University in Pennsylvania condemns ‘horrific’ attack against LGBT+ students by ex members of banned fraternity

Nearly 20 men, reportedly ex members of Bucknell University’s banned chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, allegedly attacked an LGBT+ housing unit on Thursday

Alice Hutton
Tuesday 18 May 2021 20:39 BST
Attacks against the LGBT+ community are considered a hate crime in the US. Pictured are protesters shouting ‘no hate’ outside the Stonewall Inn in New York city.
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A university in Pennsylvania has launched an investigation following a “horrific” attack on LGBT+ students allegedly carried out by former members of a banned fraternity.

On Thursday night, nearly 20 men, who were reportedly former members of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity at Bucknell University, in Lewisburg, launched an assault on their old building, two years after the organisation was shut down in 2019 over hazing, including the use of dog collars on new members.

The mantra of the national fraternity, which was founded in 1899 at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois, is: “Better men for a better world.”

Fran’s House, also known as Tower House, had subsequently become gender-neutral housing as well as “a safe place for LGBTQ+ individuals and allies”.

Residents were reportedly “harassed and intimidated” by nearly two dozen men who are accused of attempting to get into the building, attacking a Pride flag and urinating on the steps whilst shouting: “Let us in!, This isn’t your home!, This is our home!”.

Pictured are members of Fran’s House, also known as Tower House, a gender neutral housing facility at Bucknell University, which was allegedly attacked by ex members of a banned fraternity
Pictured are members of Fran’s House, also known as Tower House, a gender neutral housing facility at Bucknell University, which was allegedly attacked by ex members of a banned fraternity (Facebook/Fran’s House)

Tyler Luong, a Fran House residential adviser, reportedly wrote in a letter to the university’s president, John Bravman, that he felt the university’s campus public safety officials were “slow to respond”, as reported by CNN.

He also claimed that when they arrived “they laughed at the situation”.

He wrote: “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.”

In a statement the university condemned the attack as “horrific” and said they had hired a third-party firm to investigate breaches of the student code of conduct.

They said: “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.”

They 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.”

In a statement posted on the Fran’s House Facebook page, residents asked the university to protect the building as a permanent LGBT+ space.

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

A spokesman for Bucknell University told The Independent: “TKE ceased operations at its Bucknell University Chapter two years ago. We hope those who attacked the Fran House at Bucknell are held accountable. No one deserves to feel less than. These acts of intolerance don’t align with our Fraternity or any Greek-letter organization. We stand in love and solidarity with members of the LGBTQ community who are dynamic and valued members of our TKE family.”

The Independent has reached out to Tau Kappa Epsilon’s national division for comment.

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