Bulldogs of Butler: Philosophy Club

Adam Barney discusses the Philosophy Club’s evolution, inclusive environment and engaging meetings. Photo by Jonathan Wang

MADDY BRODERICK | STAFF REPORTER | mbroderick@butler.edu 

Members of the Butler community are achieving extraordinary things, both on and off campus. From first-years to alumni to administrators and back, each Bulldog has a story to tell. Read on to discover the next of our Bulldogs of Butler through a Q&A style interview

Adam Barney, a junior anthropology-psychology and philosophy double major,  is currently the president of Butler’s Philosophy Club. Barney spoke to The Butler Collegian about the club’s evolution, structure and the engaging discussions it fosters among students from diverse backgrounds. He also discussed the Philosophy Club’s role as a safe environment for students to share their perspectives, challenge dominant ideologies and engage in meaningful discourse on a variety of topics. 

THE BUTLER COLLEGIAN: Can you give me a brief description of what Philosophy Club is? 

ADAM BARNEY: Philosophy Club has been going on for a couple of years. However, it was not an official club until this year. We ran it through [Student Government Association], and the point of [the club] is just a bunch of students meeting up [to talk] about topics. It is a casual environment that we’ve kept going, so what we do is pick a topic that people have thoughts about and then go from there. 

TBC: Is it a different topic every meeting? 

AB: We try to pick a different topic every meeting. This past [meeting], we talked about Stanley Cups and the economy, which is a big thing right now. We have talked about homelessness and how that works. Last year, we did a lot of topics that people really liked, like video games. 

TBC: When do you usually meet? 

AB: We meet bi-weekly on Thursdays. 

TBC: What made you decide to join the Philosophy Club in the first place, and when did you join? 

AB: My freshman year, [Philosophy Club] was very casual. Part of that was because I just landed in a high-level philosophy class, and [the club] turned out to be a bunch of friends meeting up. 

TBC: What made you decide to be president? What was the layout of a board before you were president? 

AB: We had an election because to be an official club, we had to have official people who were board members. I didn’t plan on being president; I kind of just showed up. There weren’t a lot of people there, so I ended up nominating myself. I didn’t really plan on it. I just fell into the role. Before this year I believe we did have concrete board members, but I think it was more so just a group of friends talking about stuff. Now, [the club is] a little more formal. 

TBC: What are the board positions? 

AB: We have a president, vice president, secretary, [public] relations and treasurer. One of our board members is doubling as our vice president and treasurer. Essentially, the four of us meet up and talk about how the meetings will go. My position is to oversee everything going on with the club. However, the four of us like to collaborate. 

TBC: Does the Philosophy Club ever [fundraise]? 

AB: Right now, we’re sort of working out the kinks in that, [because] becoming an official club means we can do more stuff. We’ve talked about getting into fundraising, which would be something new. We’ve also talked about reaching out to potential other clubs to figure out how they handle fundraising because I think that would really help us. 

TBC: Could you describe to me what a regular meeting would look like? 

AB: A regular meeting starts off in some room in Jordan Hall. We have pizza, soda and snacks for anyone who wants some. At the start of the meeting, we’ll go around the room, introduce ourselves and introduce the topic for the day to get the conversation started. If there’s not that many people there, [the club] will have a big, collaborative talk. If there are a lot of people there, we usually break off into small groups and then come back to discuss as a whole. Usually, meetings go for an hour to an hour and a half, so if the topic needs an introduction or some background information, one of [the board members] will do that. It’s a very relaxed environment as well. Something [the board members] really like to pride ourselves on is the fact that all of us are philosophy majors. However, we all have varying perspectives, [and] most [of us] are double majors, so we bring differing perspectives to the table. We try to create an environment where people can share their opinions without feeling judged. 

TBC: And then circling back, do your conversations ever get heated, and how do you deal with that? 

AB: It hasn’t really happened yet where we have had to interfere. I imagine if someone is disrespectful, we would just politely ask them to leave. 

TBC: Why would you encourage students to join the Philosophy Club? 

AB: I think it really opens people up to new perspectives. Another [reason] is free pizza. It’s a great place to meet new people. I would say I’m closer with the people on the board because of the Philosophy Club. We want to make sure our bubble doesn’t become only philosophy students discussing these topics. 

TBC: What kind of events does the Philosophy Club hold? 

AB: Obviously, we have our regular meetings which cover a casual conversation on a topic, and then sometimes we’ll also have games based on the trolley problem, which is pretty fun. For big events, something that the philosophy department does is “Ask a Philosopher”. We’re trying to rework that to be “Ask a Philosophy Student” for our club. Obviously, we’re not experts in the field, but we take classes from [the experts]. 

TBC: How do you go about spreading news of your events? 

AB: Last semester, we were at Starbucks passing out information. Sometimes, we’ll set up at the gazebo while people are walking to and from their classes. These events are usually separate from our club meetings. 

TBC: Do you have to attend every meeting, or can you pick and choose when you go? 

AB: If you wanted to show up to one, find out you don’t like it and never show up again, that’s totally cool. Or, if you want to show up every other week, that’s totally cool too. 

TBC: What advice would you give someone interested in joining the Philosophy Club? 

AB: We’re very accepting people. We love hearing other people’s perspectives. We love talking about topics, and the Philosophy Club is an opportunity for people to do that. I feel like sometimes here at college, there’s always a dominant ideology. However, we’re trying to learn about different things. We’ll talk about stuff and try to figure it out. 

Students interested in joining Philosophy Club can find more information on Engage, Instagram at @buphilclub or reach out to club president Adam Barney. The club meets bi-weekly on Thursdays at 5 p.m., and encourages students of any major to join.


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