New commission hopes to promote diversity

Natalie Smith | Staff Reporter

 

Butler University President James Danko created a new campus Diversity Commission in order to address topics surronding diversity on campus.

Last week, President Danko sent an email to the Butler community about the newly-formed faculty group.

The commission is assessing the previous programs put in place to improve campus diversity.

The new commission feels  the previous programs did not finish every goal they had, said Levester Johnson, co-chair of the new commission and vice president of student affairs.

“The other programs we had did great things and had great progress, but we want to bring in more diversity to the student body,” Johnson said.

Previous programs focused on bringing more diverse faculty to campus.

“Diversity in faculty has risen to 18 percent, but that didn’t do a lot for student diversity,” Johnson said. “There’s always room for more improvement.”

Other commissions on campus include the Gender Equity Commission, to help improve gender issues on campus.

The Diversity Commission hopes to address many areas of diversity, not just one.

Their current assessment of programs includes looking at demographic info, human resources policies and sensitivity training.

The commission’s compilation of faculty members will read articles and books relating to diversity policies and university diversity.

“Part of this process is looking at programs from other universities to see what has and what hasn’t worked,” Johnson said. “Overall, we want to create a community of growth that comes from working with different people. We want to make sure that Butler students are the best they can be.”

Butler students can weigh in on needing diversity programs on campus.

Isabella Ferrari, a freshman with Italian, Chinese and Latin heritage, volunteers at the Diversity Center. Ferrari said she sees some rift between students of different races and ethnicities, but she thinks that’s mostly natural.

“I feel very accepted here, but there’s definitely a divide of ethnic students,” Ferrari said. “People just naturally go to their comfortable fallback.”

Other students are critical of the current ethnic makeup, saying diversity should be more present in all areas of campus life.

“We’re all accepting, but we definitely have a low amount diversity, and a lot of it comes from athletics,” sophomore Madeline Schmitz said. “And while I think that’s great, I would like to see more diversity in  regular students.”

Both Schmitz and Ferrari agree Butler should focus on student interactions and hold meet-and-greets and other get-togethers for students to embrace others.

“Some students feel intimidated going into the Diversity Center,” Schmitz said. “Diversity should be brought to the campus as a whole.”

The commission hopes to involve students in its work by having one student come on board and be a full-fledged member. Such a student has yet to be appointed.

“We are very intentional about getting students and community members involved,” Johnson said.

The commission will meet at least once a month. Students will be kept informed on the commission’s progress and decisions each semester. Informing outlets are still being determined.

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