Look around you — while first-year students are welcoming the sights and sounds of their new home and upperclassmen are hugging their returning classmates, it’s time we stop to reflect on Xavier University as the very unique entity that it is.
As you walk through campus for your first or your 101st time, you won’t see a row of Greek houses; there is no colossal football stadium full of screaming fans with painted bodies; and one might notice the absence of an echoing lecture hall with 500 empty seats. For reasons like these, one might think that Xavier University doesn’t offer the “traditional college experience” — and they would be correct.
Xavier University is an institution established in the tradition of Jesuit higher education whose mission is outlined in its mantra, “Men and Women For Others.” There is a church, Bellarmine Chapel, seated at the heart of campus with everything academic and recreational built around it. Such a layout makes the focus of the university hard to miss — keep God at the center of everything you do.
So where does that leave you as a student? Very few young adults entering college feel comfortable with their faith, whether that be Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism or otherwise, yet you are stepping into a university that is named for a Catholic saint and prides itself on its religious values. The idea itself can be quite overwhelming at first, but you don’t have to be an observant Catholic — or an observant of any faith — to become educated as a man or woman for others and step out into the world as an alumnus of Xavier University.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the Jesuit tradition is the idea of magis. It is a Latin word meaning “more” or “better” and is offered as an intangible goal that one should continually strive for throughout his or her lifetime. Translating this idea to your life as a college student isn’t difficult — strive for more in everything that you do. While this concept can seem a bit preachy, keep in mind that its primary purpose is self-betterment in your own world. Join your Manresa group when they go out for sushi even if you’ve never really eaten fish. Invite a professor to grab lunch in the caf and discuss an area of their expertise that especially interests you. Join your brothers and sisters in faith at their mosque, church or temple and immerse yourself in unfamiliar faith traditions.
Therein lies the difference of Xavier University. True success as outlined by the university isn’t measured in letters or numbers, but rather your acceptance of and willingness to serve the unfamiliar. Stepping out of your comfort zone and building new experiences is only the beginning — you are getting to know others. Armed with these experiences and this great knowledge, you can help those that you have come to know, and together we can serve the world as men and women for others.