At Pennsylvania’s Bucknell University, a sector of students is racially aggrieved. And the group is making its demands noisily known.
The Lewisburg private liberal arts college was founded in 1846. To hear some tell it, circumstances haven’t substantially changed.
The school boasts a Black Student Union, the Executive Board of which recently issued a letter to Bucknell Board of Trustees President John Bravman. Per the February 17th missive, the campus racial climate “is not much different from the Bucknell of the past.”
The BSU looks back…
In the spring of 1985, a group of concerned Black Bucknellians…publicly delivered A Black Student Manifesto. In this letter, they identified institutional racism as the enemy of our university and called on Bucknell to take…urgent action against this vicious and insidious phenomenon.
Evidently, the document didn’t manifest much explanation; still, the Black Student Union knows things are much the same:
[The Manifesto describes] the racial conditions of this campus with scant detail; though, it takes nothing but a quick glance to conclude that the Bucknell of our present is not much different from the Bucknell of the past.
Statistical proof is provided:
The most glaring example of this is [that A Black Manifesto] called on the university to increase Black enrollment to five percent by 1990. It’s been nearly 40 years, and as of fall of 2022, Black students make up approximately four percent of the university’s total undergraduates.
“Similar to [their] forewriters,” members of the BSU Executive Board are “committed to a continuous struggle against” the “unrelenting anti-blackness” on campus.
Symptoms of the current KKK-ish condition: the “willful and egregious disregard, consumption, exploitation, and spirit-murder of Black students and faculty that occurs on these yards.”
To battle that bigotry, ten demands are being made:
- The inclusion of a racial climate survey in all end-of-semester course evaluations. A subsequent report must be released.
- Bi-annual Campus Climate Meetings on “Black campus life.”
- An exchange program with Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
- The launch of an Office for Black Student Development — with “ample funding to increase Black students’ enrollment, retention, completion, graduation, and successful transfer.”
- The hiring of a Development Officer “whose sole responsibility is…raising funds for Black Students’ recruitment and retention efforts.”
- The appointment of a Black Student Union member to the Bucknell Student Government Finance Committee. The BSU Executive Board will help select that representative.
- Black Greek fraternity representation on campus plots, benches, trees, etc.
- The creation of a Black Student Affairs Committee, functioning separately from the already-established Diversity Affairs Congressional Committee.
- The placement of at least one Bucknell University Endowed Chair in every academic department “focused on issues of relevance to Black lives and culture with structural analysis, and demonstrated experience of training, mentoring and service in [the areas of teaching and research].” These appointments must be approved by a BSU special committee.
- More black-only student housing.
It appears as if the BSU might prefer to simply have its own school. Either way — without question — these days, racial identity is king:
America has radically changed, and colleges have followed suit. Or perhaps the country’s universities have led the charge. Regardless, not long ago, racial unity seemed our mission. Recently, institutions have informed us that was wrong. We’re presently told people should be viewed according to race. What will be the impact? We’ll surely soon find out.
As for radical racism at Bucknell University, will meeting the BSU’s demands bring to fruition fairness and frivolity? Doubtfully; if ten steps were all it took, utopia would likely have long ago been reached.
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