Bring The Colony to campus

It’s no secret that Xavier is currently experiencing a serious housing crisis. Dorms are being filled beyond comfortable capacity, sophomores are fleeing off campus and upperclassmen are scrambling to find places to rent. It’s gotten to the point where Xavier has made deals with UC to offer housing in Clifton apartments. And when Musketeers resort to residing among Bearcats, you know things are bad.

A new dorm will be built to accommodate the expanding campus population, but that won’t be finished until 2021. U-Station is constructing another complex, but that won’t be open until August 2020. For the present moment, then, students still find themselves amid a housing crisis that shows few signs of stopping.

Fear not, however, for I, an experienced senior full of sage wisdom, have come up with the perfect solution. I call it: “The Colony Comes to Campus.”

It’s quite simple, actually — students who find themselves without a place to live will automatically be enrolled in a special immersive learning course in which they will experience what it’s like to be homeless. They’ll spend a semester living with The Colony, the group of homeless individuals who were unjustly forced out of their camp under the Third Street Bridge last summer. At the end of the semester, they’ll switch with another group of students currently residing on campus, and the process will continue to repeat itself until the university can provide adequate residences.

The way I see it, this plan is nothing short of brilliant. It solves the housing crisis: On-campus residences will no longer be bursting at the seams and students will still be able to live on-campus — just not in a building. They’ll reap the benefits of being centrally located and can still do all the things a normal student would do (except maybe shower). The only change is that they sleep in a tent instead of a dorm room.

The plan also expands our immersive learning offerings. The Eigel Center staff has worked long and hard throughout the past year to create more opportunities for experiential learning for students to build solidarity with different communities and listen to different perspectives. Here is a perfect opportunity to do just that. Students will learn what it’s truly like to be homeless, build solidarity with The Colony and emerge from the experience with an entirely new perspective on life.

In addition, this plan benefits The Colony community as much as Xavier. After having been forced out of downtown, those displaced need a space to reside, and campus provides an ideal location. They’ll have access to various amenities like public restrooms and shelter and even free food at events. Plus, being on a college campus, there is no shortage of entertaining happenings, and they’ll be able to integrate themselves into the Xavier community seamlessly. They’ll be the next Cat Man, true legends on campus.

Finally, this plan is in complete accordance with our Jesuit values. It seeks solidarity and kinship through allowing students to walk alongside and learn from our companions in The Colony. It encourages reflection on the world around us and our place in it. It invites discernment of how we might play an active role in making the world a better place for people like the homeless. It demonstrates service rooted in justice and love for our neighbors in The Colony and our fellow Musketeers on campus. It exemplifies cura personalis by recognizing the uniqueness of each person and acknowledging their dignity. And finally, it reflects magis through responding generously to the needs of students and of our neighbors.

Now, there are still some minor logistics to be worked out. It might be prudent, for example, to make sure The Colony wants to be forced to relocate yet again, and it might be wise to inform students before they are simply pushed out of their housing, but those details can come in due time. Once the HUB is complete, for instance, university higher-ups will be able to fully devote themselves to overseeing the execution of this plan. Soon enough, Xavier University will be talked about nationwide, not for the pizza ATM or for basketball, but for its true demonstration of immersive learning at its finest, its bold choice to stand in solidarity with the homeless and its ingenious solution to a pervasive problem.

Mama Siefke is the Executive Matriarch of the Newswire. She specializes in finger-wagging and giving stern lectures to her rowdy children…er, staff.