By: Raymond Humienny ~Campus News Editor~
SGA’s “Your School, Your Questions” panel resembled a televised political debate, with students posing questions to Xavier administrators in real time.
Attendance at the Student Government Association (SGA)-sponsored event filled the Gallagher Student Center (GSC) atrium and first floor as students sought responses to the campus issues they find most important.
The administrative panel consisted 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. Prior to the discussion, Graham commended the SGA executives’ efforts in producing the event.
“One of the issues there’s been is sort of a lack of information and communication between administration and students, especially student leadership,” Graham said. “That’s fairly easily solved, so it’s just a matter of having someone come up with the great idea to do (a panel).”
To kick off the event, the panelists addressed questions submitted via SGA’s online survey. This section was divided into three categories: Space and facility on campus, tuition and affordability and the future of Xavier.
Space & Facility
In response to the increased demand for event space, Dave Johnson said that GSC renovation initiatives are still in motion. It has been the responsibility of the Student Life Committee and the Office of Student Involvement to help maintain the initiatives’ progress, according to Johnson. Additionally, Graham said that a subsidy could abate the $100 GSC Theater support staff fee for student organizations wanting to use that space.
Chadwick and Lori Johnson clarified the decision-making process behind school cancellations due to inclement weather. Additionally, Lori Johnson emphasized the importance of safety during the winter season.
“For those of you who are commuters or anyone with mobility challenges who live on campus, if you don’t think it’s safe to get onto campus and if you’ve run into challenges with your faculty, you can reach out to Dave and I,” Lori Johnson said. “We do hear this from students who are concerned about missing a class, but they’re also worried about getting in their car and driving to campus. So know that we’re here and want to support that for you.”
Tuition & Affordability
The panel stressed that raising tuition is not the goto option for budgeting. The discussion segued to sustainability efforts, and Graham explained the cost efficient strategies Xavier has taken to reduce its carbon footprint.
“As a Jesuit-Catholic university, we have a responsibility to lead by example,” Graham said. “Compared to where we were in the space of seven or eight years, we’ve come a long, long way. A place that we’re kind of playing is an intersection between sustainability and community engagement efforts. That’s a place where I believe we can make a great contribution to the conversation overall.”
Future of Xavier
The panel addressed the challenges they face acting as orchestrators of Xavier’s operations. Chadwick expressed his satisfaction with educating professors about Canvas and expanding Xavier’s international presence alongside Lori Johnson’s accomplishments with TRiO, a program offering services to first-generation students, low-income students and students with disabilities.
Additionally, Chadwick addressed concerns about gentrification following the establishment of the XHaus, a flexible space for use by the Center for Innovation, on Walnut Ave. in Over-the-Rhine.
“The (new) owners of the building came to Xavier and said ‘We want to use the building as a part of a start-up community and provide space for people who want to live and develop companies, and would (Xavier) be willing to come down here to help us make that effort happen and help revitalize OTR?,’” Chadwick said. “The eviction of the people in the building before and the new tenants coming in are independent, though it may not look that way to people who are seeing it from the outside.”
The question-and-answer panel transitioned later in the night to field student questions in an open-mic session. In the wake of high-profile racial tension at University of Missouri and Yale, many questions dealt with diversity and inclusion on campus.
“If we don’t get this right, we are not Xavier University,” Graham said, referring to implementing Title IX statutes and having dialogue about race on campus.
Closing questions included the significance of the Center for Innovation compared to alternatives such as a social work center. Chadwick explained how the center ties together the three colleges that are part of it and its faculty’s efforts are bolstering community outreach.
There was a request for increased transparency regarding financial decision made by the Board of Trustees. Graham said that conversations are ongoing about this subject, adding that it’s important to determine who should actually be given access to this information.