Wow, great blog prompt. Big ups to the previous blog council for coming up with this! On a serious note, this is quite an important topic and the decisions made now will affect the direction this school goes in the future. When the Campus Climate report first came out in 2011, there were fierce reactions from students, faculty, and alumni. Let’s start with the alumni reaction as their opinions arguably matter the most due to their potential to give back to the school.
When the report was published, I remember going on Facebook or some other social media site where the report was published. Following the report was a 6 page long thread of Bucknell alum commenting on the report and offering their stances. The way I saw it, there were two camps. One group saw the report as something that was addressing an issue that has existed since the inception of Bucknell. In essence, nothing has changed to warrant such a report; it’s always been this way at any college. On the other side, you had people that were outraged at how the campus had supposedly taken a turn for the worst. Now, as a student here for a another month or so, I can confidently say that there are many things wrong with this campus. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved every minute of my time here. However, sometimes I wonder if I have loved my time here because I am at Bucknell or because I am simply in college…
I have read many posts so far supporting the Greek system and highlighting the positives it has on students and the University as a whole. However, it has some major flaws the way it is currently structured. Before going into my experience with Greek Life, let me begin by saying my favorite year by far at Bucknell was freshmen year. I met so many new people and had the time of my life. There were so many opportunities to meet new people which I feel don’t exist anymore outside the first couple weeks of rush. Between First Night, Orientation, and hall events, I truly felt like I belonged to a community. The best thing about my freshmen experience was that there was no social ladder or social hierarchy. There were no Greek affiliations. Rather, you were grouped by what dorm you lived in or what hall you were on. No one was pre-judged. More importantly, everyone was a Bucknellian; we were all in it together. Fast-forward to sophomore year. Nearly everyone rushes. Students are placed in different social groups. This has two effects. One, the students in the same social groups form a unique bond with each other. And two, the different groups distance themselves from one another. There is no link between the varying social groups. Not exactly the same recipe for community and unity that we had freshmen year.
I really think that establishing the class unity and the pride in being a Bucknellian that existed freshmen year is key to solving some of the problems highlighted in the report. It needs to be present during all 4 years. Excessive drinking, sexual assault, lack of involvement in campus life…I feel these issues would be improved if students looked out for one another like they were family, like it was when everyone was a Bucknellian that first year here. As seniors now, there are attempts to rekindle the closeness our class had freshmen year. But what about the years in between?
I really think this school can be improved without eradicating the Greek system completely. The challenge in the coming years will be finding a balance. For the record, I did go Greek and loved it. But I loved the class bonding and and lack of social hierarchy from freshmen year much, much more.