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Gay Safe Space at Bucknell University Attacked by Student Mob

Sunday May 16, 2021
Originally published on May 16, 2021

The LGBTQ Fran's House residents
The LGBTQ Fran's House residents  (Source:Facebook)

Officials at Bucknell University are investigating an incident involving a gang of male students who allegedly tried to break into the school's on-campus LGBTQ house to harass its residents, reports Pink News.

On May 13 Tyler Luong, a student and residential adviser for the LGBTQ home Fran's House, said that 20 former members of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity attempted to break into the residents.

The home, named after the university's late director Fran McDaniel, is used to provide housing for LGBTQ and gender-neutral people, functioning as a safe space for queer students.

Bucknell is a small private liberal arts college in Lewisburg.

"Fran's House is the center of student life for the university's LGBTQ community. Currently located at Tower House, it previously housed the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity until the group was removed two years ago," reports BuzzFeed News. That organization is no longer recognized by the university after a 2019 investigation into hazing that found fraternity members had "slapped and threw darts at members and even used 'dog shock collars' on them."

On Instagram, the Queer Bucknell posted a statement, that read in part: "While it should never have been tested in this way, the Fran's House community has and continues to show courage and support for one another. Past, present and future, they are a source of PRIDE for our campus.

"Thank you to all who have and will reach out. Knowing the breadth of support, I hope, will hasten the return of safety for the residents of Fran's House - but time to heal and feel safe in their home will be needed," the statement reads.

Luong described the event in a public letter the university's president John Bravman on May 14 that described the event and the behavior of the campus police when they arrived on the scene. "President Bravman," he wrote, "the officers bonded with our offenders, reminiscing their college days and calling them handsome young men."

In his letter Luong described the attack: "All of my residents were shouting for me to come to the bathroom, and when I arrived, I saw one of my residents holding down the window, while a bunch of silhouettes stood menacingly on the other side."

"Let us in!", "This isn't your home!, "This is our home!," he says shouted the nearly 20 former Tau Kappa Epsilon members as they "banged against our windows and doors, swinging a metal bar at our flag pole that displays our pride flag, and urinating on our front porch. They FLASHED one of my residents. Tell me President Bravman, what would I do if they had managed to get into our home? President Bravman, I was never trained to handle breaking and enterings."

Luong called the local security force, known as the Public Safety Emergency. Then the attackers appeared to leave, only to have four of them return to confront Luong and four Fran' House residents on the lawn. When Public Safety Emergency officers did arrive (not in a timely manner, Luong says), they didn't speak with him or ask about the safety of the Fran's House residents. They also promised the young men that they would speak to a school agency to, as Luong wrote in all caps: "GET THEM ACCESS TO OUR HOUSE WHEN FINALS WEEK WAS OVER, SHAKING EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEIR HANDS." (The "access" reference was to the fact that the fraternity had previously occupied the space.)

Luong added: "As a student, how can I call them Public Safety when they arrived late to the scene, and then ENABLED that behavior?! Why am I required to call Public Safety during emergencies if they make light of an emergency? President Bravman, there was no safety."

Luong also says he needed to ask twice to receive a business card from the officers. "Is it within the policy for Public Safety to completely ignore the ones who reported the crime?"

He ended his letter by asking the president: "Is the school going to allow them to graduate and let them represent what Bucknell stands for?"

Pink News reports that 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.

On Thursday, Fran's House posted a statement about the event on Facebook. .