Student protests disrupt Admitted Students Open House

Jessica Kaplan, Co-Print Managing Editor

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The University’s Admitted Student Open House, held on April 13, was disrupted by a series of student protests. The first seen protest was a banner hung over the entrance of the Gerhard Fieldhouse during the afternoon activities fair, which read “Best Place for Party: ΣΑΕ; ΔΥ; ΚΔΡ; ΦΓΔ, ΣΧ; ΧΦ; ΛΧΑ to Get RAPED Fraternities.” Another similar banner concerning the University’s dining prices was hung at the uphill entrance to the Elaine Langone Center reading, “Why does B.U. Force Students to Purchase Mealplans? Pasta: @ B. U. = $8, @ Walmart = 89¢.”  A third banner that was hung over Freas Hall  read, “By way of Bucknell really means ‘create unsafe spaces’ & ‘tokenize students of color.”

The protest was organized by “a handful individuals of their own accord, with no formal group ties to one another,” Tyler DiBartolo ’19, a student involved, said. DiBartolo further explained how the protest’s ultimate goal was “to create a community where those who seek to enact change have the power and support to do so, regardless of the stance of the administration and the donors to whom they pander.”

“The protest this weekend came about through the collection of numerous student voices and alumni …  The students want to be heard!” Titi Awe ’19, another student who was involved, said. More specifically, Awe explained how the protest aimed to showcase the “lack of support for minority students (safe spaces, diversity, and inclusion, etc.), food insecurity, issues surrounding sexual assault, and the general normalization/avoidance of these issues.”

A statement issued by Chief Communications Officer Andy Hirsch on behalf of University President John Bravman, Dean of Students Amy Badal, Title IX Coordinator Kate Grimes, and Speak UP faculty adviser Becca Geiger, stated, “Student protests were permitted to take place without interruption. Any banners that were removed were taken down, not because of their content, but because they were deployed in ways that were inconsistent with University policy.”

Hirsch’s statement also acknowledged the necessity of student activism, noting that “the events of Saturday aren’t unique to Bucknell; in many ways, activism is an important part of the history and culture of college campuses across the country.”

“I believe that there is a lot of miscommunication between students and faculty about the activities Greek life is involved in. President Bravman has piloted an initiative to have dinners throughout each semester between students involved in Greek Life and faculty, where we can engage in an open discussion to address potential concerns surrounding the Greek community,” President of Alpha Delta Pi Nicole Cirra ’20 said. Cirra also voiced her belief that “students involved in Greek Life should engage in conversation to teach others that we are trying to be more diverse by having members go to various events on campus, especially in the earlier months of the school year.”

President of Kappa Delta Rho, Ryan Giallonardo ’20, echoed Cirra: “We don’t want to be the enemy at Bucknell, and we truly do want to work with everyone at the university to create a better environment as a whole.” 

Additionally, Speak UP, a University group dedicated to eradicating sexual assault on the campus, stressed the group’s objective of educating students within the Greek community on sexual assault prevention. Speak UP began offering the Fraternity and Sorority Ally training program in 2014, which empowers students to create lasting cultural change. Nevertheless, Speak UP acknowledged that sexual assault is not limited to Greek Life. “These issues (sexual assault, racism, homophobia) exist out of the context of Greek Life and Bucknell. These are issues that exist in society in general. There has to be some recognition that the administration of Bucknell can’t get rid of racism or racists (as an example). I think Speak UP does a good job of facilitating discussion about the issues,” Speak UP member Alex Akoundi ’21 said.

“Working together, our community has made significant progress in these areas in particular, but there is, without question, much left to do. There are any number of outlets for students to engage with the administration on making continued improvements in these areas,” Hirsch said.

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