By Courtney Flagg
African American students have become the target of racial slurs on campus in the past few months, most recently on Monday, January 25.
According to students present at the incident and several administrators, at approximately 5 p.m. on Jan. 25 two men in a turquoise pick-up truck drove by an African American student, shouted a derogatory racial slur and drove away.
"Incidents like this one are an affront to Bucknell, and they will not be tolerated. The language involved and the threatening climate it creates are an insult not only to the student at whom this slur was directed but also to the values of our University," University President Brian C. Mitchell said in a statement about the incident Wednesday.
Students and faculty are troubled by the incident.
"I am always offended and hurt when acts of bias and discrimination are directed at members of our community. Having been a target of similar harassment, I know how hurtful and frightening these incidents can be," said Provost Robert Midkiff.
Chief of Public Safety Jason Friedberg said his department was informed of the incident approximately a week after it took place. He echoed Midkiff's view of the incident.
"The University is generally a very accepting place and it's difficult to look at the community in this light," said Friedberg.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. A witness at the scene of the crime said that issues similar to this one happen much more frequently than they may appear.
Black Student Union President Marissa Calhoun '10 said that she, along with her fellow students, are "more hurt and frustrated than they are angry."
"Sometimes students say things as a joke when actually they are quite painful," said a second student who has been targeted by racial slurs in the past. "It starts off as solely verbal, but it leads us to think 'what's next?' The University is supposed to be a safe place. I'm not supposed to be worried about racial attacks."
Although it is an important issue, faculty and students believe that this incident should motivate people to act differently.
"It is not important for us dwell on this matter in such a way that prohibits us from looking onward. Rather, we should feel charged and obligated to do something about racial hatred on our campus," Calhoun said.
Many campus administrators and officials feel that something positive may yet come out of this incident.
"It's important we try to turn these despicable events into teachable moments and that everyone be reminded that when one person is targeted we are all targeted," said Dean of Students Susan Hopp.
Many students are less worried about what the University plans to do and more so with what the University actually will do to combat the racial hatred that is evident on campus.
President Mitchell recently issued a public statement saying that the University plans to provide "educational opportunities" to address the issue.
Calhoun emphasized the community aspect that the University is so proud of.
"Each of us make up the quilt of Bucknell University, if you remove or ignore parts of that quilt you will miss the complete picture; the story won't be complete. Thus, it is time for us to address these concerns in a productive way instead of 'rugging' the issue as if it does not exist," she said.