In Support of the Sportula’s Statement on the Paideia Institute

Liz Butterworth
2 min readOct 2, 2019

I write to express my support for the Sportula’s statement on the Paideia Institute. I worked at Paideia from September 2014 until March 2018, first as a Development Officer and, later, as the Director of Development. I admire everyone who has shared a difficult and deeply personal experience in an effort to protect future students from harm. I also admire anyone who did not share, but who suffered Paideia’s exclusionary practices as a deeply unfair price for furthering academic and professional goals.

Although I, like the Sportula, cannot verify the anonymous testimonials, I believe them. I recognize in them elements both of my own experiences and of incidents that I witnessed. The accounts of extreme expressions of racism, homophobia, misogyny, and other exclusionary ideologies are difficult to read, but they are neither surprising nor out of line with my memories of the environment at Paideia and its detrimental impact on students and staff. I ultimately decided to resign because I could not hold a leadership position in an organization when I profoundly disagreed with its approach to Human Resources and felt that it did not sufficiently prioritize inclusion and equity.

I am grateful for the opportunities I had to work with wonderful students, instructors, staff members, and volunteers during my time at Paideia. From my perspective, the best possible outcome would be the existence of a non-profit organization with a diverse staff that is committed to building an inclusive academic community and to fostering a healthy and fully professionalized office culture.

Unfortunately, given my experiences, I am in agreement with the Sportula’s assessment of the institutional practices and interpersonal dynamics at the Paideia Institute. I am grateful for the efforts of the Sportula, and of everyone who contributed to their statement, to re-make the discipline as one that is not merely welcoming of, but at the deepest level constructed by the voices of women, students of color, students from working-class backgrounds, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and members of other marginalized groups.