‘Philadelphia Inquirer’ on Bucknell Bake Sale Fiasco

By June 23, 2009

The top story in the local section of today’s Philadelphia Inquirer print edition explores Bucknell University’s decision to bar a conservative student group from hosting an affirmative action bake sale on campus. FIRE first wrote to Bucknell on May 21 and issued a press release condemning the school’s actions on June 11 after having received no response from the school.

As today’s Inquirer story explains, Bucknell’s hostility to core political speech involves more than just the shutting down of the bake sale event:

In March, the club complained that the administration shut down another of its activities – passing out anti-stimulus handbills that blared "The Socialist State of America" on the front with President Obama’s face. On the back, the fake dollar bills read: "Obama’s stimulus plan makes your money as worthless as Monopoly money."

That incident and the bake sale prompted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) to get involved.

"We want everyone around Bucknell to know that Bucknell is not a place that respects students’ rights," said FIRE’s Adam Kissel.

The Philadelphia Inquirer piece quotes Bucknell administrators who, amazingly, do nothing more than continue to trumpet the same false arguments and post-facto justifications that Robert successfully refuted on The Torch last week.

The irony, as today’s story points out, is that many other colleges and universities have been able to hold events like the ones at issue at Bucknell without incident. The article highlights one such example at Kutztown University in 2006:

Kutztown University in 2006 allowed one of the bake sales. The university also permitted protesters of the event to demonstrate. And later, it sponsored a forum on affirmative action.

"It was a teachable moment, an opportunity to learn from one another and engage in the freedom of expression," said Jesus Pena, associate vice president for equity and compliance at Kutztown. "That’s what we in institutions of higher learning should be promoting."

We couldn’t agree more. I hope you will join me in making that exact point to the Bucknell administration by contacting them via our action center.

The article mentions that Bucknell President Brian C. Mitchell has already received over one hundred letters, e-mails, and phone calls over this issue. Add your voice to the growing list of concerned citizens and Bucknell alumni who have demanded that the school deliver on its promises of free speech on campus.

Schools: Bucknell University Cases: Bucknell University: University Slams Door on Student Satires of Obama Stimulus Plan and Affirmative Action