3 Bucknell U. students expelled for racist comments during a student radio broadcast

PENNSYLVANIA — Three Bucknell University students were expelled on Monday for making racist comments during a live broadcast on the student radio.

A disc jockey for WVBU, the student radio station at the private liberal arts college in central Pennsylvania, and his two guests were on the air on March 20 when they used “racist and violent language,” Bucknell University President John Bravman said on Thursday in an email to students, faculty and staff.

University spokesman Andy Hirsch said administrators heard about the comments last week after an inmate at a local prison complained to a prisoner advocacy group, who then contacted a faculty member.

WVBU adviser James Lee, who did not respond to a telephone call or an email requesting comment, was notified of the complaint on Wednesday, Hirsch said.

Hirsch said the three students were suspended on Thursday and expelled on Monday following a three-day investigation. Hirsch declined to release the students’ names.

Bravman sent an email to faculty on Monday about the expulsion, which included the students’ comments. When one student said “niggers,” a second student said “black people should be dead,” and the third student said “lynch ‘em.”

Hirsch said the three students failed “to act in a manner that reflects maturity, social responsibility and respect toward the person and property of others,” which is a violation of the student code of conduct. The students were expelled under administrative action, which allows university administrators to take action against a student without a formal disciplinary hearing if the student proves a threat to the well-being of the university community.

Hirsch said the students were talking about basketball when they made the comments, adding that the context to the speech “is almost irrelevant” because it would not be appropriate in any context.

“When we’re talking about comments and speech that involve hate speech that’s interfering with the rights of others,” Hirsch said, “then we’re left with no choice but to take appropriate action, and that’s what we did.”

Contact SPLC staff writer Mariana Viera by email or at (202) 478-1926.