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Diversity: By Way of Bucknell

John Bravman supports diversity, no doubt. But,

John Bravman doesn’t get diversity. One might say he doesn’t get the passage of time either.

On Tuesday, the Faculty were called upon to endorse a Strategic Plan for the future of Bucknell. The vote won by a margin of 185:75. 75 voices dissented. Some of this dissent was captured in an open letter that 44 faculty (including 21 untenured faculty) signed.

The President expressed frustration and disbelief that in 2006 a similar plan crafted by a small group won unanimous support, but the 2019 version that involved several faculty, many meetings, “open forums”, and “office hours” encountered so much dissent.

So what happened between 2006 and 2019 that might merit such an enormous change in attitudes? Since such things, that should be obvious, aren’t, I’ll lay it out.

1. Bucknell faculty got a lot more diverse: this, the President is certainly proud of. What he seems to have missed is that diversity is not just black, brown, and female bodies. The minds are black, and brown, and female too. Their lived experiences make them perceive the world differently, and value different ideals. Ideals of equality, transparency, and democracy. They will not stand for the same old. The same old patriarchy. The same old hierarchy.

2. Time passed, and the world changed: the changing faculty body is evidently more tuned to transgressions of fundamental human rights, flouting of democratic ideals, bigotry, sexism, and other forms of discrimination, and environmental violence, because of the changing world they inhabit. They are willing to stand up. They are aware that Bucknell is but a microcosm of the larger world. That choices are always political. That silence is complicity.

On Tuesday, the President of Bucknell University failed to recognize any of this. Instead, he made a plea for everybody to ignore the voices of some of the most engaged and diverse faculty on this campus in favor of those who were invited to participate. In favor of those who complied. In favor of comfort.

And 185 faculty agreed.

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