Butler University’s Jordan College of the Arts (JCA) canceled an entire day of classes in order to hold discussions on “diversity and inclusion.” The dean of JCA said that while cancelling one day of classes “wasn’t easy,” it was important to do.
“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 dean of JCA Lisa Brooks. “I don’t think that the other colleges share that.”
According to the Butler Collegian, Brooks was inspired to cancel classes for a day of discussions on “diversity and inclusion” in response to an incident that occurred in March 2019, in which the words “white power” were found scrawled onto a whiteboard in the school’s Diversity Center, eliciting a response of outrage among students.
Initially, Brooks responded by creating a task force known as the “JCA Social Justice and Diversity taskforce.”
“So we created this task force and we started talking about how do we not just talk about this, how do we do something?” said Brooks.
The report added that JCA’s associate dean Wendy Meaden suggested that the school cancel classes so that the entire student body can come together to focus on diversity and inclusion.
“So she said can we just cancel classes and deal with it?” said Brooks, “and I said ‘Really?’ I mean, I’m okay with cancelling classes, but I’m not the one who’s giving up rehearsal time.”
Executive director of diversity, equity and inclusion programs, Gina Forrest, began the event with a lecture, which then segued into attendees breaking up into smaller discussion groups, which reportedly included both students and faculty.
The report added that students agree “Butler needs more non-white students on campus.”
“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,” said student Kolin Edrington to the Butler Collegian.
“It’s not that they didn’t like their experience,” he added, “it’s just that they didn’t feel like it was a community they could thrive in.”