By: Hannah Paige Michels ~Staff Writer~
While weeks have passed since racist images originally surfaced on Xavier’s campus, Black Student Association (BSA) is making strides to keep the conversation current. Having met with Father Michael Graham and talked with historians, BSA aims to make the conversation about action and not just discussion.
According to senior Jeremiah Pennebaker, President of BSA, the organization has met with alumni and advisers and has plans in the works for changes they’d like to see on campus.
“We truly believe that Xavier is in an interesting place where they could take the next step and be one of the pioneers in creating a racial dialogue and racially just school that pushes the envelope on the teachings of racism,” says Pennebaker. “We are trying to hold Xavier to its core values of educating the whole person.”
Pennebaker believes Xavier needs more than a select few courses in diversity. “There needs to be an expansion of how we teach and what we teach.” Pennebaker said.
Speaking on behalf of BSA’s mission, Pennebaker emphasizes the importance of having diversity be an integral part of Xavier’s education and experience.
Rhandi Wallace, junior and BSA member, says Xavier could improve by adding studies of minorities into the curriculum.
“If we’re going to go to a school where we value diversity but are not actually requiring our students to learn about those things…we’re not going to be able to live up to the standard that we hold ourselves up to,” Wallace said.
On Wallace’s point, Pennebaker added that Xavier should have race, gender, and sexuality be key in everyday studies and not just in courses specifically tailored to diversity.
“Have the everyday business class talk about how there are racist practices that prevent black men and women from getting into certain positions in business. Talk about gender and wage gap in everyday economics classes.” Pennebaker said.
“Race and gender applies to each subject, no matter what subject it is,” Pennebaker said. “[Diversity] has to be a pervasive thing so that everybody’s learning about it, it’s not just an extracurricular.”
On implementing more diversity studies in the core curriculum, junior and BSA Vice President Kaelan Doolan gave his thoughts.
“Given a lot of the things we’ve uncovered about the history of Xavier, this would be a huge step forward on trying to push for a more multicultural and racially sensitive form of equation.” Doolan said.
“You need to put emphasis on how severe and real, the key word being real, these biases are.”
Wallace suggests having readings for incoming first-years centered on issues of justice.
In regard to Xavier’s Jesuit values on justice and solidarity, Wallace said, “It’s important to let students know what they’re getting themselves into before they start [at Xavier].”
“BSA will be holding the university accountable,” Pennebaker said. “This is not something we will let just go under the rug and forget about next year. We will be constantly making sure the university holds itself up to these standards.”
Discussing the racist images in November, Doolan said “Regardless of the school’s decision regarding the disciplinary process for the parties involved, any future policy being held, we have plans for any type of situation they have…We are very well-prepared for any future hurdles that the university, or otherwise, may throw our way.”
“If the school allows students to forget about this then it’s going to happen again,” Wallace said.
To cap off one of its most successful semesters to date, BSA will wrap up this year with an open mic tonight in the Arrupe Overlook at 6 p.m. BSA holds meetings Wednesdays from 5-7 p.m. with a new meeting location to be announced for next semester.
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