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Interview: ZRE’s New Year’s Resolutions

By: Soondos Mulla-Ossman ~Staff Writer~

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Photo courtesy of facebook.com | Ryan Fitzgerald (left), Zeina Farhat (middle) and Eduardo Patron (right) serve as co-Vice President, President and co-Vice President, respectively, of the Student Government Association. One of their biggest priorities right now is the “It’s on X” campaign to address sexual assault alongside the Cincinnati Task Force’s “It’s on Us” campaign. “I think we’re excited to work,” Patron said. “…It’s not a job — it’s something we’re really enjoying ourselves doing.”

Both at its core and at the fringes, ZRE remains wholly committed to every word on its platform. Student Government Association’s (SGA) 2017 Executive team soundly affirmed this in an energized meeting with me last week on Jan 17.

While some may have fresh New Year’s resolutions, perhaps to fix the flaws in old habits, ZRE ended fall semester with a healthy platform that they’ve only further polished since spring semester began.

As both the very first item listed on their platform and a major focus during the campaign, I opened up the interview with whether or not “It’s on X” was still a priority.

This initiative focuses on addressing of sexual assault through greater education, improved resources, including By-Men-For- Men programming, and the unification of student organizations.

“We are getting ready to roll out the ‘It’s on X’ campaign,” President Zeina Farhat assured. “We’re making it a priority, absolutely.”

They had actually just come out of a meeting concerning the initiative, which included Director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion Taj Smith, Assistant Director Kelsey O’Neal and Advocacy and Prevention Coordinator Paisley Scarberry. Additionally, ZRE Vice President Ryan Fitzgerald had attended a Cincinnati Task Force meeting at City Hall that morning. The meeting focused on the “It’s on Us” campaign, which Fitzgerald described as “the local representation of the ‘It’s on X Campaign.’”

The executive team is now sitting members of that committee, allowing them to be involved at the city level and bring ideas and opportunities to the Xavier community.

This led into my next question: Between fall and now, has the team gained any valuable insights or surprises? The question was met with resounding chuckles.

“We have been busy since August planning for a platform,” Zeina said first, “and then right when we got elected, it started. Even though we weren’t sworn into office, we were still setting up meetings … We have a ton of meetings — we had three today.”

Ryan went on to explain, “During the election we made it a priority to meet with administrators and meet with people important to issues on our platform. Since then we’ve gained the access to a lot of information that we didn’t have while we were running … We had our proposals, we thought they were good ideas, and then we get in here and we realize ‘OK, well this is what’s realistic’… For example, we met with the deans today, and since the incidences of bias that have happened, it’s come up that people want diversity inclusion curriculum put in the coursework. And so having a conversation with the deans about that, you get a totally different perspective.”

Data is needed to back up that students actually want and would vote for ideas like increasing the size of the core, the faculty becoming responsible for setting the curriculum and the list goes on. Vice President Eduardo Patron also provided his thoughts, piggybacking off Ryan.

“It’s a lot more of action than preparation,” Patron said. “It’s nice to see that initiatives are actually taking place and that we’re talking to people that actually get these initiatives moving, and the ‘It’s on X’ campaign I think is the one we’re most excited about right now.”

I asked what the very first thing students were going to see from the ZRE team would be.

Zeina responded first: “I think they’re going to see SGA a way more active, way more present body on campus than it has in the past, because although the internal changes within SGA are obviously not as visible to the student body, only visible to the people really on SGA… we are doing so many things to make SGA more transparent.”

As just one example, Zeina points out that Eduardo takes notes at every meeting and that they are available online for any student to see at xavier.edu/sga. As far as platforms, Ryan recalls when the Newswire asked whether or not ZRE thought it could get everything that it listed done.

“Our goal is not to achieve these things. It’s not a one year process. We don’t have the ability to build the depths of the projects we’re working on, [due to the time constraints of their short term] but we have the ability to lay the groundwork.” When I asked for final thoughts or a message they wanted to share with the student body, I received a warm response from Eduardo.

“I think we’re excited to work …

It’s not a job — it’s something we’re really enjoying ourselves doing.”

Zeina affirmed, “I want the student body to know that we are working hard to make sure that student voices are heard, and we don’t take this office lightly … We are going to use this office and we’re actually going to get things done.”

Ryan wishes to remind the student body that anyone is welcome to come in at any time and ask what the executive team is doing. He mentioned that anyone is also welcome to come and sit at Senate meetings, which he states is currently under-utilized.

“We’re all about making it more accessible,” Ryan said.

Senate meetings are from 3-5 p.m. on Mondays in GSC 214. If students are unable to attend but still wish to know what was underway, they can find meeting notes on xavier.edu/student-involvement/ sga/Meeting-Minutes2.cfm.

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