Letter to the Editor: Black Student Union addresses lack of black staff members

Photo Courtesy of the Black Student Union

Dear Editor of the Collegian,

We, the Black Student Union Executive Board, would like to address the trend of Black staff leaving Butler University as an inhibition of student success at this institution. Across multiple departments, approximately 20 Black staff members have left the university in the past three years. Most recently, two advisors of the Black Student Union have left the university. The lack of Black staff is an attack against the few Black students and the support system they need to be successful. We are focused on Black students, but we acknowledge that similar issues affect numerous marginalized communities on campus. We stand together in the face of adversity.

Black professionals are an asset to this university. They offer mentorship, advocate for diversity issues, and offer a unique perspective of campus climate. Campus climate is a primary reason why Black students leave the university. Without the mentorship and support of Black professionals, the university will continue to see Black students leave at alarming rates. The work environment for Black staff is reflective of the current toxic campus climate where they cannot advocate for students without fear of repercussion. Despite being a university that prides itself on a Community of C.A.R.E, there appear to be clear distinctions putting the issues facing Black students and staff at the lowest priority in the Butler Community university. We remain uncared for, both by our peers and by the administration, expecting us to be content with mediocrity. When we attempt to form a community of our own, there is minimal support due to the lack of Black faculty and staff, resulting in the inability of Black students to thrive or even to persist on Butler’s campus.

Butler University recently solicited feedback from faculty and staff through the “Great Colleges to Work For Survey.” The survey findings indicate that the Butler climate is not conducive for many faculty and staff, and that diversity is a problem.The survey found that 22 percent of participants did not feel that their was regular open communication among faculty, administration, and staff, 38 percent did not feel that they had adequate faculty/staff to achieve their department goals, and 39 percent did not feel like they were being paid fairly for their work. In the suggestions to improve work relations, participants suggested “More transparency and communication from senior leadership,” “Comparable compensation to other universities” and “Increased efforts in attracting not only diverse students but diverse faculty.”

We advocate for a work environment that allows Black staff to voice student concerns, salaries for staff and faculty members that are competitive with other institutions, and a mentorship structure for staff members that supports their career goals and encourages them to ascend in their fields.

We reflect on the Butler’s founding principles of the inclusion of women and Black people as students in 1855. However, it is evident to us that these principles are no longer a priority. In 2017, you cannot BU and be Black. You will be marginalized, tokenized, and ostracized by your employer, colleagues, and peers. You will not be allotted the space you need to do your job to the fullness of your ability. You will be forced to look for other opportunities before the time in which you wished to transition. You will leave the university. You will be fired.

We envision a campus where the number of Black staff members are reflective of the Black student population. We envision a campus where Black students, faculty, and staff feel comfortable to be themselves, and feel welcome at Butler. We envision a campus that will celebrate the founding of the university and address issues facing our city, nation, and world through the inclusion of the Social Justice and Diversity Requirement in the core curriculum. We envision a campus where Black faculty, staff, and students are treated fairly and seen as equal members of this community. We envision a university where you can BU no matter who you are.

Unapologetically,

Black Student Union Executive Board (2016-17)

#BUNotBlack

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