Diversity, equity and inclusion director hired for each college. Photo courtesy of butler.edu.
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Despite welcoming its most diverse first-year class in history this past fall, Butler remains a predominantly white institution. In order to create a more inclusive space for marginalized students, Butler has implemented new diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives this year.
One major change this year was creating a DEI director position for each college. The DEI director will be responsible for educating their peers on how to include diverse backgrounds and approaches to learning in their teaching.
Brandy Mmbaga, assistant dean for the Lacy School of Business, was named the DEI director for LSB this past summer. According to Mmbaga, this position was created to ensure that every college is meeting the needs of each student, regardless of their backgrounds.
She said she believes that these new positions will help increase diversity on campus because the directors are now working towards finding reasons as to why it’s lacking. Mmbaga said Butler attracting more students of different backgrounds would result in positive experiences for all students.
“The demographics of the classroom and the way that we have structurally designed our recruiting and admissions to some degree, there’s something that we have missed an opportunity on, because otherwise we should have a lot more representation here,” Mmbaga said.
Mmbaga said making students feel more included can be as easy as including an example of a Black business owner in a lesson plan.
The first year of this position will largely include the DEI directors educating each other at their monthly meetings and planning events for next year where they can spread their knowledge to the other faculty members.
Susan Adams, an associate professor for the College of Education, was named the DEI director for COE.
Adams stressed the importance of DEI specifically within the College of Education. She said that as future educators are learning the ropes of teaching, they should also learn how to include and celebrate diversity within their lessons.
“We’re just getting started,” Adams said. “We’ve begun figuring out how to create our own community first and develop that community of trust. It’s really necessary to go deep into the connections between our identities and the identities of the learners that we work with.”
Mmbaga said a simple way to promote diversity is to look at your own friend group.
“If you’re not exposing yourself to different groups and being friends with people of different backgrounds and identities, how are you ever going to educate yourself on their life and then, how can you empathize with their experiences?” Mmbaga said. “You stay within a very one-dimensional vantage point.”
Another new DEI position, that is still in the process of collecting applications, is the executive director of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging and chief diversity officer. The application for this position opened on Aug. 24 and closes on Nov. 8. The position involves working with Human Resources leadership to assess cultural needs as it relates to DEIB.
There are also student groups on campus that students can become involved with to be more active in DEI.
Darren Bloomfield, a senior risk management insurance and finance dual major, was the first DEI officer for the finance fraternity, Gamma Iota Sigma.
“We do diversity, equity and inclusion panels,” Bloomfield said. “That’s been a way to kind of get a foothold, and I think our objective is to let those groups on campus who are involved, to let them know that we want to join up with them.”
There are over 130 groups on campus, 42 of which fall under Diversity and Inclusion on the Butler clubs website.
Mmbaga said the responsibility of an inclusive campus falls on everyone, and she encourages students to find even small ways to promote diversity, equity and inclusion on campus.
Graphic by Emma Nobbe.