By: Raymond Humienny ~Campus News Editor~
After the resignation of University of Missouri president Timothy Wolfe in the wake of student and faculty protests, the transparency of university administrations is in the spotlight nationwide. In an effort to increase transparency on Xavier’s campus, students and administrators will partner to hold an event where students can address administrators directly about issues on campus. Student Government Association (SGA) will host “Your School, Your Questions,” a question-and-answer panel with Xavier leadership.
“The event pretty much created itself in a way. You walk around campus and you hear students really just guessing at the reasonings behind things and not really knowing,” SGA legislative vice president Josh DeVincenzo said. “Being a part of SGA, we have a great benefit of knowing the inside scoop of the administration, but for the common student who doesn’t have those freedoms, they really don’t know and they really rely on rumors for explanation.”
The panel is comprised of Xavier president Fr. Michael Graham, chief academic officer Scott Chadwick, chief student affairs officer Dave Johnson and assistant provost for student enrichment Lori Johnson.
“We’re really trying to engage the student body into an inclusive community where we’re all on the same level of knowledge,” DeVincenzo said. The event bolsters SGA’s presence on campus, according to DeVincenzo. He said his successor Michael Quigley looks to continue “Your School, Your Questions” in the future.
“Relevance, transparency, both; we just really want the students to understand big initiatives going on on campus,” DeVincenzo said. Regarding student opinions on Xavier initiatives, DeVincenzo said that it is important for students to look past rumors about initiatives like large-scale campus renovations.
“Rumors might not be the best word to describe it, but when people come onto campus after the summer and see these new additions, they might want to know why, per se, something like the stairs are relevant,” DeVincenzo said. “A lot of these things are big initiatives that are going on in administration that don’t have answers yet, and sometimes students feel inclined to spread the word on answers they may have heard about, but let’s go to the source where you can actually hear the most relevant and up to date responses for those questions.”
The conversation is not limited to school finances and budgeting. Given the range of potential questions, AFJ created an online survey asking students to submit their inquiries beforehand. After a screening process, these questions will be addressed during the “completely uncensored Q&A,” according to DeVincenzo. There will also be an open-mic Q&A session during the event.
“We’ve gotten some really phenomenal questions, some that I hadn’t even thought about,” DeVincenzo said. “It takes a lot of collaboration, openness and confidence in the student body and the administration to put together an event like this, but I have full faith that the administration will be able to perform under this kind of pressure. And the students; I honestly thought putting out a SurveyMonkey would yield a lot of funny responses, but I was shocked and very proud of the student body that all the questions have been very critical ones.”
So far, questions submitted via SurveyMonkey have ranged from inquiries on sustainability to concerns about physical plant winter materials. The online survey is now closed and no additional questions can be submitted.
“The goal of this event is to create a community,” DeVincenzo said. “We want to bring the human element to the administration, and there’s going to be something symbolic about that. We’re going to have everyone on the same level, not putting the administrators up on stage or anything like that. They’ll be on the floor at a table with everyone who’s on the ground sitting.”
Additionally, DeVincenzo shared questions he would personally ask administrators.
“How have our motives been changed throughout the pressures to be a competitive university, in the sense that there’s a lot of pressure for tuition to go up and benchmark Xavier to other schools, but there’s a lot of loss for that. Our education may not be as accessible to a diverse pool, so diversity takes a hit for that,” DeVincenzo said. “How can we balance things the most productive way as a Jesuit university to keep our identity here?”
“Your School, Your Questions,” takes place from 7-8:30 p.m. on Nov. 11 in the Gallagher Student Center Atrium.