Butler students attend a meeting in the Diversity Center. Photo by Xavier Neier.
OLIVIA KLAFTA | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Efroymson Diversity Center, also known as the “DC” to students, has recently made changes to their staff, programming and space.
A team of three new staff members were hired over the summer. The positions were filled by Gina Forrest, who serves as the executive director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Tiffany Reed, the director of multicultural programs and services, and Thalia Anguiano, the assistant director of multicultural programs and services.
Forrest said she is able to act as a “fresh set of eyes” for the DC. Forrest and the other two new staff members are able to look at programming from a new perspective, especially since Reed and Anguiano have past experience within student affairs.
“We almost don’t feel like it’s work,” Forrest said. “It’s what we are called to do.”
Marcos Navarro-Garcia, a sophomore critical communication and media studies, creative media and entertainment, and Spanish triple major, is a student leader for the DC. His day-to-day responsibilities include staffing the front desk and helping with administrative tasks.
More than anything, Navarro-Garcia said he works to create an inclusive environment to make students comfortable in the space.
“There are three professional staff in this department continually supporting us, that just ultimately results in more overall support and more development and training for the student leaders,” Navarro-Garcia said.
The DC has worked to expand Dawg Days 2.0, a pre-welcome week program designed to ease the transition to campus life and provide resources for underrepresented students. It now focuses more on intersectionality between multicultural students, students of color, those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, 21st Century Scholars and first-generation students. Each of the 30 students in Dawg Days 2.0 is connected to a multicultural mentor who assists the student in their transition.
A representative from Career and Professional Services also comes to the DC regularly to look over students’ resumes. Just last week, the DC brought in a Butler University alumni from Eli Lilly, along with 12 recruiters, to talk about diversity and inclusion in the professional world.
The DC also added two new student organizations to the space: Students for Justice in Palestine and the SGA Diversity and Inclusion Board. The SGA executives on this board hold office hours in the DC to make themselves more available to students.
Last spring, wheelchair accessible tables and chairs were donated by SGA’s Diversity and Inclusion Board. The welcome desk was moved from the back of the DC to the front to make students feel more welcomed. The craft room was turned into a prayer and meditation space.
Overall, the space was modernized to keep up with the newly built Irvington House, Fairview House and the Lacy School of Business.
Reed, director of multicultural programs and services, said the changes made to the DC have been more than just physical.
“Though it may look like ‘oh hey, we just painted,’ it’s created more of a visual representation of not just putting up a photo of diversity and inclusion, but also that diversity, equity and inclusion is everyone in this space,” Reed said. “It’s okay to say ‘we have work to do.’ Because everyone does.”
Roua Daas, a junior psychology, political science and French triple major, said there seems to have been benefits to the changes made within the DC. Daas has visited the DC since her first year at Butler.
“With these three new positions, there’s a lot more structure, a lot more active programming,” Daas said. “As far as the environment, I think the students in this space have done a really good job of maintaining an inclusive environment this year as in past years. I hope when everyone walks in here it feels like an environment for them.”
According to the DC website, the center “fosters contributions of intercultural engagement, support, guidance, and a home to the Butler community committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.” The DC is located in Atherton Union 004.