need to make this one count. Students should be at the forefront of this effort, and they can do so by taking a wealth of initiatives:

  • Attend the impending BSG events pertaining to the issue
  • Go to an event of a cultural club you are not affiliated with
  • Reach outside of your friend group for dinner
  • Take a course that deals with the culture or literature of a group you are unaffiliated with
  • Raise your hand and tie the topic into an in-class discussion
  • Attend an on-campus event that pushes you out of your comfort zone
  • Refuse to be apathetic; speak out against anything that could be considered a racial slur
  • Understand what bias incidents entail via the Bias Incident Policy http://www.bucknell.edu/biaspolicy
  • Report bias incidents via the Bias Reporting Form http://www.bucknell.edu/biasreporting

The first point of action many of us took on March 31 was making the conscious decision to remain in our seats, silent, upon the request of Bravman for a few minutes to reflect. Our next might be to start a social media campaign, write a letter addressed to whomever expressing our sentiments, or even just attend one of the other organized events pertaining this issue. Regardless, our next point of action will be just that—action. Without it, there is no chance we will attain what Bravman describes as “the best, most authentic version of Bucknell,” something we are evidently nowhere near right now.

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