Hate Speech Found on Campus

Barbara Bell, News Editor

In an email released to students on Aug. 25, University President John Bravman informed the University community of a racist, hateful message that was found written on a whiteboard outside the door of a faculty member’s office in Dana Engineering. Bravman described the language contained on the board as a “disgusting display of intolerance.” As of this publication date, no suspect has been named.

The message itself, which has not been released, contained racial slurs and other discriminating remarks. The content was first discovered by a custodian, sometime in the overnight hours of Aug. 24, but Public Safety responded to the incident and dusted for fingerprints on the marker of the whiteboard.

The whiteboard was placed conspicuously. “It wasn’t hidden,” Chief of Public Safety Stephen Barilar said.

Barilar believes the incident was tied to the specific faculty member whose door it was attached to. He also explained the nature of the ongoing investigation and some of the difficulties faced in narrowing down a suspect.

“Dana Engineering is open 24/7, so we can’t monitor card access,” Barilar said. “Unlike Academic West, for example, which does lock each night, there aren’t the same resources available to get the same witnesses.”

On the heels of last semester’s diversity discussions, brought to the forefront by hateful, racial remarks made on the WVBU radio station and that culminated in a widely-attended Bucknell Student Government Solidarity Ceremony, the whiteboard incident revisits the diversity and inclusion work that Bravman deems “critical.” He alluded to his disappointment in a follow-up statement to The Bucknellian.

“This incident is antithetical to all that we hope to come. We cannot allow cowardly acts such as this to thwart our efforts toward the change this community deserves,” Bravman said.

The larger University community has also expressed its outrage over the incident.

“I am extremely disappointed by this overt display of racism. However, if we look at this incident from a different perspective, I am also encouraged by it. Our efforts to engage the student body in a productive dialogue about respect is clearly making a significant impact,” Bucknell Student Government President Alex Rosen ’16 said. “I’d like to think that these heinous displays of intolerance are in response to feelings of threatened power. The individuals who have the audacity to publicly display their bigotry are clearly feeling the impact of the student-driven quest for justice.”

Other students have begun to question the lasting impacts that the University’s Solidarity Ceremony has had on this semester’s campus climate.

“It’s kind of a wake-up call that even though we took some steps forward with the solidarity event, we still have a long way to go. We need to remind ourselves that just because it’s a new semester doesn’t mean that things can just return to ‘normal,’” Prescott Bliss ’17 said. 

As the investigation continues, Barilar echoed the sentiments of Bravman’s zero tolerance policy of racial discrimination.

“The University has no tolerance when it comes to these things. If the student is found, there is a 100 percent chance that he/she will be expelled.”

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