Last Thursday, May 13, 2012, twenty male students, ex-fraternity seniors at Bucknell College, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, tried to storm into Tower House, a Fran’s House affinity for LGBTQ students. Formerly, a Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity that was closed in 2019 due to underage drinking, the residence is now gender-neutral housing. The rowdy students, chanting “let us in! This Isn’t Your Home” banged on the doors and windows, urinated on the front porch, swung a metal bar at the flagpole that displays a PRIDE flag.
To make matters worse, The University Police sided with the revelers and laughed at the situation, according to Resident Advisor Tyler Luong who wrote the Bucknell President, John Bravman. Not only were the residents of Tower House afraid and intimidated because the rioters were attempting to break in, but they were humiliated.
The University in a statement said “it was outraged and sorrowful.” Administration has hired an outside firm to look into the egregious behavior and provide a full report, including investigating the Public and Safety’s Response (or lack of). “The Public safety officers will undergo further education and professional development,” according to President John Bravman, Provost Elizabeth Merman-Jozwiak and Nikki Young, the Assistant Provost for equity and inclusive excellence and the students with be made accountable for their actions.
The Daily Item newspaper reported that Bravman said “we are both outraged and sorrowful that residents endured violation of their space that is critically important to them as a community.” Fran’s House residents wrote a letter to the Bucknell community to thank them for their support, adding “never again should someone feel entitled to come to our house and say it’s their house, and not ours.”
This case was not unlike the investigation by the Department of Justice into the S. Dakota incident during which pro-Trump staged a co-ordinated attack on an LGBTQ organization during Homecoming week. The School did nothing to stop it.
The attempted take-over at Bucknell also reminded me of Trump’s supporters trying to get into the Capitol on January 6, 2021. However, they were successful at entering The Washington symbol of Justice!
Lambda Legal says “everyone deserves an education free from harassment, discrimination and violence.” Yet bullying persists. The Trevor Project’s Third Annual National Survey on LGBTQ Mental Health that interviewed 35,000 youth, ages 13 and 24, reported that 42% had seriously considered attempting suicide within the past twelve months, with more than half identifying as trans or nonbinary youth.
Bucknell College is selective. In 2020, the acceptance rate was 34.2%. The college is ranked 34 in national liberal arts college by U.S. News and World Report. Half of the applicants admitted to Bucknell have an SAT score between 1255 and 1430 or an ACT score of 28 and 32. It’s an expensive private college.
What should the punishment be for these entitled seniors? Expulsion? Lack of graduation degree? With inciting to riot, trespassing, destroying property on their records, their futures look dim. Should the college do more than try to educate the Campus Police? Maybe fire them?
And the trauma experienced by the LGBT students? When will that go away?
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.