Butler Marketing and Communications department creates the Daily Digest. Photo courtesy of Daily Digest.
NATE LEMEN | OPINION EDITOR | firstname.lastname@example.org
Last semester, the Desmond Tutu Peace Lab, a think tank run through Butler that focuses on issues important to the student body, created a petition which circulated through the campus population and called for the reinstallation of the Butler Connection. The daily email newsletter — providing the student body with announcements and general information about events on campus — was discontinued in Fall 2019 after the creation of a new Butler marketing and communications online news platform, Butler Today.
The petition ended up receiving around 570 signatures, about 10% of the student population.
Then, on Feb. 13, Butler’s marketing and communications department sent an email to the student body announcing the launch of the Daily Digest, an offshoot of Butler Today.
The Daily Digest, which is optional and for which students must individually sign up, is aimed at filling the void left by the loss of the Connection.
Cambria Khayat, a sophomore international studies and economics double major, works for the Desmond Tutu Peace Lab and was one of the first students to work toward creating the petition. She feels inspired at the change the Butler community helped bring about after the Connection disappeared.
“It was really cool to be a part of that grassroots project on campus,” Khayat said. “[Organizing the petition] was like pure activism, which was really fun to be a part of. We saw something we didn’t like, we raised awareness, and then we changed it.”
Reilly Simmons, a senior international studies, political science and Spanish triple major, also works for the Desmond Tutu Peace Lab and said the decision for the Peace Lab to get involved was an intuitive one.
“We kind of talked about it one of our meetings, that the Connection is gone and this is something that we felt like other people would get behind us,” Simmons said. “[The petition] was like a mix — faculty, staff and students, which I think is a huge win.”
Stephanie Judge Cripe, the associate vice president marketing and communications, provided an email statement to The Butler Collegian explaining the impetus for and goal of the Daily Digest. According to the statement, Butler administration had heard the student voices lamenting the loss of the Connection.
“We received feedback from the campus community that, in addition to the new communication tools, having that daily listing of events and announcements was important,” Cripe’s statement reads. “Students, faculty and staff now have several options for communications, and can receive information in the way that works best for their individual needs. I welcome continued feedback from the community on how we can continue to evolve and improve communications on campus.”
Khayat said she thinks the Connection did more than just inform the Butler community about upcoming events, and believes the loss was greater to campus that it may seem on the surface.
“There was a trend of students just not being involved with on-campus activities as much,” Khayat said. “The downsides to that are they’re not embracing a liberal arts education; that there are all these incredible aspects of campus that people weren’t getting to appreciate because they couldn’t attend events because they didn’t know about them.”
One of the more immediate outcomes of the the loss of the Connection came from a decrease in visitors to Butler’s CUE Farm. The farm’s manager, Tim Dorsey, said he saw a clear cause-and-effect scenario in a past Collegian article
“We’ve sort of been killed since that happened,” Dorsey had said to the Collegian. “We’ve been growing foot traffic over the past three years, and it definitely dropped off this year.”
While the Desmond Tutu Peace Lab was looking at how the loss of the Connection impacted campus as a whole, the students also had a personal interest in fighting for something like the Connection to come back.
“[The Connection] was my intro to a lot of the organizations I’m a part of now, especially because I was on the lacrosse team my freshman and sophomore year, and I would plan my weeks way in advance to see what events I could make it to,” Simmons said.
Khayat is hopeful for the future of the Daily Digest, and thinks it fills a void felt by many students.
“Time will tell if it’s successful based on how much we see more interest in events and things like that,” Khayat said. “But it’s one of my favorite things about campus, just because I love attending events and going and seeing what’s going on on campus.”