Liposuction Ad in Bucknell Student Newspaper Causes Faculty to Complain to School’s President

An advertisement for new liposuction technology run in a recent issue of The Bucknellian at Bucknell University apparently stirred controversy among students, faculty, and staff.  According to the paper, some profs. even voiced complaints to the president of the central Pennsylvania private school.

The ad, displayed below, is for something called VASER Lipo.  It’s apparently “the newest, minimally invasive option in body contouring . . . [helping] shed those troublesome spots that diet and exercise don’t seem to touch.”

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The concerns of some Bucknellian readers seem to center not only on the ad itself, but its sponsor: Geisinger Health System.  As the Feminist Philosophers blog explains, “Geisinger runs Bucknell University’s student health services.  So, as one of our readers puts it, ‘[T]his is a case of a hospital charged with guarding the health of students promoting to those same students liposuction.'”

As a separate reader asks on the Bucknellian Facbeook page, “What’s with the Geisinger liposuction ad?  Don’t enough Bucknell students already have body-image problems?  Doesn’t seem a wise or healthy choice of advertising.”

So was it actually unwise, a tad icky or even medically dangerous to run the ad? Bucknellian editor-in-chief Madison Lane argues it was A-OK, for two big reasons. First, it comes from a known source.  As she wrote in an editorial response earlier this week, “The Bucknellian is not going to censor information from our own university’s health services, or anyone that they have chosen to partner with.  These are figures that we should trust, if we are going to trust anyone.”

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In addition, according to Lane, whether Bucknell staff like it or not, the paper’s student readers are of legal age.  In her words, “As an adult, it is a college student’s decision as to whether or not they want liposuction, just like it is their decision whether or not they want to go to a bar or a tanning salon, both of which we have run ads for in the past and gotten no backlash for. . . . If the faculty had looked a little closer at the page, they would see that the liposuction ad is placed next to two ads for bars and cheesesteaks. The Bucknellian does not have a bias here. We don’t mind if people want to go to a bar and consume their weight in sirloin steaks and beer. We don’t mind if a student wants to get liposuction.”

What Lane does mind is the manner in which faculty expressed their lipo-gripes, bypassing the Bucknellian and going straight to the school president.  She also leveled criticism against administrators for their similar “lack of communication with the students and this student newspaper” about the issue.

Lane: “At the end of the day, the Bucknellian staff is comprised of a group of mature, responsible and logical adults.  We can defend our choices.  We ask to be treated like the adults that we are expected to be, and we strive to give the same respect to our readers and peers.”

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