A frank discussion about campus climate and hate speech inspired a University of Nebraska-Lincoln employee to design wearable buttons that herald diversity and inclusion.
At her desk after a Feb. 9 listening session led by university administrators, Cindy Miesbach felt a call to action. Using PowerPoint, she printed out a simple message - I value diversity. You are safe with me. Using packaging tape and an old pinback button, she created a new button and began wearing it around campus.
“Sitting in that meeting and listening to people talk about their experiences helped me realize how much I don’t know about life outside of my own world,” said Miesbach, a business operations specialist with business and finance. “I walked away wanting everyone to know that I’m willing to listen, willing to learn from their experiences. I wanted people to know that they’re safe with me, that I’ll do whatever I can to help.”
When Karen Kassebaum, director of staff diversity and inclusion through human resources, stepped across the hall to see the button, she knew the concept could make an impact.
“Cindy was fired up after that meeting and I could see the passion in her eyes,” Kassebaum said. “The message on her button was perfect and I knew it would be a valuable tool for staff to show support for diversity and inclusion.”
Kassebaum wore Miesbach’s homemade button to the student-led “Hate Will Never Win” rally on Feb. 14. She also posted images of the button on social media channels. Positive feedback from those interactions spurred Kassebaum to use her own money to order 1,000 buttons - half heralding a value for diversity, the other half inclusion. All 1,000 finishing with a “You are safe with me” pledge.
Now, Kassebaum and Miesbach are making the buttons available to staff employees.
“Daily interactions between staff and students are among the most important on campus,” Kassebaum said. “By simply wearing these buttons, staff can help alleviate some of the stress that students may be feeling about the campus climate.”
The design is also available if individuals, departments or units wish to order additional copies.