Saturday, October 17, 2009

Open Discourse

Today, I want to answer a few questions. The first, and the one that is asked most often, is what I wanted to accomplish when I started The True BU blog. Instead of trying to remember what I was thinking a year ago, I’ll let you read the first post on that blog, and then I’ll talk a bit about it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The description of this blog reads:

This blog is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for Butler University is not an adventure for those who stand face to face with it. It will simply try to tell the true, anonymous stories of Butler University. It's the truth. It's good. It's bad. It's real.

I stand by that. This blog will be fact. It will be opinion. It will be yours and it will be mine.

This blog will tell stories of Butler University. It can be a resource for information and anecdotes. It can be a tool for prospective students to use during their college selection and it can be a tool for current students who want to know what is really going on. It can be a launching pad for revolution or a coffeehouse of complacency. Only the true conditions at BU will determine the outcome.

This is not a forum for attack, it is a forum for truth. Please refrain from making ad hominem attacks. They do not further discussion or dialogue and they will not be tolerated. I will talk about anything I feel like: Student Government Association, Butler administration/faculty, sporting events, greek life, non-greek life, The Collegian, Dawgnet, random events, and random things. Some posts may be topografical, others superficial, and even others may be somewhat personal.

If you want be a contributer to True BU, Email

I will be anonymous. You may be anonymous.

I welcome you to submit your stories and thoughts for posting. I won't censor and I won't judge. I won't ask for your identification. You can be called whatever you want to be called. Email them to

Til we next meet,
Soodo Nym
Posted by Soodo Nym at 10:37 AM

As you can see, all that I had figured out when I started the blog was that I wanted people to feel free to discuss anything. I hoped the blog would provide an outlet for members of the Butler community to express themselves. I was open to anything: There was no grand scheme or overarching plot. I just wanted to see if we could create a space for honest online discussion and I wanted to let it evolve without too much prodding from me. That evolution was an interesting one, and one that I will touch on in the future.

A Butler Blogger (linked on the right), ChristinaL, answers another one of the questions that I have been asked a number of times. A reporter from the Indianapolis Star was probably most direct: He asked me why I haven’t transferred from Butler.

I wish that my answer to that question had made it into the story that was published this morning. (I've linked to it on the right.) I told him that Butler is not comprised of just one thing. It is not just the students, just the administration, or just the faculty. It’s not just one college or department: It’s a community to which I am very proud to belong.

My time at Butler is not something I would trade for a stint on any other college campus. My friends here are some of the smartest, most supportive, inquisitive, and fun people I’ve met in my life. My professors have taught me to think critically and to ask questions: The hallmarks of a good education. I’ve gone with students and faculty to do literally hundreds of hours of community service in Indianapolis. Yes, it’s possible that if I were on another campus, I would feel similarly about my experiences and friends there. But the fact is, the people here have become my friends and have helped to define who I am. I have no desire to give any of that up.

It is because of all of the positive things that go on at Butler that I’m willing to talk about some problems here, and I encourage all of you to do the same in whatever community in which you are a part. To ignore negative things is to be adverse to change and to advancement; to talk about them is to make an effort to better our community. Well-intentioned dissent is healthy because it leads to introspection and progress. It helps to further lines of communication and it enables everybody to see a debate from many angles. When all segments of the population are allowed to be a part of the conversation, we are all richer and the likelihood that there may be positive solutions is greatly enhanced. That is what The True BU developed into and that is what I believe this blog is: A different perspective.

ChristinaL understands and epitomizes this. She said much of what I am thinking. Her title, “In support of Open Discourse” is exactly what I hoped to accomplish with The True BU and, now, hope to do with this blog. Like her, I believe that Butler would be a stronger place, a better place, and an even more interesting place if the administration shared that perspective and allowed alternative voices to be heard. Taking aggressive steps to silence those voices ends up silencing more than a single individual; it keeps people from ever trying to speak.


  1. very nice Jess, and a lot of people are behind you on this. I was actually required to read a book this summer called "LISTENING IS AN ACT OF LOVE" It does make sense that taking time to listen to what one individual may think would 1) impact the community and 2) encourage awareness of what concerns, problems, and even praises need to be attended to.

  2. I am a Butler Alumna who discovered your story purely by accident through Facebook, and I just wanted to write here how proud I am that you are doing what you are doing, and that you did what you did. During my four years at Butler I watched a lot of goings-on in the Jordan College of Fine Arts that I did not appreciate: watched excellent professors lose battles for tenure, watched faulty decisions get made, and generally did not appreciate many of the actions that the Dean made in his time there. There was often a sense of the arts in their fullest form being discouraged or covered up in an effort to remain political.

    Thank you for commenting on that; there was very little at the time that I felt I could do to fight what I saw as injustice, and it's good to see that someone felt the need to speak out against that which may not be quite right at what is a very, very good university (and one I'm proud to call my Alma Mater).

    Thank you.

  3. I have a friend who attends Butler, and she sent me the link to this blog.

    As a student of another university, I want to thank you for what you are doing. Far too often, "respect" for others has been an excuse to clamp down on honest discourse and dissent, and administration officials regularly exploit concerns about harmful speech in order to insulate themselves against criticism. Part of me hopes that Butler officials come to their senses, but another part hopes that they take this issue to trial and suffer a high-profile loss that will send a message to higher education that students retain the right to critique and criticize their leaders.

    I applaud you for being able to distinguish the short-sighted political actions of a few bureaucrats from the true spirit of the community which you are seeking to defend. You are a great credit to your school and I hope that you will continue watching over your alma mater after you graduate.

    P.S. Open comment to Butler administration: The image problems Zimmerman has created for you are nothing compared to the image problems your lawsuit has created. You are going to take a beating in the court of public opinion. Just a piece of friendly advice.

  4. Jess,
    I applaud your courage. Your free thought and determination is inspiring to individuals who have graduated, for students currently enrolled, and the many generations of bulldogs to come. During my time at Butler, I was also faced with harsh criticism for some of the things I participated in. Though it may not seem worth it now, your persistance will pay-off in the future. Keep your head up Jess. I am proud to be a fellow bulldog.

  5. Hey Jess - Keep up the good fight throughout the silliness of all this. The good and the truth will prevail, but let's hope in the mean time that this ridiculous lawsuit is dropped. I'm sure the admin. has more important things to attend to than this lawsuit.

  6. I am a Butler senior, and I have seen too many poor administrative decisions over the past few years. I, like many others, were outraged and confused at both the reassignments of Dr. Gullickson and Dr. Zimmerman, and to think that they have further aggravated the situation by dragging you into the fray is simply ludicrous. I am a relative stranger to your blog, but from what I have read, this is an obvious administrative error, and a blatant one at that. What you say is honest and reasonable, and you should be commended for that, not legally silenced. Another thing--and please correct me if I'm wrong--I was told that Dr. Fong responded to the situation by claiming that taking legal action at this time could prevent another Virginia Tech incident. Again, this could be false, but if not, I feel that the President of our fine institution owes countless people apologies for a gaping verbal misstep.

    Please keep fighting the good fight; more people need to take more stands in this world. Whether words from a rich bureaucrat or from a poor student, free speech is free speech.

    JCFA supports you,