By: Henry Eden ~Staff Writer~
A 14:1 black-to-white student ratio at Xavier’s “Becoming White” event weeks ago has sparked a deep discussion on racial identity.
Additionally, an international student survey has shown that although members of the Xavier community feel that their environment is welcoming to foreign students, relatively few individuals have interacted with students enrolled in the Intensive English program.
The Newswire addressed these concerns to four members of Alternative Breaks (XUAB): Selma, XUAB’s newest location that explores social issues and civil rights from past to present.
Although the location of the trip lends itself to discussion on racial issues, the students and faculty members involved in the trip have no intention of limiting it to that. Student members of the AB Selma trip Timothy Cyron and Megan McNulty both spoke of the importance of discussing all kinds of privilege and being able to look at it in a way that allows people to make a difference. They also mentioned the significance of reflection when becoming a social ally.
“It’s important for me, because a lot of the time I don’t really see how my privilege is different from people of different races, or other disadvantages,” Cyron said. “Don’t think of that as a downside, just think about how that affects you differently from those who don’t have the same privilege as you.”
“Its one thing to go on this trip to participate, but its another to go along and reflect.” McNulty said. “It’s a trip to get us involved, and after that in order to really become an ally, we take what we’ve learned and reflected on and see how we can continue to help the cause while we’re here at Xavier.”
One way that XUAB: Selma hopes to accomplish this is by working with the Random Acts of Theatre Company (RATCo), an organization in Selma that teaches younger community members to artistically express themselves through dance and creativity, as opposed to getting involved with the negative, destructive activities.
“Instead of doing things they probably shouldn’t be doing, they can find joy in dance.” Selma site leader Luz Peredo-Muniz said.
The group additionally created a “Check Your Privilege” movement to help Xavier students to identify their circumstantial benefits along with their intersectional identity. While advertising their trip, the team shared an advertisement outlining different privileges students might have, including racial, gender and disability privileges.
“Becoming aware of privilege should not be viewed as a burden of guilt, but rather an opportunity to learn and be responsible so that we may work toward a more just and inclusive world,” the ad said.
The XUAB: Selma trip will strive to accomplish just that. XUAB development and fundraising chair Michael McGrath will provide a follow-up to the group’s experience following spring break.