Letter to the Editor: The SGA Senate should forfeit its power over DEI

Graphic by Corrina Riess. 

A NOTE FROM THE EDITORS: This letter to the editor has been fact-checked by numerous members of The Butler Collegian. The opinions contained in this letter are those of the author. The Butler Collegian is committed to sharing diverse viewpoints from across the university and is committed to upholding values of free speech, but does not endorse or promote opinions contained within any letter to the editor. 

On Oct. 1, 2020, Senate Resolution 14, a resolution designed to use student dollars to purchase donuts for the Butler University Police Department, received a legislative veto from the Executive Branch of the Student Government Association. They found the resolution to be insensitive in light of the murder of George Floyd along with the ensuing social justice movement that continues to combat police brutality that disproportionately affects people of color through a series of police reforms. 

Students of color have actively communicated their frustration with SGA representatives involving the disregard for the shifting social climate, and because of this, a veto was enacted. The veto was considered to be a great victory for students of color on this campus.

On April 7, 2021, however, the SGA Senate passed Resolution 72, a resolution that would complete the mission of the one that was first vetoed. 

In this new resolution, the social climate was acknowledged, but once again overlooked. Additionally, controversy regarding the cancellation of the Angela Davis event, and the ongoing uproar in response to the Derek Chauvin trial — a constant reminder of the brutal murder of George Floyd — had no effect on the decision SGA senators made. 

On April 13, 2021 the Executive Branch of the Student Government Association vetoed Resolution 72, continuing their commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, but this doesn’t erase the fact that elected student leaders within the Legislative Branch actively chose to support an initiative that would work to invalidate the lived experiences of students of color on this campus. Ultimately, I believe that this issue occurred mainly because of the immense amount of privilege that encapsulates our Butler community and SGA.

Today, I stand utterly astonished that a handful of white students caused the dismissal of an event with THE Angela Davis, yet an entire social justice movement led by minorities wasn’t enough to make SGA senators reconsider their decision to purchase donuts.

The SGA Senate chose donuts for BUPD over the voices of our most vulnerable students. Twice. 

As a senator within SGA, I have repeatedly witnessed the voices of students of color being ignored, silenced and actively policed by the SGA Senate. As one of the few minorities within the Senate, I have tirelessly advocated for diverse students and voices on this campus, working to right the wrongs that we have made as an organization towards marginalized groups. 

Through my experiences dealing with racial issues within SGA, I have stumbled upon a realization: giving students the ability to make decisions based or revolving around race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and other identity based factors gives students the ability to discriminate against other students. While we might not be able to strip SGA of the power to make these types of decisions, as students, we can pressure our elected representatives to forfeit this power in order to protect marginalized voices on this campus. 

Here at Butler, we have access to staff members and trained students that are equipped to deal with the issues that SGA senators have handled so miserably, and we should utilize their expertise to make sure that all students are heard. But we can’t do that until SGA senators learn that they themselves are not properly equipped to deal with issues regarding diversity, equity and inclusion. 

The SGA Executive Branch has received a great deal of backlash recently, but SGA executive leadership is not at fault for this controversy. Right now, senators are the ones who need to be held accountable. 

The most problematic senators that have continued to create issues for the student body will ultimately be rewarded with progression throughout SGA leadership, because the issues that they create give them more opportunities to be seen and heard than other senators. Not all senators are outspoken, but each one has the opportunity to represent the values of students. However, as it is now, senators move up through the ranks of SGA not by representing the values of students, but by pushing their own agendas. The work itself isn’t enough; we give too much credit to student leaders who make an effort, but don’t actually obtain results that benefit students.

My challenges within SGA haven’t given me tough skin, but rather a cold heart, like so many other marginalized voices on this campus. We have lost hope that anything will change, and are just grudgingly waiting for the next racial incident that will further invalidate our experiences on this campus. 

It is so disheartening to finally accept that the community that claims to be so welcoming and inclusive will never truly feel like our own. Even with this, I want minority students on this campus to know that there are people fighting for you: within SGA, within administration and within our own communities. 

I have and will continue to advocate for tough conversations that might cause discomfort, because the comfort of our peers will not create the change that we need to see within our Student Government. Together we must push these conversations so that we can give hope and support to students of color on this campus. 

Support me in making the change that we need by contacting your SGA senators, seeing where they stand on Resolution 72, and expressing your feelings, thoughts and personal experiences with them. This could be the civil discourse that makes a difference. You can find the emails of each of your corresponding senators below, along with my own in case you have any questions or want more information. 

Sincerely,

Paul Ford

 

Senator Emails

Name Constituency Email
Class Senators
Savanna Simpson First-Year slsimpson@butler.edu
Mark Morrison First-Year mwmorrison@butler.edu
Angelica Letcher Sophomore aletcher@butler.edu
Reagan Markland Sophomore rmarklan@butler.edu
Emily Shoemaker Junior emshoema@butler.edu
Julia North Junior jpnorth@butler.edu
Lizzy Bishop Senior epbishop@butler.edu
Academic College Senators
Cade Chezem College of Liberal Arts & Sciences cchezem@butler.edu
Jake Overman College of Liberal Arts & Sciences jdoverma@butler.edu
Lauren Bluthardt Lacy School of Business lbluthar@butler.edu
Paul Ford Lacy School of Business pford@butler.edu
Claire Athanas College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences cathanas@butler.edu
Ashley LaMonto College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences alamonto@butler.edu
Holden Hartle College of Communications hhartle@butler.edu
Raleigh Brown College of Communications rfbrown1@butler.edu
Nina Koeppen College of Education nkoeppen@butler.edu
Ellie Sear College of Education esear@butler.edu
Nicole Dickson Jordan College of the Arts nmdickso@butler.edu
Katelyn Soards Jordan College of the Arts ksoards@butler.edu
Residential Senators
Jack Parcell Irvington House jparcell@butler.edu
James Boes Irvington House aaboes@butler.edu
Aidan Kohnke Residential College akohnke@butler.edu
Nick Durst Residential College ndurst@butler.edu
Alex Stencel Fairview House astencel@butler.edu
Sam Zechiel Fairview House szechiel@butler.edu
Alex Colbert Apartment Village azcolbert@butler.edu
Drew Berry Apartment Village deberry@butler.edu
Chloe Dluger University Apartments cdluger@butler.edu
Julia Denkmann University Apartments jdenkman@butler.edu
Abby Stock Sororities astock1@butler.edu
Miki Kawahara Sororities mkawahar@butler.edu
Mark Sortino Fraternities msortino@butler.edu
Molly Kubaszyk Off-Campus mkubaszy@butler.edu
Bayley Stuckey Commuter bstuckey@butler.edu
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