An Update on Cori Jackson

Late Sunday night we published a written transcription of an interview with Cori Jackson. The story of his suspension had been brought to our attention early in the month, but Caleb and I were not able to sit down with Jackson until last Friday. Caleb and I are on the editorial board of the Collegian, though we are not part of the news section, and we informed the news editors of the situation as we understood it. From there we had the interview, recorded it and I transcribed it on Sunday. Both we at the Underground and representatives from the Collegian spoke with Jackson about getting his story told in these outlets and, at the time, he was supportive of our attempts to get his story out to the public.

We chose to publish the exact words of Jackson, as we thought this fit best with our mission to allow suppressed stories to be told by those who lived them.

By midnight, I had become aware that Jackson had informed his attorney about the publications, and his attorney counseled Jackson to have them removed. As these words are Jackson's and not ours, we complied.

Though Caleb and I truly want Cori's story to be told to the Butler community in the format we originally chose, we will continue to refrain from making the transcript available on the Underground. Our colleagues at the Butler Collegian will be publishing a story in tomorrow's April 1st issue regarding the proceedings at the university and at BUPD.

In the brief discussions I've had with Cori about the progress of his case (and the possibility of reposting) he has expressed regret about not feeling comfortable supporting the release on the Underground and in the Collegian. His response to our efforts was positive, but he avidly expressed his desire to wait. Cori is to see a judge regarding his case in the coming days and he is hoping that the progress of the case will go in his favor. For that reason, he does not want any publications here to complicate that possibility.

Though further portions of the interview we presented and further information are to come to light tomorrow, this blog is about harboring a respectable space for dissent and opinion. A free flow of information does not necessitate an uninhibited one, but does necessitate respect.

I am aware that copies of our Sunday post exist and I ask that you maintain these responsibly. I also encourage everyone to pick up an issue of the Collegian in order to read new details about story which Caleb and I were unable to present originally. We will keep the updates coming and ensure that injustices are not kept quiet; that they are not swept under the rug by administrators as a complicated guise of bureaucracy.


Dr. Carol Hagans to Become Associate Provost of Student Academic Affairs

Regardless of whether or not students had a direct and valued say in this decision, hopefully it will prove to be a positive one.

The Office of the Provost is pleased to announce that Dr. Carol Hagans has accepted the offer to become the new Associate Provost for Student Academic Affairs, effective Monday, May 18.

Since June 2000, Dr Hagans has called Butler her home, serving both as the Director of Counseling and Consultation Services and the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs. She completed her undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees at Ball State University and is both APA and CACREP accredited. Dr Hagans has a proven record with 18 years of experience in higher education, ranging from small liberal arts, medium-sized land-grant institutions, and the Graduate School of Theology in the Caribbean, and brings with her specialized knowledge of Butler students and issues they face from both a therapy and Student Affairs professional services background.

I would like to express sincere gratitude to the Associate Provost for Student Academic Affairs Search Committee, which consisted of chair Joe Kirsh and committee members Gary Beaulieu, Bob Bennett, Sally Click, Jennifer Griggs, Kent Grumbles, Kendra Hormann, Scott Kincaid, Deb Lecklider, Tom Weede, and Anne Wilson, for their time and efforts in this decision.

Please join my enthusiasm in congratulating Dr. Hagans as she begins this exciting new facet of her professional life.

Dr. Jamie Comstock


On Cori Jackson & The Power of Our Voices

I think the potential of this forum was demonstrated earlier this evening. Within hours of posting the story about Cori Jackson, the email accounts of Caleb and I were being flooded with responses both on the page and on tips of other stories regarding Dean Irene Stevens.

As part of this flood we received a message from CJ himself requesting that we remove the entry. After speaking with his attorney, CJ was advised to have the post removed until he meets with the judge again. We have agreed to remove it, for the time being, as we would not want to impede any progress in his case. The post has not been deleted, but will not appear in a published form for the time being. I have also made an effort to ensure that all comments made on the entry while it was up were saved and will reappear when and if we re-post. We are working closely with CJ and hope to have the post back up soon. I understand with the rise and fall of blogs at Butler that many are sensitive to saving information, I myself was able to save the True BU entries in various forms. I request that anyone who still has this post available please refrain re-publication. I reiterate, this is by request of CJ and his attorney and we do not want to impede his case.

The Underground has been slowly exposing the many realities of student, faculty and administrative life at Butler, none more disturbing than the recent events surround Mr. Jackson. As such we have been treading some delicate borders and negotiating legal and ethical realities which are unprecedented in this type of forum. Occasionally this leads to some hard choices, ones that we do not take lightly.We will always act in the best interest of the community by insuring the integrity of The Underground, protecting those whose stories are being shared and not shying away from controversy.

Again, CJ's story has not and will not fall to the background. It remains underground and though we exposed it only briefly, the response was immense. We expect to have something to present within the next day or two and will keep everyone updated.

Thank you all for your concerned responses. We hope we have your understanding in the matter.



Professor Bill Watts: Email Monitoring and the TrueBU

During my short time at Butler, Professor Bill Watts of the English Department has repeatedly shown himself to be a dedicated advocate for faculty and students. He has written numerous articles for The Butler Collegian addressing campus injustice and has provided guidance to many in need.

Below you'll find a piece composed by Professor Watts addressing the administration's recent intrusion into a student's personal email account and the subsequent closing of the former TrueBU.

- Caleb

Jess Zimmerman’s Email and the Closing of TrueBU
Bill Watts
We should all be concerned about the intrusion into Jess Zimmerman’s private Butler email account, as reported by the Butler Collegian on Feb. 25, 2009. While this intrusion may be legally defensible, it is not justifiable in moral or academic terms. I believe that its purpose was to intimidate and to inhibit the free exchange of ideas.

In their carefully modulated statements to the Collegian, Scott Kincaid, Chief Information Officer, Levester Johnson, Vice President for Student Affairs, and President Bobby Fong have left the impression that Jess Zimmerman’s private email was read because he was suspected of sending out threatening messages. This explanation does not stand up to scrutiny.

To begin with, I have seen the two email messages in question, and I can say that it is impossible to construe the one and it is a stretch to construe the other as threatening. Both messages were written in the aftermath of Andrea Gullickson’s dismissal as head of the School of Music.
(Both emails can be found below this article in their entirety.)
The message sent by Soodo Nym to Provost Jamie Comstock and JCFA Dean Peter Alexander is dismissive of their abilities and it is snarky, but it is not threatening. The harshest sentence in the message, sent on Christmas day, says to Alexander and Comstock: “I hope your new year's resolution is to begin to represent Butler University in a positive fashion and with integrity--something both of you have demonstrated, repeatedly, that you lack.”

The second message was sent by someone writing under the name of “Butler Brigade,” and it is both shorter and blunter than Soodo Nym’s missive: “You’re entering dangerous territory. You can mess with our faculty but you will not intimidate our students. Be fully aware that we can create much more trouble for you than we have so far.” The message is signed “The Students of Butler University.”

To my mind, there is nothing in this note that threatens physical harm. To say that someone is entering “dangerous territory,” it seems to me, is to say that they are making unwise decisions, and that they should alter their course of action. Butler Brigade’s message is impolite and uncivil, and I do not approve of such anonymous messages, in which the speaker masks his or her identity with a pseudonym. But it is hard for me to see the message as threatening.

Even if we do stretch our imagination in order to find some kind of veiled threat in the message from Butler Brigade, this still does not justify rifling through Jess Zimmerman’s email account. Neither the message from Soodo Nym nor the “dangerous territory” message from Butler Brigade was sent from a Butler account; the former came from a Gmail account, and the latter from Hotmail. If Butler administrators wanted to track down these messages, they had better and more legitimate means to do so than intruding on an email account that had nothing to do with these messages.

A few years ago, an anonymous emailer sent out a message mocking Michelle Mannering, who was then a professor in the history department. In response to this message, the Butler Police went to extraordinary lengths to check the IP address of the message, and to track down the sender. The Butler Police could have done the same with the “dangerous ground” message, and they could also have subpoenaed the email service provider to learn the identity of Butler Brigade. This would have been the legitimate way to deal with the message.

In understanding why Butler administrators chose instead to breach Jess Zimmerman’s email account, we have to look to two other factors: his relationship to the TrueBU blog and his relationship to Michael Zimmerman, his father and dean of the LAS, and Andrea Gullickson, his step-mother, and the former head of the School of Music.

In my several conversations with him, Jess Zimmerman has always been coy about his relationship to TrueBU, the blog that was critical of the Butler administration. I do not know whether Jess Zimmerman was just an acquaintance of the creators of TrueBU, or whether he was a principal creator himself, but I do know that he was involved with the blog in some way.

At the same time that Vice President Levester Johnson and Dean Sally Click presented Jess Zimmerman with email messages from his private account, Butler University officials were making a concerted effort to close down TrueBU. I believe that Michael Blickman, Butler’s ever-present, behind-the-scenes legal muscle from the Ice Miller law firm, was central to this effort.

Here, I must rely upon indirect evidence and a bit of conjecture to reconstruct the sequence of steps taken to close down TrueBU. If any Butler official wishes to contradict or correct my reconstruction of events, I would be grateful for the correction. But here is what I believe happened:

1. A high Butler official—perhaps President Fong himself---and Michael Blickman made a request to Scott Kincaid to open up Jess Zimmerman’s email account on the dubious grounds that he was involved in sending out threatening email messages;

2. Michael Blickman sent a message to Soodo Nym threatening legal action on the questionable grounds that TrueBU was distributing material that was either defaming or harassing Butler officials;

3. Dean Michael Zimmerman was presented with evidence, probably taken from Jess Zimmerman’s email, indicating that his son was associated with TrueBu. Dean Zimmerman was pressured to tell his son to close down the blog.

In this way, then, Butler officials were able to move behind the scenes to close down TrueBU while giving themselves room to state publicly that their real concern was with email threats that did not, in any case, come from Jess Zimmerman’s email account. And, of course, their efforts succeeded; the blog was closed down.

The opening of Jess Zimmerman’s email was not simply a violation of his privacy; it undermined one of the principles of the University, which should be dedicated to the free and unfettered exchange of ideas.

One of the most beautiful and compelling statements of that principle is to be found in John Milton’s seventeenth-century treatise, Areopagitica. In making his argument that Parliament should not regulate the free expression of ideas, Milton writes:

And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?

Because Truth would triumph in any free exchange with Falsehood, Milton reasoned, artificial means of censoring utterances could only hinder the discovery of what is true.

Not content to allow Truth and Falsehood to confront one another, our administrators sought, by intruding on Jess Zimmerman’s email and by employing other strong-arm tactics, to close down a blog expressing ideas with which they disagreed.

We are all diminished by their actions.
Email 1
Sent from Soodo Nym on Dec. 25, 2009 from a Gmail account:

Drs Alexander and Comstock,

I wanted to write to wish you a very merry Christmas and a good new year.

Though I've spent this last week, and will spend the next week, off of campus sipping eggnog and opening/giving presents, I haven't forgotten the abuses of power and poor leadership you showed last semester. I know you wanted me (and all students) to forget over the holiday, but I assure you that I have not. Oh well.

Anyway, I hope your new year's resolution is to begin to represent Butler University in a positive fashion and with integrity--something both of you have demonstrated, repeatedly, that you lack.

As I've told people both online and in person, my goal is to tell the true stories of Butler University. I hope you give me something positive about which to write next semester: If you ever have any professional or personal achievements (Or, Dr. Alexander, if you ever even have a biography that someone feels is important enough to publish on ANY website) I would love to report them because it will make Butler look better.

Best to you and yours this holiday,

Soodo Nym
Butler Blogger: The True BU
Email 2
Sent from Butler Brigade, late December 2008, to Jamie Comstock and possibly other administrators from a Hotmail account:

You’re entering dangerous territory. You can mess with our faculty but you will not intimidate our students. Be fully aware that we can create much more trouble for you than we have so far.

The Students of Butler University


Removal of "Music Gate" Coverage

After consulting with trusted faculty, Jon and I have decided to remove our initial post--one containing the internal correspondence surrounding the resignation of Andrea Gullickson as Chair of Music.

As with our decision to remove the Butler logo, we take this action not necessarily because we think this is the ethical decision, but because we wish to allow the administration no legitimate grounds for interfering with this publication. We want it to be unmistakably clear that should we disappear in the fashion of the TrueBU, that it was due to nothing other than dislike of the free flow of information in our university community.

As we have written before, we wish to dissipate an emerging climate of fear at Butler. We take this action not because we wish to further this environment, but so we can ensure the vitality of this forum which seeks to eliminate it.

- Caleb


Another Provost Position!

Butler just finished entertaining three finalists for Associate Provost for Student Academic Affairs (see posts below for detailed description and evaluation of this process). Now, we're currently interviewing finalists for Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs and Interdisciplinary Programs.

As with the former position, Jon and I will be meeting with and evaluating the finalists. The process should be completed by next week. Until then, we encourage you to attend the open forums and share your concerns with the applicants and the numerous administrators that also attend these meetings. The dates and times of these discussions are sent out regularly to all Butler community members. If for some reason you can't access the schedules, e-mail either Jon or me and we'll fill you in. The next meeting will be held tomorrow morning at 10:30 in the writers studio (third floor Jordan Hall). Hope to see you there.

- Caleb

The administration's description of the position:

The associate provost for faculty affairs and interdisciplinary programs provides leadership, strategic direction, and administrative oversight for the Comprehensive Faculty Development program, the Core Curriculum, and cross-college, inter-disciplinary programs. The associate provost reports directly to the Provost, serves as key member of the provost’s central office staff, and sits on the Provost Advisory Council, as well the University’s Senior Administrative Group.

Duties and Assignments:
· Responsibility and authority to ensure the appropriate delivery of the faculty approved Core Curriculum, which includes oversight for staffing, budgeting, course scheduling and learning outcomes assessment, as well as providing guidance to, and engaging in high levels of collaboration with, the faculty core curriculum committees.
· In collaboration with the provost, develop, implement and sustain policies and protocols related to faculty affiliation with the university, including hiring, the tenure and promotion process; the maintenance of faculty personnel files, etc.
· In collaboration with the provost, deans, and faculty leadership develop and implement a comprehensive faculty development program that addresses a broad spectrum of faculty needs, including early-career, mid-career and late-career support, as well as development in teaching and research. Provide appropriate guidance an instruction during the faculty search process.
· Oversee the cross-college, interdisciplinary programs of the institution (International Studies, Gender Studies, Service Learning and other programs as currently exist or will be developed). Provide supervision and evaluation of area-directors and coordinators.
· Oversee the implementation and further development of the internal-grants and sponsored-programs activities of the institution. Provide guidance to the faculty committees charged with allocation of internal grants funding. In collaboration with the deans, develop a program to support faculty seeking external-grants funding through sponsored programs.
· Implement special-function programs for faculty, including start-of-year colloquy, orientation for new faculty, mentoring programs, and others as occasions arise.
· Manage and sustain the auxiliary functions needed to support faculty research, including the activities of the Institutional Review Board and animal-care.
· Serve as the administrative liaison for the Faculty Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate.
· Complete duties and projects as assigned by the provost.
· Terminal degree, with senior faculty status.
· Minimum of five years experience in academic leadership, preferably at the department chair level or above.
· Full understanding of the faculty evaluation policies, procedures and processes.
· Record of excellence in teaching, scholarship/creative achievement
· Leadership skills to support the work of and foster collaboration among a diverse population of colleagues and direct-reports.
· Ability to solve problems, analyze and evaluate data, allocate resources effectively.
· Strong communication skills.
· Ability to manage multiple, simultaneous priorities, organize work-flow, identify emerging needs. Ability to work both proactively and responsively.
· Understanding of best practices in curricular development, pedagogy and research, as well as an ability to integrate emerging practices into current structures
· Understanding of higher education institutions, structures, policies, and practices


Evaluation: Associate Provost for Student Academic Affairs

Over the last two weeks, we have taken the time to interview and interact with the three candidates for Associate Provost for Student Academic Affairs. According to the administration, the person in this position:

"Provides leadership, strategic direction, and administrative oversight for all student academic support programs and student academic development and success initiatives. The associate provost reports directly to the Provost, serves as chief of the provost’s central office staff, and sits on the Provost Advisory Council, as well the University’s Senior Administrative Group." (See the end of this post for the full description.)

Obviously, this is an important post--one that Butler students should be concerned with.

As such, we have provided our personal evaluations of the candidates. We do not claim to be absolute authorities--we only wish to provide those concerned with this position some standards by which to compare. Also, we encourage you to utilize the candidate resumes and responses that were e-mailed out during the past week. If you've lost them, contact us and we'll be happy to send you a copy.

We have posted links below. These will take you to online surveys where, in the absence of legitimate voting power, you can "share your thoughts" with the administration. Please note that our officials have requested these responses be completed by 5pm today.

Make your voice heard(!):


- The Dissenters

An Evaluation: By Jon Irons

Dr. McKeever seemed quite relatable and interested in students. However, when I met with her in a more intimate situation I found myself wanting more genuineness. I had a number of questions to ask Dr. McKeever, particularly about her ideas of the special role that a student affairs provost might have. Unfortunately, our time was mostly used up due to the long stories she told about growing up in a military family and teaching and learning English. Her perspective was intriguing, but she jumped from the meat of the questions the students asked to anecdotal supplement after only supplying cursory answers. I left the meeting uncertain of whether this story-telling down-to-earth self was a real one or a tactic to win favor. This is not a good type of uncertainty to leave.

Furthermore, McKeever presented a metaphor to her position that bothered me. She used the idea of grafting roses on a rose bush to explain how she thought “cultivating” the student-faculty relationship was of the highest importance. Ultimately, it seemed that the role of the cultivator was unrivaled, and while the grafted roses would develop unique relationships, the scheme carried an air of determinism which bothered me. I think administrators think of themselves too much as cultivators and not equal actors.

It is worth noting that Dr. Hagans is an internal candidate, meaning that she already holds a position at Butler. She works in the counseling center in the HRC. The fact that she worked at Butler, left and returned again indicates to me that she is a good fit for and enjoys the climate here. This is a benefit in the sense that she understands the needs to Butler-type students. However, one might wonder if the incomplete puzzle needs a well-fitting piece or a another one that fits, but requires some reworking around the edges. Perhaps conflict would breed more productivity.

Unfortunately I could not meet with Dr. Hagans in a smaller student-oriented setting. For that reason I cannot offer a great deal of insight into the person behind the claims. But, while I was at the open forum, she answered a question about the role she would play in summer school. To this she immediately mentioned the numbers of students she has worked with that express (of the Butler summer opportunities) frustration in never being asked what they needed. This meant for her that the first step in addressing summer school would be to determine needs, with specific mention to the needs of students seeking summer credit. Again, I cannot attest to verifying the sincerity behind listening to students (for all the candidates promised to defer to students), but I can say that the sincerity I felt in the formal setting was more than an sincerity I got from Dr. McKeever in even the intimate setting.

An Evaluation: By Caleb Hamman

I was able to attend open forums with the three candidates for Associate Provost for Student Academic Affairs. I was also able to meet with the second candidate, Dr. Mary Ann Rasnak, in a small discussion with two other students.

After interacting with each of the candidates, I think that that the third, Dr. Carol Hagans, would be the best choice for the position.

I essentially used three criteria to evaluate the candidates. In order of decreasing importance these were: their ideas on facilitating effective and genuine student learning, their ideas on student faculty interaction, and their own administrative abilities.

I felt that both Rasnak and Dr. Kerry McKeever, though both seeming to have some skill in the latter category, did not sufficiently demonstrate transformative ideas or plans on the two former.

McKeever spoke of “grafting” students onto professors, showed little concern for pedagogy, and seemed lacking of thoughts regarding the value of experiential learning. When I asked her about possible barriers to university student learning, McKeever almost entirely focused on problems stemming from poor high school education. When at the university, according to McKeever, students can have problems managing time or more difficult material. Though this is certainly true, McKeever demonstrated no concern for pedagogical problems stemming from the university structure itself—those relating to competition and separation that we at the Underground view as substantial barriers to true learning. Moreover, in my personal interaction with McKeever, I felt as if I was being belittled due to my status as a student. A notable example was her interruption of my question, but I’ve heard other students also speak about her tendency to run them over in a conversational setting.

Rasnak would be my second choice. She showed much more concern for student learning that McKeever. However, her focus was almost entirely administrative, and even when asked directly to speak about her theory of student development, continued to only emphasize program solutions. Similarly, her thoughts on experiential learning, which she expressed in the open forum, seemed somewhat manufactured. In my opinion, this is probably due to the fact that I spoke with her extensively on the topic before the meeting and informed her (perhaps mistakenly) that some of those evaluating her would view this as an important subject—one which, I emphasize, she did not mention until I brought it up and even then seemed to view as of marginal importance. Finally, I was somewhat troubled by Rasnak’s suggestion that a solution to faculty-student estrangement was to have upper-class students act as intermediaries between students and faculty. Though I understand this may make some sense at the kind of large institution Rasnak is familiar with, it seems to me to be an unnecessary (and alienating) segregation for Butler, where faculty-student ratios are considerably smaller.

I was only able to attend roughly 30 minutes of an open forum with Hagans. Of all the candidates, she was the only one I was unable to question. Still, even from her brief presentation, it seemed evident to me that Hagans understood some principles that, in my opinion, are absolutely essential for quality learning to take place. Mainly, these are connection, collectivism, empathy, and community. Granted, I was unable to specifically ask Hagans questions concerning my criteria of pedagogy and student-faculty interaction, but from hearing her brief remarks, it seems safe to conclude that at worst she could be the best of three evils—however, from the values I heard articulated, I think there’s a good chance Hagans can offer something much more promising.

Full Description of Position:

The associate provost for Student Academic Affairs provides leadership, strategic direction, and administrative oversight for all student academic support programs and student academic development and success initiatives. The associate provost reports directly to the Provost, serves as chief of the provost’s central office staff, and sits on the Provost Advisory Council, as well the University’s Senior Administrative Group.

Duties and Assignments:

· Provide oversight and strategic direction for the efforts of the Academic Affairs support units including the Registrar, Learning Resource Center, Student Disability Services, Honors Program, Internship and Career Services, Office of Post-Graduate Studies, and Center for Faith and Vocation.
· Provide leadership and direction for Butler’s Summer Session, with emphasis on student development and satisfaction, as well as enrollment potential.
· Ensure that the Honor’s Program serves as an engaging recruitment and retention mechanism for high achieving students across all disciplines.
· Oversee services and programs that support student achievement and recognition in research and creative activity, including the Butler Summer Institute, Undergraduate Research Conference, and other programs that exist or will be developed.
· Support the provost’s priorities and plan-of-work by researching issues, developing and analyzing data sets, preparing presentations, and convening special-purpose workgroups.
· Manage and implement key university initiatives, including retention, academic advising, and electronic portfolio.
· Collaborate with cross-functional constituents, both internal and external on issues and opportunities related to student recruitment, enculturation, persistence, and achievement. The work involves problem-solving, idea generation, strategizing and individual/group meetings. Examples include working with other functional areas on university wide programs such as Early Registration, Welcome Week, Scholars’ Forum, and residence-life programs and working with student leadership to discuss concerns and priorities.
· Respond to the concerns of students, parents and alumni who may be experiencing difficulties in negotiating university policies and procedures. Serve as the university FERPA officer.
· Represent the Provost’s Office on councils and workgroups and ad hoc committees, including: Administrative Systems Improvement Committee; Assessment Committee; Career Services Advisory Board; grant-proposal development groups; Welcome Week planning group. Chair the Student Retention Operation Team and the Electronic Portfolio Implementation Team.


· Terminal degree, college teaching experience, and minimum of five years experience in academic administration, preferably in the areas of student academic development, campus wide retention initiatives, and program development.
· Experience in managing a divisional budget and ability to allocate resources effectively.
· Leadership skills to support the work of and foster collaboration among a diverse population of colleagues and direct-reports.
· Ability to solve problems, analyze and evaluate data.
· Strong communication skills.
· Ability to manage multiple, simultaneous priorities, organize work-flow, and identify emerging needs. Ability to work both proactively and responsively.
· Understanding of best practices in student development and support, as well as an ability to integrate emerging practices into current structures
· Understanding of higher education institutions, structures, policies, and practices


Butler Searches for New Provost

The University is begining a long interview process to hire two new provost positions. For those of you who have no idea what a provost is, Jaime Comstock is the Provost, also known as the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Faculty report to their chairs, chairs report to their deans and deans report to the provost. Such is the academic heirarchy. Associate provosts serve to parce out the work and highlight specific areas of concern. For instance, the new provost for faculty affairs and interdisciplinary programs will keep programs like gender studies or international studies as an important priority.

Though we may not all have helpful input for a search of this type, attending open forums is an excellent way to learn how the university works and what kind of people (and what goals they have) are working to create your educational experience at Butler. You can expect to see Caleb and me, as well as many other concerned students, at many of these forums actively trying to exercise the student voice. If we are to truly dissent and object to the diminished voices at Butler, we must take every opportunity to work through the avenues that are already in place.

Though I'm sure all students have been receiving emails from the Office of the Provost, we will publish the schedule of events here for your convenience and to hammer home the importance of getting involved. I will try to work up something more extensive with links to the candidate's various involvement. The Underground will proudly serve you as a source throughout this search process.

-Jon Irons

The Office of the Provost is pleased to announce the following schedule of candidates for the two Associate Provost positions:

Associate Provost for Student Academic Affairs

March 16 – March 18
Kerry McKeeverAssociate Dean of the College
State University of New York (SUNY) at Geneseo
Open Forums for faculty, staff, and students will be held:March 17 - 10:45 a.m., Johnson Room; 2:00 p.m., Johnson Room

March 18 – March 20
Mary Ann Rasnak
Director, Academic Achievement and Access Center
University of Kansas
Open Forums for faculty, staff, and students will be held:March 19 - 10:45 a.m., Johnson Room; 3:15 p.m., Johnson Room

March 23 - March 24
Carol Hagans
Director, Counseling and Consultation Services
Butler UniversityOpen Forums for faculty, staff, and students will be held:March 23 – 10:00 a.m., Jordan Hall 083; 2:00 p.m., Jordan Hall 083

Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs and Interdisciplinary Program

March 23 – March 25
Lynn Maurer
Professor and Chair, Political ScienceSouthern Illinois University, Edwardsville
Open Forums for faculty, staff, and students will be held:
March 24 - 3:30 p.m., Gallahue 108
March 25 - 10:00 a.m., Johnson Room

March 25 – March 27
Laura BehlingDirector, John S. Kendall Center for Engaged Learning
Associate Professor and Chair, English
Gustavus Adolphus College
Open Forums for faculty, staff, and students will be held:
March 26 – 3:30 p.m., Jordan Hall 141
March 27 – 10:45 a.m., Jordan Hall 083

March 30 – April 1
Fahima Aziz Professor, Management and Economics
Alkire Chair in International Business and Economics
Hamline University
Open Forums for faculty, staff, and students will be held:
March 31 - 3:30 p.m., Johnson Room
April 1 – 9:30 a.m., Johnson Room


Myth Busting

There is a need to dispense with a dangerous myth that has spread itself throughout the Butler community.

As our statement of purpose makes clear, we at the Underground firmly believe that the voices of students and faculty have been suppressed and have lacked serious inclusion in the decision-making process.

Unfortunately, an alternate viewpoint seems to have taken hold with many. This position asserts that organizations like SGA and CPA and mechanisms like President Fong’s Starbucks forum provide avenues for the voices of community members to have substantial impact. This is fantasy.

It’s not that campus organizations and forums are unwelcome or are void of any influence. I know from personal experience that student groups can make positive change and I consider this a testament to the value of active participation. Furthermore, I think open forums with administrators are wonderful and too rare in universities around the country.

That said, we must harbor no illusions. It may be true that certain community members can organize concerts, start campus organizations, or “share their concerns” with administration officials; however, it’s imperative that we recognize four points:

1. Even many of the popular avenues of decision-making are not available to large segments of the Butler community.

This applies to students, faculty, and administrators and to virtually all campus employees.

Student decision-making power is largely confined to organizations like SGA and its subsidiaries. Even if we set aside the issue of the insufficient influence of these organizations, the fact remains that they in themselves are rather exclusive and hierarchical.

Supporting evidence can be found in the recent proposal to reduce the number of SGA representatives or in the platforms of recent SGA presidential candidates who advocated an even more condensed format for SGA assembly and debate.

Moreover, due to quantitative limits on representative and executive positions, only a small percentage of the student body is able to participate in the (inadequately effectual) decision-making process granted to students.

Although I believe it’s the place of others to speak on their own behalf (and we at the Underground encourage all to use this forum to do so), it should still be said that faculty, particularly those at the lower levels of the institutionalized corporate hierarchy, have also been subjected to the unmitigated power of high-level administrators and the board of trustees and have been relatively marginalized in the decision-making process.

Low-level administrators are in a unique position of disadvantage. As they are not paying customers (i.e. students) or highly trained professionals (PHDs, MBAs, etc), their labor can be erroneously considered “unskilled” and thus disposable in the event of insubordination, insufficient performance, or undesirable action.

The influence of campus employees in the university’s decision-making process is effectively zero. Although the lives of those in maintenance or food service are substantially affected by university policy, they lack a mechanism to exert their influence. Many campus employees, such as those cleaning academic buildings, work midnight shifts that guarantee they won’t even be seen by those who benefit from their services.

2. Real decision-making power continues to rest in the hands of high-level administrators and the board of trustees.

In any corporation, power is concentrated at the top. At Butler, this translates to the vice-presidents, the president, and, most importantly, the board of trustees. Within this exclusive group, the real decisions are made. Its members—mostly male, mostly white, mostly business background—are essentially the masters of the Butler universe. The big choices—involving investment, tuition, and enrollment—are made in the absence of voting representatives from the aforementioned segments of the Butler community. The process is far from transparent. Yet it continues, essentially shaping the direction of the university, with only the input of a handful of individuals.

3. Certain opinions and actions are continually suppressed by a competitive, hierarchical structure.

Let’s be clear. Though the department of public relations seems to be seeking the title, there are officially no information police at Butler. Aside from the occasional e-mail monitoring or mysterious blog disappearance, criticism and dissent are not consciously supervised or suppressed by malevolent ministers of truth.

That said, we at the Underground firmly believe that certain opinions and actions are effectively prohibited in our university community. This prohibition is rarely carried out by conscious individuals; rather, it is done subconsciously and its ultimate source is a competitive, hierarchical structure.

Rhetoric aside, competition is the emphasis of the corporate university—competition for promotions, for power, for money, for scholarships, for positions, for popularity, for elections, for grades. This has monumental effect on university education and thus on students and thus on society, but this is another matter in itself. In terms of repressing undesirable opinions, the competitive corporate model is a master censor.

Simply put, articulating an opinion not in line with the proper doctrine is a sure way to harm one’s chances of climbing the ranks of the hierarchy. It’s a dynamic that’s been well illustrated as inherent to the totalitarian structure. In a corporate university, you may not be dealt with like you would in the Third Reich, but you certainly run the risk of being passed over for a promotion, a grant, or an A.

4. Embracing fictitious notions of popular influence can be just as dangerous as having no influence at all.

Thought control is incredibly more effective than physical coercion. Someone who is chained, incarcerated, or tortured at least knows that injustice is taking place and will seek to redress it if given an opportunity.

Conversely, if you can control the way someone thinks, the way he or she perceives a certain situation, the very framework in which rational thought takes place, then not only can do as you please and make others do the same, but you can make them think it’s their natural place to do so, that all is right as it is, as it must be, as it should be, that it can be no other way.

This is the very danger present in the illusion of input and why it’s so essential that we adopt a realistic view of our influence.

- Caleb Hamman


Butler's Failing Grades

At the College Sustainability Report Card website, Butler received an overall grade of 'D' and we received no specific grade over a 'C.'

This is an independent organization that reviews university sustainability in terms of "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." It becomes clear that an important aspect of this is environmental concerns; categories include Climate Change and Energy, Green Building and Food and Recycling. Clearly our failing grade is not something to be proud of. I encourage you browse this report, and compare Butler to other Indiana institutions (like Purdue University, which received a 'B+').

I discuss this to make a larger point. The language in our statement of purpose is strong and some might worry that individual instances (like those surrounding the True BU posts) do not involved large enough groups or are too specific to elicit broad response. This kind of thinking leads to situations where university administrators run amok and begin to rule an institution from the top down. Further, if we were to accept this near-apathetic logic, how could we react to the discovery of failing reports like the one posted above? I am unsure when this report was released, but I doubt that Butler publicized it, especially to students and donators. With the situation as it is, the administration would have no reason to and it is easier for administrators to control the university if their failings are kept quiet.

I should add specifically that the Student Involvement grade was a 'D.' Is this a sign of a student body with a role in making the university? Our ability to exercise a meaningful voice here goes beyond our present niches into the realm of sustainability for the future. This failing environmental report is not an issue for LAS or JCFA or for ECO, but for the student body and university community at large. While this grade falls on our shoulders, I do not think the university is fostering an environment to engender such involvement. This is terribly troublesome.

One final note on this report: There are two sections of special interest to the Underground, Endowment Transparency and Shareholder Engagement. The former grades institutions in terms of "free flow of information" with respect to the endowment ($163 million as of 2007 for Butler). The latter determines how responsibly the university is investing money; most importantly by emphasizing humane and eco-friendly investment. In both of these sections Butler received an 'F.' Epic fail. There are no policies in place to make this information known to the public or Butler community. Not to become redundant but it seems we are, once again, left in the dark as far as Butler's spending and investment ethics are concerned.

The first section of the report sums up my concern best:

President Fong reaffirmed Butler University's commitment to environmental responsibility in a recent open letter to the university community. Butler has no policies relating to campus-wide sustainability initiatives.

It seems the president is all talk and no action, something which has concerned me with regards to Butler's image as a Liberal Arts institution as well. He offers friendly words which represent Butler as an idyllic place, but hidden within a painstaking Google search is a different reality. With no viable means of holding him accountable, why would we expect anything different? I urge you to address this report with Dr. Fong in his next open forum, if not sooner in an email. This report is unacceptable and if we can find no avenue at this time to address it, we must work to establish one.

-Jon Irons


A Brief History of Dissent

The Underground did not come about out of thin air. We, The Dissenters, began it in reaction to a series of events that transpired in the Fall semester of 2008. In early November, an epic drama began to play out in the School of Music, the likes of which rivaled even Homer’s imagination. By the end of the month and into early December the drama reached its height: Dr. Andrea Gullickson was relieved of her position as Chair of the School of Music under the most complex and unclear circumstances.

News of this shocked and upset students and faculty within the Jordan College of Fine Arts (JFCA). It was at this time that a little known and rarely active blog suddenly came to life. The True BU, as it was called, began publishing news of “Music Gate” as well as correspondence between the faculty of administration. Soon, students organized a sit-in to address their concerns to the dean of JCFA. During this time, the author of the blog, Soodo Nym, continued updating the True BU regularly featuring entries and responses from various faculty and students. One of the main contentions of the blog was that Dean Alexander deliberately chose the week of final exams to remove Gullickson so that student reaction would be limited. But, as winter break came, Soodo Nym kept publishing and many students, including myself, remained raw over the situation.

Then, in early January, certain Facebook statuses alerted to me to the fact that the True BU had shut down. Indeed, I was unable to load the blog page or elicit a response from the Gmail account. As the semester resumed, the Butler Collegian reported the story about Dr. Gullickson’s removal and it seemed that the matter had calmed down. This may have been due to several reasons: First, just before classes resumed for the spring, Dr. Dan Bolin was named Chair of the School of Music; second, University Public Relations and the involved parties were never willing to speak openly on the matter.

Finally, on Feburary 25th, the Collegian published a story about the administration reading Jess Zimmerman's e-mail, suspecting that he had sent threatening e-mails to certain administrators. It was also widely presumed that he was associated in some way with Soodo-Nym, which is now understood to be a group of students.

Thus, not only were we saddened that students were deprived of this blog, the likes of which exposed the reality of the brutal politics of academia, but we believed (and continue to believe) that administrators (that is, Bobby Fong and Levester Johnson) had a hand in coercing Soodo Nym to shut down the blog. Without the blog, students could only be told that the situation was a “personnel matter” and for that reason could not be legally discussed. We were left in the dark, the underground.

The Underground is a statement that an academic community should be allowed such a forum fed by personal opinion, political transpiring, student response and faculty input. We should not be kept in the dark about these personnel matters that directly affect the fabric of our education and experience at the university. We should have full knowledge and power of voice about what makes Butler, Butler. To this end, we will begin by reclaiming the last 8 entries of the True BU which address the hubbub of Music Gate. We will not let this story go untold and we will probe to make sure this community is not left in the dark again.

– Jon Irons
Senior, Anthropology