Students: Butler not diverse

About 51 percent of students disagree that Butler University is diverse,  according to results from a new survey by  Student Affairs.

About 37 percent somewhat disagreed that Butler is diverse, and 14 percent strongly disagreed with that statement.

The survey gauged Butler’s diversity and students’ perspective on campus atmosphere.

There were 527 students who participated in the poll. Seventy percent were women and 29 percent were men.

A fifth to a quarter of each class was represented, according to the study.

Student Government Association President-Elect Mike Keller said this is because people only think of diversity as involving race.

“Diversity is a broad definition,” Keller said. “It was intended for broader areas other than race.”

Dean of Student Life Irene Stevens oversees the committee responsible for assessing the data. She said there are a number of things the campus can improve upon.

“We need to diversify campus more through admissions, and then help individuals take advantage of cultural-related activities,” Stevens said. “When students get into the real world it’s a lot more diverse than Butler.”

Stevens said everyone has the ability to act as an ambassador for the university, which will help diversify campus.

“Students, faculty and staff are all involved in encouraging diversity,” Stevens said.

Keller said there are two areas responsible for addressing these issues: admissions and organizations on campus.

“Admissions can target more people from diverse backgrounds,” Keller said. “R.E.A.C.H. and SGA are responsible for highlighting different cultures, which comes from programming.”

Twenty-eight percent of respondents participated in diversity-related activities, which were labeled a main point in the survey’s conclusion.

Freshman pharmacy major Eric Chen said as a minority student he has not attended a “diversity-related” activity because he said it brings attention to students’ minority status.

“I think these activities make minorities feel uncomfortable,” Chen said. “The best way to make a minority student feel comfortable is to treat them as any other person.

“Minorities don’t need any preferential treatment.”

Stevens said the administration is meeting with SGA over the summer to address the findings. Focus groups will also be formed to further explore students’ perspectives, Stevens said.

Keller said the low participation in diversity-related activities is due to the target audience of R.E.A.C.H.’s programming.

“People assume diversity programming is only for minorities,” Keller said. “Next year we will try to market it to a broader audience.”

One of the areas of greatest improvement was the number of respondents who described the university as “welcoming.”

Eighty percent of respondents said Butler is “very welcoming,” which is a 6 percent improvement from 2009.

Stevens said this is due to what she described as the university’s “culture of respect.”

“We want to create a university that’s welcoming,” Stevens said. “We expect that from all of Butler University.”

Politically, the survey found most students to be moderates, followed by conservatives and liberals, with 43 percent, 30 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

Keller said it is SGA’s responsibility to encourage political discussion on campus.

“Campus is stronger when people are talking,” Keller said. “We need political discussion.”

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