University condemns ‘horrific incident’ after mob of students tried to break into LGBT+ safe space

Emma Powys Maurice May 15, 2021
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Bucknell University

Pennsylvania's Bucknell University has launched an investigation into the ‘horrifying’ incident on campus (Education Images/Universal Images/Getty)

Pennsylvania’s Bucknell University is investigating a gang of male students who allegedly tried to break into an on-campus LGBT+ house and harass its residents.

Tyler Luong, a student and residential adviser for the LGBT+ home known as Fran’s House, said nearly 20 former members of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity attempted to break in late on Thursday night (13 May).

The students allegedly yelled “Let us in,” “This isn’t your home,” and “This is our home” as they banged on the windows and doors, swung a metal bar at the pole that displays their Pride flag, exposed themselves, and urinated on the front porch.

“I saw one of my residents holding down the window, while a bunch of silhouettes stood menacingly on the other side,” Luong wrote to the university’s president, John Bravman.

“Can you possibly imagine seeing the fear that was in the eyes of my residents? Because it wasn’t imagination for me.

“Tell me President Bravman, what would I do if they had managed to get into our home?” he asked. “President Bravman, I was never trained to handle breaking and enterings.”

Named for Fran McDaniel, the late director of the university’s LGBT+ office, Fran’s House provides LGBT-friendly, gender-neutral accommodation and a safe space for queer students on campus.

With the mob yelling outside, the residents called for the university’s public safety officers, but Luong says they took too long to show up and were far from sympathetic when they did.

“When public safety arrived, they laughed at the situation,” Luong wrote. Shockingly, the officers are said to have “bonded” with the alleged offenders, “reminiscing their college days and calling them handsome young men”.

“President Bravman, the two officers didn’t even speak to me,” he said. “Neither of the two officers came up to us Fran’s House residents to ask if we were okay.

“And then they promised to talk to the chief of public safety to get them access to our house when finals week was over, shaking each and every one of their hands.”

One student said on Instagram that they “always felt relatively safe being an out queer person” at Bucknell, but Thursday night’s attack made them feel “incredibly unsafe”.

“The men who committed a literal crime took away the one place on this campus where LGBT+ students feel safe, and were not held accountable in the slightest,” they said.

The incident was condemned by Bravman and two other top university administrators in a campus-wide letter the following day.

“We are both outraged and sorrowful that the residents endured this violation of the space that is so critically important to them as a community,” the letter read. “These actions will not be tolerated.”

The president continued: “It is clear from multiple accounts that the students violated the physical space and, far more importantly, the residents’ sense of place and security. Further, it is equally clear that Bucknell public safety’s response to the incident was lacking in myriad ways.”

Bravman said the university is “gravely concerned” about the potential violations of the student code of conduct and has retained an outside firm to conduct an immediate investigation.

There will also be an external investigation into the safety officers’ response, with the promise that the university “will implement corrective and disciplinary measures as appropriate”.

“We cannot erase the ugliness and subsequent trauma of last night’s transgression against the students of Fran’s House and, implicitly, many others, but we can commit to addressing it in a way that protects LGBT+ Bucknellians and better ensures their safety in the future,” he concluded.

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