Bucknell University condemns ‘horrific incident’ against LGBTQ student community and orders investigation

Bucknell University condemned a “horrific incident” against the LGBTQ student community that occurred last week and announced investigations are underway.

In a Friday statement, university officials in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, said a group of male students approached the Fran’s House student residence — also known as Tower House — on Thursday night and allegedly “harassed and intimidated” residents while trying to enter the building.

According to the university’s website, Fran’s House provides gender-neutral housing and “serves as a safe place for LGBTQ+ individuals and allies.”

That evening, the house was instead a place of fear, said Fran House residential adviser Tyler Luong in a letter to university President John Bravman.

Luong said the harassment came from nearly 20 former members of a fraternity that once was based in the building. Compounding the horror was a late and lacking response from campus public safety officials, he wrote.

Luong said the assailants banged on windows and doors, swung a metal bar at a flag pole that displays a pride flag and urinated on the front porch.

“They yelled, ‘Let us in!’, ‘This isn’t your home!’, ‘This is our home!'” he wrote.

The building formerly housed the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity until two years ago, when the group was removed, university officials said in their statement.

The fraternity no longer formally exists at the university or is recognized as a student organization and has been banned from campus operation, officials said. Bucknell, in an anti-hazing report, said it terminated recognition of the chapter in 2019 amid allegations of underage drinking, the use of dog shock collars on members and other activity that could lead to bodily injury.

CNN reached out Monday to the national TKE office for comment.

“It is clear from multiple accounts that the students violated the physical space and, far more importantly, the residents’ sense of place and security,” the university statement said. “Further, it is equally clear that Bucknell Public Safety’s response to the incident was lacking in myriad ways.”

In his letter, Luong said safety officers did not arrive in a timely manner. And when they did, he claims, they laughed at the situation.

“The officers bonded with our offenders, reminiscing their college days and calling them handsome young men. President Bravman, the two officers didn’t even speak to me. Neither of the two officers came up to us Fran’s House residents to ask if we were okay.”

Officials said they were “gravely concerned” about potential violations of the student code of conduct and announced they hired a third party firm to conduct an investigation and submit a report to the college administration. They did not describe the assailants.

Based on those findings, the university will implement “appropriate consequences,” the statement said.

An outside firm is investigating the Bucknell Public Safety’s response and the administration “will implement corrective and disciplinary measures as appropriate,” the university said. Public safety officers will undergo further educational and professional development to “foster a better sense of safety and belonging for all members of the Bucknell community,” it added.

“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 LGBTQ Bucknellians and better ensures their safety in the future,” university officials said Friday.

In a statement posted on the Fran’s House Facebook page, residents asked the university to establish Tower House as the permanent residence for the LGBTQ+ community.

“Never again should someone feel entitled to come to our home and say it’s ‘their house and not ours,'” the statement read.

The statement said the public safety officers and other individuals involved in the “abhorrent” incident need to be held accountable.

“Fran’s House residents will provide full compliance to the independent investigation occurring, and hope we will be adequately represented when the university makes decisions based on this outcome.”

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