Letter to the Editor 1 – Issue 10

Dear Bucknell Community,

As alumni of Bucknell University, we are writing to express our deep concerns about the recent incident involving student DJs on WVBU. We are profoundly troubled that the remarks on WVBU were made within the overall culture and learning environment of Bucknell and how this incident is a manifestation of a much more entrenched culture of racism.

In our time at Bucknell, we experienced acts of overt racism and countless microaggressions towards students and faculty of color. We are outraged that this culture still permeates the institution. In addition to the remarks on WVBU, we only need to look at the media interviews of students to hear that many are more concerned with getting caught saying something “wrong” and how that might impact their future.  There is a much larger challenge we all need to face than holding a few students accountable.

As a top liberal arts university, Bucknell is expected to teach all students to think critically and understand the world around them. Racism is one of the most troubling issues that faces the nation, yet upon graduation we left without an understanding of how racism has been developed and legislated and how racism can be undone. Over the course of four years, there were no required classes or any other educational opportunity or programming that directly addressed this topic. If the Bucknell community is to be accountable for equity and inclusion, it must address not only those who are outright hateful and biased, but those who stand by silently and do not understand their own power and privilege.

Given the recent remarks, the safety (physical and emotional) of the students, faculty, and staff of color at Bucknell must be of a primary and utmost concern. Their voices and insight must be centered at the forefront of the work to make a larger change at Bucknell as they understand the impact of racism better than anyone. The university needs to make a commitment to addressing structural racism in its policies and procedures and in its curriculum. This commitment should span from admissions to alumni relations and beyond. We can no longer afford to assume colorblindness is an effective way to address such complex challenges. Bucknell needs to take an anti-racist stance and incorporate these ideas and training into its core mission as an educational institution. Lastly, as a school with a student body that remains majority white and affluent, there needs to be curriculum that critically examines white, American culture, so that students understand their own socialization and how it shapes the world around them.

The Bucknell community past, present, and future will benefit from the healing that this type of transformation can provide. We will stand in solidarity with Bucknell once it makes a commitment to implement these necessary changes, and then we will proudly say we are Bucknell University alumni.

 

 

Sincerely,

Heather (Adams) Batten, ’00

Nat Arlander, ’00

Danielle Chase (Dilkes), ’00

Heidi (Daub) Soyster, ’00

Cherra Mathis, ’14

Payton Rawls, ’99

Erin (Schenck) Oliver, ’00

Kellen (Smith) Washington, ’03

Lauren Young, ’00

 

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