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


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. This blog is meant to be a "free flow of information", yet you have already removed a post from a blogger? Did that person have something to say that intimidated you? Did they not agree with you? So much for sharing ideas...

  3. Thank you for your comment, Anonymous. If you check the Butler Ungerground Facebook group, you'll see that a member had a problem posting a comment. I visited the blog after signing out of my Google accounts, so I could access the blog as a non-user. I then posted a test comment to see if there was a problem. In an attempt to keep the blog looking clean and professional, I removed the comment. I assure you that this removed comment is not an example of intimidation or censorship, but rather of maintenance and trial and error. You'll have to take my word for it. If you're still unconvinced I could forward you the email alerting me to the comment (and containing the timestamp and text of the comment). Of course this would be difficult given your anonymity. I apologize for the confusion.


  4. The Butler Rising campaign is also widely misrepresented to donors. It is not merely a name for the current effort to raise funds for all of Butler. A few schools and departments benefit from it, and donors who think they're giving back to those departments and activities that meant the most to them are occasionally mistaken, and not corrected. butler's fundraisers don't even know this. Just a note on the subject of transparency.

    Also! I have no doubts at all about the student involvement failing grade. How many students wanted Butler to keep them on campus another year? None. The real point was to weed out students from a certain economic class (thank you Office of Enrollment Management, whatever the heck that means) by forcing them to pay for the Apartment Village or transfer.

    When I spoke to Dr. Johnson, he essentially pawned off the decision on SGA, as though it were students' own fault that the administration was engaging in this kind of weeding. I think it's far more appropriate to conclude that SGA and students in general just plain didn't have a say.

  5. Colbalt, I think you've missed the point of the "Student Involvement" grade. Although your point makes sense, it is actually irrelevant to the score-card, which is measuring sustainability. The score reflects student involvement in making Butler a green campus- In theory it's pointing some blame at us for not taking a greater role in Butler's drive to be an environmentally conscious campus. And are we to blame? I still find way too many cans and plastic bottles in our classroom trash cans, when recycling bin is only 20' away in the hall- I think it's fair that students are receiving some of the blame.

    Being aware of Butler's receipt of a grade for this sort of thing finally gives me an idea of why this school year we suddenly had all of those "Butler goes Green" things (new recycling dumpster behind Clowes, the little box van with the slogan on it, the signs etc) pop up. At least it motivated the administration to step in and help ECO finally get more proper recycling sites in around campus.