Butler’s Department of DEI evaluates candidates for two open positions

The Department of DEI will be hiring candidates for two new positions. Collegian file photo.

ALISON MICCOLIS | STAFF REPORTER | amiccolis@butler.edu

Butler University’s Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is currently in the process of filling the associate director and coordinator for student diversity, equity and belonging. The two hired staff members will work closely with Gina Forrest, the current executive director of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Forrest was hired as the interim director of the Diversity Center in February 2019 and assumed her current position in May 2019. A director of multicultural programs and services was hired in June 2019 and an assistant director was hired in July 2019. 

The multicultural director Tiffany Reed, however, left the university in November 2019 and the assistant director Thalia Anguiano left in March 2020. The titles have changed, but Forrest is still looking for two co-workers to join her in the DEI department.

Forrest said when Frank Ross, vice president for student affairs, created the Department of DEI, it was designed so there would be a team of three professionals working together. She said in order for the department to grow and make a bigger impact, there needs to be more than one professional staff member. 

“Having one person, you’re just limited,” Forrest said. “It’s more about putting out fires than it is about actually being able to plan and program and evaluate what you’re doing, and with three people, we will be able to do that.” 

Forrest said she hopes the two new staff members will be able to help organize and expand their department programming such as the Dawg Days Program, Mentorship Program, Dr. John Morton-Finney Diversity Scholar Program and increase community outreach with alumni and local businesses.

Senior anthropology major Michaela Ivory is currently a student coordinator for the Efroymson Diversity Center. She said having multiple professional staff members is important because it makes room for different perspectives rather than having to look at every situation through one lens. Ivory also said many students, herself included, have had to take on extra work in the absence of additional staff. 

“I think it’s imperative that we have a strong professional base around diversity, equity and inclusion on Butler’s campus because marginalized students or even faculty and staff members who belong to marginalized groups can’t and should not be expected to carry the brunt of diversity, equity and inclusion work,” Ivory said. 

Ivory said that while many students are passionate about DEI, they lack the professional training that could help them in more complex situations. 

“I’m not an expert on everyone’s experiences,” Ivory said. “I’m an expert on my own, individual experience. And not to say that professional staff members are going to be experts on everyone’s experiences, but if they are trained in DEI and have a DEI background, then they should be more equipped to educate other people about DEI topics and create a space for folks to discuss certain issues in DEI.” 

The associate director and coordinator positions were posted in October 2020. In February 2021, Forrest and Ross went through all of the applications and evaluated applicants on criteria such as education and work experience. The candidates Forrest and Ross chose were then interviewed by a search committee. A separate search committee was established for each position, composed of Forrest, a student, a faculty member and a staff member. 

The third stage of the selection process is an open session with any Butler students, faculty, staff and alumni who choose to attend. Each candidate will give a 20-minute presentation on the DEI topic of their choice, followed by a Q&A session. The sessions will be held on Zoom and the schedule is as follows: 

Associate Director: 

April 7 at 11:30 am – Brooke Moreland https://butleru.zoom.us/j/94225624007 

April 7 at 2:00 pm – Major Cooper https://butleru.zoom.us/j/91325813811 

April 9 at 11:30 am – Mary Edwards https://butleru.zoom.us/j/94928478752 

Coordinator: 

April 14 at 1:45 pm – Ellie Tran https://butleru.zoom.us/j/96876831443 

April 16 at 1:45 pm – Rishawnda Archie https://butleru.zoom.us/j/95065841576 

Manuel Alarcon Nava, a sophomore multilingual studies major, said the Diversity Center has been an integral part of his experience at Butler. Alarcon Nava is currently the treasurer of the Latinx Student Union and said the Diversity Center has helped him grow as a student leader and created a safe space for this growth.

“The Diversity Center has allowed me to get a sense of safety on this campus; a place where I can grow, whether that be personally or professionally,” Alarcon Nava said. “But also, it has allowed me to not get so comfortable with my safe space. We tend to put ourselves in a bubble, and I’ve been able to interact with people who have challenged my viewpoints and my values, and I will forever be grateful for those critical conversations because they have made me a better person.” 

Forrest said she hopes the two final candidates will be offered the positions by the end of April.

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