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