Collegian file photo.
BEE PILARZ | NEWS CO-EDITOR | firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2023, the Efroymson Diversity Center (DC) was moved from under the Division of Student Affairs to its new position as a member of Butler’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Division. As of the 2023-24 school year, the DC has hired two new full-time staff members, a part-time hire as well as five additional part-time student staff. From infrastructure to student support, these new hires have their goals set for the DC, and are excited to improve the quality of everything the DC has to offer.
Photo by Natalie Goo.
Mikala Lain — assistant director
Seven weeks ago, during pre-orientation, ’19 Butler alum Mikala Lain was hired as the assistant director of the DC. They are the first assistant director of the DC since its move to the DEI Division, and their job comes with several distinct obligations.
According to Lain, one of their responsibilities is to serve as the primary source of support for all of the student organizations that run out of the DC. Currently, there are 14 student organizations housed within the DC, including the Black Student Union, the Latinx Student Union and the Gender Equity Movement. It is Lain’s responsibility to aid in event operations, student organization logistics and planning future events.
“This is a really exciting time for student organizations coming out of the DC because it’s a unique opportunity for them to have a specific staff member that the majority of [whom’s] role is to just help them succeed,” Lain said.
Lain said they hope to implement more structure for student organizations in the DC. Their goal is that these structures will help create more of an understanding of what it means to be part of the Diversity Center.
“We’ve really been taking a hard look at what it means to be affiliated with the Diversity Center, what it means to have an office here in our physical space and what that support looks like to make sure the student voices are prioritized at all times as well,” Lain said.
Additionally, Lain directly oversees the eight-person DC student staff. Students are hired to operate the front desk as well as work with Lain to develop different initiatives and support for the DC. One of Lain’s personal goals is to help connect the DC to the greater campus community.
“When I was a student on campus, I didn’t get to use the Diversity Center or any of the programming running out of here as much as I would have liked to,” Lain said. “ … I want to make sure that students feel like they have a strong sense of community coming out of the DC and that they all feel connected.”
Photo by Natalie Goo.
Miah McLaurin — diversity programs coordinator
Miah McLaurin was hired just after Labor Day as the DC’s diversity programs coordinator. According to McLaurin, the DC previously had a rotating position that worked with the programs that are now under her jurisdiction, but she is the first person to hold the position full time.
Within her position, McLaurin oversees the Morton-Finney Diversity Scholars program as well as the Butler Blue Scholars programs. These programs provide financial aid to students, so long as they continue to meet their scholarship requirements. McLaurin’s obligations as coordinator include infrastructure work such as record keeping, student recruitment and retention to these programs.
“The retention [aspect] focuses primarily on the scholars but also trickles into the rest of the DC groups and clubs,” McLaurin said. “Some of those recruitment strategies [are] how do we get Morton-Finney and the other scholarships known to applicants coming into Butler, so they’re not halfway through [their time at] Butler and then they find out about these scholarship opportunities.”
McLaurin’s primary goal as diversity programs coordinator is to establish a sense of legacy for students within these programs, particularly the Morton-Finney program. According to McLaurin, she hopes that being able to say “I’m a Morton-Finney Scholar” will carry some sort of weight for these students in their college careers and beyond.
“I think [creating this legacy] will really help students who are in college know that there’s a network of people who can connect with them over some of those same interests,” McLaurin said. “Being in Morton-Finney is really about caring about social justice and equity and diversity and inclusion.”
Photo courtesy of Lauren Smith.
Lauren Smith — program coordinator
In addition to the full-time positions of assistant director and diversity programs coordinator, the DC has also hired Lauren Smith as a part-time program coordinator. Smith was hired in March of 2023 and now serves a support role for McLaurin and her work with the Morton-Finney Scholars program.
“I see my role as being a support and facilitating communication and coordinating … for all of the people and the things and the moving pieces because there are so many of them,” Smith said.
Smith said she looks forward to getting to help the students in the Morton-Finney program succeed, and that she is genuinely passionate about helping the program thrive.
“I just think that [these students] are amazing and brilliant and will change the world, so I love to be a part of that, and I want to support in the process of that,” Smith said.
The DC hired eight student staff for the 2023-24 school year. Three of these students worked in the DC last year, and the other five were hired for the 2023-24 school year. These students work with Lain and other DC staff to provide structure, develop additional support and generate a welcoming environment for all students within the DC.
Junior public health major Reaghan Jefferson, one of the Diversity Center’s newest staff members, has been working on a “DC handbook” to give visitors an overview of the different DC organizations and initiatives.
“I serve as a liaison between the student orgs and staff to see how I can best assist [them] to improve communication and to improve support all around,” Jefferson said. “I work on a variety of projects with the other student leaders in the DC to make it a more inclusive space but also more welcoming to those who are unfamiliar with what the DC has to offer.”
Whether students are stopping by for support and resources, or just want to see what’s going on, they can expect a full staff ready to help out. Martine Cardichon, a junior music and electrical engineering double major and DC student staff member, said she has always enjoyed spending time in the DC, even when she was not an employee.
“Before working in the DC, I was in here all the time anyway,” Cardichon said. “I love meeting everyone. [The DC is] like a family … it’s like all your cool cousins in one spot.”