SGA Executive Platform: VMR

Photo courtesy of Xavier University | The full executive platform of VMR.

Editor’s Note: The following text has not been edited and is provided as written by VMR. Only the formatting has been changed.


Improved Safety Measures

Our campus and community has experienced a recent spike in crime and VMR feels the university needs to re-evaluate their outlook on the safety policies of our campus. In order to foster a safer environment, there needs to be direct action toward the issues that have caused students to become unsure about their safety at our university.

VMR is striving to solve the problems within these given areas:

Blue Lights

Possible installation of additional blue lights on the edge of our campus; for instance, along Dana Avenue or Cleneay Avenue. This will allow for off-campus residents to have a better connection to XUPD, in light of a life threatening incident, or even if they just feel remotely unsafe.

We also feel that the general lighting of campus is neglectful to certain areas like The Village. There have been a number of students who have complained about feeling unsafe when walking to their Village apartments at night because it is so poorly lit. VMR feels that there should more adequate lighting leading to the Village to ease students’ minds.

Meeting the Officers of XUPD

All Xavier students should know the individuals who are watching over their beloved campus. Each year SGA will conduct a ceremony that showcases all the new and old faces of XUPD. The entire administrative staff and the student body are all invited to meet the people who are responsible for their safety on campus.

Collaboration with Norwood Police

We feel that combination of XUPD and Norwood PD training would be best if used in collaboration to do a better job of locating the suspect in these crimes around campus. Often we are informed via XU Alert Me that the suspect has not been located and this needs to change. When a suspect who has just committed a crime is not located, it puts the Xavier population at risk.

XU Alerts

The notifications from XU Alert Me need to contain greater detailed about the event(s) that recently transpired. Providing students with a greater description of where and when the crime occurred would be more beneficial to all students, whether they are or aren’t in the vicinity of the incident.

All XU Alert Me notifications should be sent to administrative staff members and all students.

There are a number of incidents that go unreported, and this needs to change immediately, especially the issue of sexual assault cases.


Furthering of It’s on X

A growing issue on college campuses has been the issue of sexual assault. Many students, including ones this campus, tend to believe this issue doesn’t directly affect them, if they are not the person who was assaulted. This goes against what it means to be a Xavier student who is for and with one another.

VMR wants the student body to understand that a Xavier student in pain means we are all in pain. Sexual assault isn’t an issue to shy away from, but it is a problem within our society that needs to come to an end. We will make sure the entire campus is up to date on all the new changes to the Title IX legislation, informed of every single resource the university has to offer that deals with this issue, and all the possible ways our Xavier family can support those who have gone through this traumatic experience.

XU Alert Me’s need to be sent out every time a student is sexually assaulted and reports it to XUPD. A student that perpetrates a sexual assault is a threat to students’ safety and therefore the population of Xavier needs to be notified as soon as possible.

GOA/FYS

We feel that GOA and First Year Seminar would be an easy way to incorporate education on sexual assault and gender-based violence into the Xavier Core Curriculum.

A lot of the current topics in these classes are not benefitting Xavier students in that do not have to do with relevant topics in our society. Discussing topics such as gender-based violence, domestic violence or what a healthy relationship looks like would be useful and applicable in a college student’s daily life.

An aspect of this issue that can help improve the conversation and awareness is hosting panels, lectures, and more classes, such as Theo 111, with higher profile men on campus. Through the support of male leaders on campus we hope to further encourage the conversation curbed to the role men play in sexual assault and what they can do.

Following the initiative of many establishments in Cincinnati, VMR hopes to create more posters that list resources available to students on campus who have been affected by sexual assault or gender-based violence. These posters would give students guidelines on how they choose to deal with the aftermath of a sexual assault, whether that is confidential or not. We hope that these posters would be placed throughout our campus either in bathroom stalls or in residence halls.

Although our current presidential administration has just rolled back protections for survivors, Xavier’s Title IX policies will stay intact. We want this to be known to the general population of Xavier and want there to be an open dialogue regarding this topic as well.

Manresa would also be another great way to incorporate this topic. In the current Manresa, meeting with Kate Lawson and XUPD to talk about this subject is an option for students to go to. Instead, this needs to be mandatory for all first-year students participating in Manresa.

Another option for potential class activities would be to have first-year students tour vital locations and buildings on campus such as McGrath or the Title IX office so they know where their resources are located.

Have upperclassmen students sit in on the last day of GOA for first-years and get feedback on their experience and ask for critiques.


Diversity & Inclusion

An important issue that every university has to address is the topic of diversity among its student body and administrative staff members. It is a widely talked about topic that is going to be discussed throughout the rest of our life time. A major subset of the issue of diversity is inclusivity. To be inclusive means to be aware of the various types of people among you and willing invite these people into your community or family style environment. Yet, at a Jesuit university, we’ve stepped away from discussing the problems we have with enacting diversity and our struggles with truly practicing inclusivity at our university.

VMR has noticed that Xavier University does a good job preaching to prospective students, along with current members of the university, about the Jesuit values that guide their decisions, especially the phrase “men and women for and with others.” But if you truly look at the recent issues that plague our campus, they all stem from the lack of effort to foster a diverse and inclusive campus by the administration. VMR proposes we include these various items, in order for our school to practice what we preach when it comes to creating a diverse and inclusive community:

There needs to be more collaboration among organizations in the Office of Student Involvement and the Center for Diversity & Inclusion. These two departments on campus are surrounded by two stigmas that halt the possible engagement of certain members of the student body. VMR proposes that every month, on any selected date, all the organizations apart of the CDI and OSI come together to discuss the various projects that are being planned for that month. Any organization that wants to collaborate with that respective organization will be able to talk about future plans, at that meeting.

The admission representatives need to make sure they are going to different high schools that have a unique and diverse community, instead of always visiting Jesuit high schools that have the same demographic of people. This will make sure that we are truly making an attempt to have a diverse student body.

VMR wants to have at least two or three all-gender Restrooms in every building, including dormitories. All of the signs leading to the location of these bathrooms need to be clear and visible. Every student should be made aware of where each one of these bathrooms is located. These all-gender restrooms would not be the community bathrooms in which there are showers, since that would be more of a long term project. These would be the common area bathrooms on each floor or lobby of residence halls that are just toilets and sinks.

There needs to be a better attempt to attract and retain more minority teachers within various departments, especially in the College of Professional Sciences and the Williams College of Business. We can’t simply create a diverse community amongst our student members, but our administrative staff should attempt to accomplish the same mission.

VMR believes we should educate the student body upon the correct pronoun usage for all students on campus. We think there should be classes, especially within First Year Seminar or GOA, that discuss issues that affect the LGBTQ community. Having these talks will help individuals understand the importance of respecting every person you encounter, no matter how the person identifies themselves.


 

Restructuring/Connecting GOA, First Year Seminar and Manresa, CORE

As a first-year on a college campus, it is quite a challenge to comprehend the new environment around you. The programs that Xavier University has installed for all incoming students, such as Manresa, GOA, and First Year Seminar, are meant to get new students adjusted to being a college student and what it means to be a member of Xavier University.

All of these programs were created with good intentions, yet they don’t truly prepare first-year students for problems that they’ll face in the upcoming years and in the real world. As a Jesuit institution, Xavier should feel obliged to foster a population that has a greater cultural mindset, and this can begin when you are an incoming student.

VMR will take on this task by beginning with what types of classes are offered through our Core curriculum, as well as how we can make sure all majors are exposed to these necessary courses. Then, we’ll implement real issues and have true discussions with all the first-year students during Manresa. Next, we’ll make sure all GOA and First Year Seminar classes prepare students for life after Xavier by being the true starting point for them to express their ideas about current, along with future issues, they’ll encounter throughout their time as a Xavier student and after.

When asked about First Year Seminar or GOA, many Xavier students cannot tell you what they retained from those classes their first year. More topics oriented towards social justice or issues of gender-based violence and race would be beneficial to students.

Following this, CORE 400 that students will take in their final year at Xavier, should be following up on these classes from the first year. The goal would be that students have learned more about these topics during their time at Xavier and have taken the initiative to hold conversations about these topics with their peers as well as faculty and staff.

While these topics are briefly introduced during Manresa, they are not necessarily implemented throughout a student’s time at Xavier. Instead of having two required philosophy classes and two required theology classes, we hope to start the conversation of potentially changing the Xavier CORE to implement more of these classes that regard issues of social justice.

We are also aware that some majors here at Xavier are able to successfully avoid taking any classes that regard race, gender, sexuality, social class or any issues of this sort. We feel that a well-rounded education at Xavier should include at least one class that encompasses all of these topics; Intro to Gender & Diversity would be a great class for students to be required to take. It introduces students to all issues regarding diversity in our society. Again, a class like this one would be more beneficial to students than two philosophy and theology classes. After college, Xavier graduates will be dealing with people from all walks of life in their careers and should be equipped with knowledge about diversity.


Mental Health & Wellness

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 75% of mental illnesses begin before age 24. There is also a rise in the amount of students who have multiple diagnosable illnesses. There are higher numbers of college students who are self-harming and experiencing suicidal thoughts. To clarify, this also means that we may have become better at diagnosing and breaking down the stigma of mental illness.

Regardless, this does not stop VMR’s commitment to accessible mental health resources. We need to not allow ourselves to become complacent when it comes to our students wellbeing. Xavier is not somehow unique from these staggering statistics. Elements that we propose include:

Through the implementation of the Triage Appointment system, Xavier students are easier processed as to the urgency of their mental health related issue. However, this system is less time than the 45 minute counseling sessions regularly offered at McGrath, which is 5 minutes shorter than a few years ago. It relies on the willingness of the student to be completely honest as to the degree of their situation, which leaves open cracks for students to fall in.

From our discussions with students, the majority of the conversations focused on students feeling pushed out, such as a longer stretch between appointments, at the first sign of progress. As a ticket, we want to promote and reinforce that McGrath Health & Wellness Center is free to all students and the student has a right to see a counselor as long as they wish.

Several students who have lost parents have expressed that there is no permanent grief group addressing this issue. Part of our responsibility in taking care of our students is giving them more tools to take care of themselves. We want to see a rise in support groups, so that if students do not feel comfortable talking to a counselor, they may seek peer support. However, we are not going to encourage a culture of moving students to support groups if they do not feel comfortable.

Going along with our continuation of It’s on X, we want to publicize and remind students that there are support groups for survivors of sexual assault.

We also want to make sure that McGrath Services as well as Psych Services receive allocation of funds in accordance with the rise in students who seek counseling services.


Handicap Accessibility

Being a part of a Jesuit university means noticing and appreciating every member that walks upon this campus. VMR doesn’t feel that our school has been taking notice of the needs that has been expressed by handicap students on this campus. If we truly stand by our Jesuit mission and our values, we will take the time to make sure every single person’s needs are being meet. VMR will make these changes to our university, in order for handicap students to feel more at home.

Our current campus is not fully accessible to students who experience physical disabilities. For example, students in wheelchairs and students on crutches are not always able to get to buildings like Cohen and Elet safely or in a timely manner. Many of these students rely on XUPD to get them to their classes since they cannot walk the far distance.

Students who have dwarfism are not able to always reach the food in Hoff Dining Commons because the design of the building is not accessible for them.

Many of our buildings also do not have automatic doors for those in wheelchairs or on crutches. Many of the doors that do exist in the buildings do not work.

Another issue is that not all buildings on campus have elevators. There needs to be an elevator in every single building in the event that a student with a disability has to use the building. When cleaning elevators, custodial staff shuts down the use of the elevator temporarily, resulting in suspended use of the elevator. This often occurs during prime class time when students are traveling from their residence halls to classrooms, and therefore students either in wheelchairs or on crutches have to wait until the cleaning is done, resulting in them being late to class.

VMR believes that the money for this future project shouldn’t come out of SGA’s budget, but from the budget of the university. If the university is willing to pay for large-scale projects, yet there are still smaller projects that need to be worked on, such as this one, the university should be eager and willing to pay for handicap students to feel more included within our university.


Monthly Town Hall Meetings

VMR firmly believes that we attend a good Jesuit university, but to bring our institution to the status of a great Jesuit university, the administrative body and students must be more informed about issues, along with events, that affect every moment of their lives. To truly be “together for others,” we must know what is transpiring within our university, our community, and the world beyond Musketeer Drive.

VMR would like to host monthly “town hall” meetings that would be open to the entire Xavier population as well as residents of Norwood and surrounding areas. The topics of these meetings would include any issues regarding our community, the greater Cincinnati area, our country, as well as the world. Our goal would be for students, staff, faculty and community members to attend and potentially speak on topics they feel strongly about.

We also would hope that Father Graham, SGA senators and SGA executives be at every meeting.

We would like to extend the invite to our neighboring universities like UC, NKU, and Thomas Moore.

Ideally these meetings would be once a month on a weeknight in GSC.


The Rebranding of Student Government Association

Student Government Association was created for the betterment of the student body and the fostering of every individual on campus, whether they are part-time or full-time students. It is a group of dedicated students that seek to ensure every member of our institution is treated fairly and given equal opportunity to achieve numerous goals they’ve set forth.

Even though SGA contains many student leaders and highly engaged members, the overall student body doesn’t quite know what their mission is and what they stand for. They are seen as just another organization, and that is what concerns us. VMR desires to make the following improvements and additions to enhance the overall quality of SGA for their members and our beloved students:

VMR believes the Student Government Association should add “graduate students” into the first line of their mission statement. The addition of this demographic of students would reassure all individuals, who take classes on this campus, that there are a group of people looking out for their well-being.

All of the Senators on SGA need to be more involved with their committees and make a better attempt at seeking new projects to work on. Each Senate member should have a list of goals they want to complete for the school year comes to an end. All committee chairs need to have a detailed plan of what they want to accomplish before 1st semester begins and an updated list of plans at the start of the 2nd semester.

Create a better method to advertise to the student body that ALL MEETINGS are open to all of the students! VMR will issue a report before the beginning of school, along with posting about it on social media and around various locations on campus.

A key aspect to making SGA a more well-known organization, on campus, is to have more collaboration with other clubs and organizations at our university. The more we join forces with other student leaders, the more SGA can be known to all types of students here at Xavier. VMR believes we should try to collaborate with different clubs or organizations, at least twice per month. Along with this, all Executive board members should meet with every single club, every semester, to discuss issues or concerns that respective organization is dealing with.

VMR feels that every Executive member and Senator should be at all SGA meetings and sponsored events; unless they tell an Executive board member 24 hours prior to the event that they cannot attend and have a valid reason for being absent, such as a class conflict or a prior engagement.

VMR desires to lead the initiative and begin building a student relationship with the residents of our neighboring community, Norwood. We believe it should be the Student Government Association that starts to form a cohesive environment with these individuals because to be true “men and women for others” isn’t just about people that inhabit our campus. To become true neighbors, we must make an attempt to get to know one another.


Transparency & Accountability

As students of Xavier, we have a right to see where our tuition money is going and what it is being spent on. We also have a right to see who is making donations to our university and what for. As a private institution we are not legally bound to the Freedom of Information Act, but that doesn’t mean transparency isn’t possible, especially for large scale projects that affect our campus like “The Hub” or deciding how we, as a tuition driven institution, should move forward in accepting larger classes than we can accommodate.

There should be more opportunities for committees, such as the one deciding the fate of the name of Bishop Fenwick Place, to answer to students and faculty in a forum setting. There also needs to be a more effective system in getting students information regarding these various referendums and public forums.

VMR believes this will allow the student body to having a greater voice on our campus. If the university truly values our input, they will understand why we should have more of a voice about what is going on around campus.


Off-Campus Housing

VMR feels that the current way that off-campus housing is set up does not make it easily accessible to students. The majority of students move off-campus, which includes University Station, after their sophomore year at Xavier but the process, is anything but simple for these students.

There should be better advertisements on campus for which houses in Norwood are open to students with details on how to contact landlords.

Xavier University needs to improve its relationship with landlords that manage houses in Norwood.

Students should not have to pay for their houses in the summer if they are not living there. Most leases begin in May or June, forcing students to pay for the summer months even if they aren’t living there. Since many students go home for the summer, the lease agreement should be adjusted for students, but still leaving an option for students who want to stay in Cincinnati for the summer.

The current housing process begins way too early and seems almost rushed for Xavier students. This process for off-campus housing should be more structured and not take place so early in the school year.


To view the platforms for JBC and ASR, click here and here, respectively.

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