By Nicole Briggs
On Sept. 7, President John Bravman released the results of a year-long Campus Climate Task Force Report. The 68-page report comments on a variety of campus issues such as excessive alcohol consumption, dominance of fraternities and sororities and lack of intellectual discussions taking place outside of the classroom. The report concluded with a list of recommendations for the future that addressed these issues.
On Tuesday, Sept. 13, a forum was held in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts for the entire University community to discuss the findings. On Wednesday, Sept. 14, another forum, Students’ Open Forum on Campus Climate, was held with only students on the panel.
Bravman began the session on Tuesday by stating that it is often difficult to admit to faults in the University.
“This report presents many challenges to us. It challenges our students and organizations, it challenges our faculty, and it even challenges me,” Bravman said. He then proceeded to introduce members of the task force, including co-chairs George Shields, Dean of Arts and Sciences, and Beth Evans, associate professor of biology and animal behavior. After some explanatory remarks, they opened the forum up to its attendees, who were primarily students.
Most of the hour was taken up with comments from numerous University students of different gender, race and beliefs. Students spoke on issues ranging from the intellectual environment to campus diversity. The two most-discussed issues were sexual violence and the portrayal of Greek life in the report.
“If you take away the Greek system, you take away all the leadership positions it provides,” Sam Hopkins ’12 said.
Comments on the Greek system were both positive and negative. Some cited the variety of philanthropic events hosted by Greek chapters and the atmosphere of community and togetherness. Others discussed the perpetuation of gender roles as well as the exclusivity and secrecy that the institution thrives on.
One of the other issues presented was sexual violence on campus. Everyone who spoke seemed to agree there needs to be changes, whether it be more education or harsher punishments.
“You can teach girls to say ‘no’ a million times, but if you don’t teach men to respect it they’ll have to keep saying it. And therein lies the problem,” Clark Bogle ’12 said.
The second forum on Wednesday was led by Bucknell Student Government president Phil Kim ’12.
“The discussion today is primarily meant for students to be able to voice not only their thoughts, but suggestions,” Kim said.
Evans and Shields gave some remarks, this time on the purpose behind the formation of the task force itself.
“We wanted to assess what it’s like to be here outside of the classroom,” Evans said.
Once again the forum was open to comments, but this time they were directed to the eight members of the Committee on Student Engagement. In addition to the students speaking at the forum, statements were also made through an anonymous online comment box.
The tone of this forum was slightly different from the first. Students told stories about why they either agree or disagree with comments made in the report. One student discussed his own personal struggle with alcoholism, what keeps him sober, and understanding the real problems students have with binge drinking.
Again, many people chose to remark on the impact of Greek life on the campus climate. This time, it was more about how being in a fraternity or a sorority has changed students for the better.
“Greek life helped save my life,” said Damon Quattrochi ’12, who recovered from a rough first year with the help of what he referred to as his “non-legal family.”
The other strong opinion that came out in both forums was the need for a good alternative to Greek life that provides the same opportunities of living environments and common experiences.
Overall, the forums’ wide attendance and the strong opinions expressed in them are a good start to discussions that could help Provost Smyer and Dean Lantz decide on a course of action.
Anyone with more comments on the Campus Climate Task Force Report can email email@example.com or make an anonymous comment at www.bucknell.edu/BSG.