College cancels class for day-long 'diversity' event

Butler University's arts college canceled classes for a day to hold a diversity and inclusion workshop.

The Dean said that even though taking the day off "wasn't easy," it was "important enough" to be necessary.

Butler University’s Jordan College of the Arts canceled classes for a discussion about diversity and inclusion in January. 

Following an incident at the Indiana university in March 2019 where the words “white power” were written on a whiteboard in a student lounge near the diversity center, many students took to social media to express their outrage at not only the situation but also the predominance of the white population on campus. 

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In response to this occurrence, Lisa Brooks, dean of JCA, assembled a Social Justice and Diversity taskforce. The students and faculty leaders wanted to do more than just talk about the issues; they wanted to “do something.” As a proposal, Wendy Meaden, associate dean of JCA, suggested the school cancel classes for the day to hold a talk on diversity and inclusion. 

During the day-long event, students were addressed by Gina Forrest, the school’s executive director of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, and then were split into small groups led by faculty members for discussion. 

“In our small groups on the day of the event, my professor who was leading it said that JCA has tried doing that but whenever non-white students come they’ll see the representation of our campus and they get turned away from it,” student Kolin Edrington who attended the workshop said. “It’s not that they didn’t like their experience, it’s just that they didn’t feel like it was a community they could thrive in.”

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However, Brooks alleged that one particular student’s contributions were racist and discriminatory in nature, even daring to mention swastikas. She said, “the [campus] response was kind of like ‘Hmm, thanks for leaning in.’”  

“I think that students in this college are frustrated because, I mean, it wasn’t easy for us to do that on Friday, but if something is important enough you do it,” said Brooks. “I don’t think that the other colleges share that.” 

Brooks declined to comment in response to Campus Reform’s request.

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