Reviewing the semester with BDA

A continuation of last week’s front page article voicing the thoughts of BDA

K: First question, broad question, how do you think the first semester has gone?

Alfredo: Great.

Blair: Yeah, good.

D: Great! I mean, to be honest with you I think it’s been extremely challenging in a lot of ways because there’s so much, how would I say, traction that you have to gain in order to get people’s attention or to accomplish specific objectives, as well as just doing administrative tasks that just seem kind of miniscule but are important to the functioning of the university as a whole. So it’s just like budgeting for UAO’s, as well as the student activity fund—everything in between as well just like meeting up with people, doing a lot of conversation and talking as well as getting to know the people that make Xavier move and shake while still providing genuine student input.

B: It has been a lot just trying to get people familiar with who we are, kind of getting a few of our initiatives off the ground. I think it was, like, day two in office, somebody was like “what have you guys done?” It’s like we just got here. So just trying to really get some things off the ground, we have gotten some things accomplished. But also, like Desmond was saying, just more exposure. I think we’ve really done a good job of keeping the office more open. I come in here at 11 at night and people are just in here doing work and hanging out. So, just really trying to shift the culture of SGA to kind of what we think it should be. So I think we’ve done a pretty good job of doing that. We’ve just had a lot of—

A: Groundwork.

B: Yeah! I think we’ve had more of a demand, from previous executives as far as like outside events and luncheons and breakfasts. People just want to meet us and it’s fun but it’s also just more time. So doing that in addition to the administrative tasks has kind of been a lot. But it’s been fun, it’s been busy. And also getting to know how we work as a team… But yeah, it’s been fun.

K: Moving onto the major projects that are going on, like the HUB, Gallagher Basement, the new dorm, can y’all give an update on that?

B: Update on the HUB, the last thing I heard, they might open certain portions by November. It will be fully open in January, second semester. That’s what I’ve heard so far. But they just had a lot of issues because of the weather so a lot of delays with rain and different things like that… The hub should be coming around then.

A: But they average something like a hundred workers a day.

B: Yeah, so they’re moving very fast… [The basement], they’re still doing a lot of finalizing as far as what the actual layout of the room is going to look like, but Chris [Marshall] knows what games he wants down there, what systems, so the logistics are there… I think that’ll be done over the summer, but that’s as of now.

K: Yeah, I mean, everything’s subject to change.

B: Everything’s as of now. Housing, I sit on the committee with everyone important that’s involved in housing, but they’ve had an outside group come in present, an architect… Our initial meetings have been really established, like how much it’ll cost, how much we’re building, all of this information will go to the Board of Trustees and their meeting is next Friday. If they approve the budget that we came up with, we’ll be able to proceed with design and building but that shouldn’t be up until fall 2021… They also have a lot of plans in place of leveraging near-campus housing, meaning U-station, which is expanding. They’re using a lot of that to help offset having to move first-year students off campus.

K: Now moving into your projects. Y’all got the [free] laundry done.

All: Yes! Yeah, so…

D: That’s Dr. Jude Kiah. We gotta give him credit for that.

B: So laundry is happening, that’s good. POM device is coming, we think, pretty sure. That actually hasn’t been something we’ve…

D: Broadcasted, but it’s actually a great thing and it really addresses the issue of security, Blair can go more in depth on that.

B: I can go more in depth, we never put it on our platform because we didn’t know about it until we got into office… POM device is another safety measure that we’re trying to implement and it got approved by Father Graham and the public safety committee, so now it’s just a matter of how many we’re going to purchase… Clothes bank, moving, slowly but surely.

D: The biggest thing about the clothes bank is just storage and we’ve been trying to work in collaboration with the store and Angie Kneflin in order to not only store the items there but also make items available and leverage the fact that students that may have food insecurity might also have clothing issues as well, so kind of kill two birds with one stone, maximizing and optimizing what the store would look like, so a lot of that has to deal with planning with Angie Kneflin and some storage stuff and dealing with the renovations they need to make sure that we’re growing together.

B: Also, back into what we’re doing with sustainability…

D: The clothes fall under sustainability, so that’s another way to test and see if students would be more interested in seeing second-hand clothes, saving textile waste and all the process and dyes and water and stuff that go into producing the new clothes that we all buy… Definitely the sustainability club has been an awesome ally in order for us to gauge an interest of the students… which will help push the envelope a little further because you know, it’s a bureaucracy… but uhm a major thing, I think, especially with the child care… Dr. Kristen Renzi has done amazing research and has compiled all that and we’ve more than willingly collaborated with facilities to see how the university could do it and to see how it would work so it can be equitable and feasible, especially here and to figure out what model works the best and in one of my meetings with Dr. Janice Walker that actually came up. Dr. Walker was aware of the survey and the data collection that has gone out and she’s been aware of the progress we’ve been making, slowly and surely, especially in terms of seeing where a feasible site would be on campus and we’ve been talking about what the necessary plans might be, but more people need to be at the table in order to hear it. It’s even gotten to the word from Janice Walker to the direct reports and Father Graham and we’ve gotten a lot of support for it and some against it in terms of feasibility and liabilities and all that stuff. But I’m pretty sure we’ve got the people we want to work with to make it happen, we’ve got all that under control to make a five-star early education child care center. Which is amazing for sure.

B: Also just being clear, that’s not something we will see in our time.

D: We’re laying the groundwork.

B: Every time we bring this up, with Melissa, Janice, and whoever, this isn’t a new conversation. These are all things that have been on their radar before, it’s just that no one has ever pushed for it before. So I think that, since they know, it’s more of a demand for students particularly, parenting students, grad students, whoever, I think it’s just that now they’re taking it more seriously than it has been in the past. But I think it’s still just like a really big fish, and it’s something that Xavier’s never done before so it’s not something that we expect to see happen even before we graduate. At most, one of our goals is to potentially get a pilot program up and running by the end of next semester, so it’s a temporary trial run so to speak to see what the demand is and how it would flow. An actual Xavier child care center is two years, minimum.

D: So we’ve definitely been doing a lot of collaborations with an early childhood learning center that’s renown in the area, you know, getting that information. I just got an email from Dr. Janice Walker saying how it’s gotten into the direct reports and everyone wants to see more data and specifics to see the feasibility of it. It’s definitely like making a lot of traction, a lot more than I would have thought it would jumping into this, but I think that’s a huge major project that we’re working on that we’re getting things done with. As well as, we’re actually going back to the drawing board  in a sense to look at our platform a lot to see what we can do within the next semester and over the summer, now that we’re done with administrative stuff and we can see what we can get out rocking and rolling.

B: The community discussions, we only had one because the schedules were terrible (in March) and even worse in April as far as student and administrative schedules and we didn’t want it to be rushed. We also kind of want the discussions to be geared towards what’s happening and we felt like nothing major was happening that required everyone’s time to talk about. When we did the first one, it was about the smoking ban, and health and wellness and things that were happening in the moment. So we just felt like, other than just like title IX transitions and things relating to the climate surveys, but we wanted it to be a space for people to talk about active things. Maybe when we get back, people will want to talk about the HUB will be something people wanna discuss, or housing, etc. We’ll see how the summer goes. We feel like that’ll be more of a space when we get back.

K: On that note of the challenges, what’s been the biggest challenges y’all have faced so far?

B: I would say just balancing the work. Students look at us kind of like administrators and administrators look at us, sometimes, as students but sometimes as their peers. I got an email a couple weeks ago from an administrator and it was like, “Hey I need to meet with you at 1:30pm today” and I was like…that’s fine I don’t have class or anything. The demand, I don’t think I realized how much background work it would be. The challenge is recognizing that not everyone will see that and that’s okay. So when I hear things like “SGA doesn’t do anything,” I understand that there are certain things that you simply won’t feel the impact of. And so not being able to make every student aware of everything every day can kind of be a little challenging. But it’s not discouraging. SGA, we spend money–$3,000 to be exact—on late night breakfast for finals week. But nobody knows that because Connex puts out marketing materials  without SGA’s logo on it. So it makes it seem like it’s just the Caf offering free food, but in reality SGA pays for it. But also, we don’t necessarily say “SGA’s putting on a breakfast” because we’re not. So it’s a really hard thing to balance. Not bashing Connex, we love Connex. But there’s certain things that students don’t feel because they don’t know it’s SGA that does it. That’s been a big challenge for me.

D: Personally for me, it’s just being spread a little thing here and there. And balancing the work-play thing, trying to make sure I’m consistent with what makes me happy and gives me life as well as handling some of the new responsibilities. Especially being the youngest one here, there’s a lot of growing pains a person has to go through. Not just dealing with administrators, but the actual work behind it…all the other responsibilities and obligations. Sometimes my girl gets mad at me because I’m in the office, I’m trying to do 8 things at once and we don’t necessarily get that time. But I’ve decided to step back a bit more and focus on things one task at a time. I think that’s the most important thing.

B: I think all Alfredo would say…I don’t want to take words out of his mouth. But something he’s expressed is he kind of misses being as involved with his other clubs as he was before we ran. Because now we’re all just kind of general members, but he’s not as active in the organizations as he was before. So I know he misses that part of it.

D: He was a super SAC-er!

B: He was obsessed with SAC! HOLA, things like that. So I think he misses that portion, just being a regular student so to speak. But now you’re so watched, and it’s so high pressure that it’s…hard.

K: How do you feel about the Senate performance so far?

B: I think Senate as a whole, they’ve done a good job. It’s interesting because when I was on Senate I was with a lot of returners…maybe half of our Senate by our second or third year. Where as our Senate is very new and the majority of them are first-year students and there’s maybe 4 or 5 returners. So it’s a very fresh Senate, and I think that’s good. They’ve done a great job of adjusting to what Senate is, how to communicate with administrators. And of course as far as projects and individual initiatives, I’d like to see more and that’s something that we’re constantly saying every week. I think there are specific senators that have done a great job of doing that, they’ve really found their passions, found projects they want to work on a pursue, and then others are just not sure of how to go about doing that just yet, which is understandable. So I hope that returning next semester we come back with the fire to really change this university upside-down. Overall I’m really proud of them. I think they’re really smart, passionate, engaged. But I would like to see some more individual projects.

D: Agreed. We have very young, talented, bright, really creative senators. The only thing I would love to see is them being action oriented. A lot of the times they have big ideas, and they may not necessarily fit. One of my mentors told me it’s okay to have audacious ideas and audacious requests because even if you have to “settle,” you’d still get more than you initially asked for in a way. I tell them all the time, I’m here to support, I’m here to be a tool, and I’m just as new as you. There shouldn’t be any fear in terms of getting out there and finding something you’re passionate about and being full-fledged, full steam ahead with it. I’ve talk with them about the idea of collaboration because a lot of them share the same interest in a similar area. I think as long as they grow together and learn about those issues together, they’re more likely to team up and have awesome projects on the way in the fall. I’m excited for it in the near future because they’re learning a lot and they’re gonna make huge strides and I feel that they just need to get over that initial awkwardness of being a first-year and the responsibilities of being a senator. A lot of them are talented and going to do great things, I’m not concerned.

B: And I’ll just say, super quick, SRI (Student Rights and Identity), the committee—

D: Oh they’re kicking butt.

B: They have a lot of great ideas and they’re really targeting issues that we don’t really think about often, like students with incarcerated parents, and different things of that nature. So they’re really, like, bringing up things I never even thought about. So I’m really excited to see what they come up with.

D: They did an awesome women’s history month program, highlighting the women of XU, especially since this has been 50 years of women at Xavier. They picked a great cast of women that are only just a microcosm of the university, everyone just from students, staff, and faculty and in between, just phenomenal women and I’m glad that they took the initiative to work as a team. I just wanna highlight them to showcase these people who are amongst us doing great things and really just show everyday heroes, which I was just impressed by.

B: And the COOL (Campus On and Off Living) committee, they’re working on getting printers over in the Village. That’s something they’ve been working on, trying to get more printers to be more central to where people live. So COOL committees been working, and the chair of that committee has been working on intramural football team, so that’s kind of in the works.

D: A lot of our people are very fiery especially the COOL committee because they have a lot of oppositions, but they’ve done their homework, they’ve done their research especially for fighting for printers. And what made me so ecstatic about them and the fact that they looked at our platform and were like oh, this is something cool, this is something we can take initiative of so, it talks about you know, just being in accordance and being coherent and working with each other and being an executive team of the senate to make an awesome SGA

K: That’s dope. Also, on the note of senate, this is a question that is very dear to the newswire staff is a status update on the swings. [Laughter] But really what’s up with the swings?

B: Alright, to be clear, the swings was an initiative from last year from last term so the swings… okay, the money was approved, yes. So, there was a demo out. Demo swings that I believe had been ordered and its juts a matter of them arriving and getting installed so once these demo swings are installed and the usage is good etc etc etc they’ll buy the really expensive ones. So, the next step from here is for those to go up, then following that the rea ones will go up, but those demos are nowhere to be found so… IDK that’s the last I heard

K: I was just at the newswire and they were like, “WHAT ABOUT THE SWINGS”

Blair: yea I think they’ll be coming… soon. But I know for a fact that the trial ones will be going up.

Kev: Okay so question for you, what’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced?

Alfredo: Biggest challenge? Umm..

Blair: I kinda spoke for you a little we’ll see if it’s accurate.

Alfredo: Just ummm balance? Umm I’d say not necessarily a problem which I didn’t necessarily pass or succeed but just knowing ahead of tome that it would be a lot of work and so like putting in the work before hand when I could like you know, a week early starting homework or what have you just to ensure that I feel bad when I say it but SGA kinda overtakes your life sometimes over academics or social life so like whether or not I wanted to do my homework ad stuff I could try to prioritize my homework beforehand so I could make sure SGA is running smoothly. So, I think just balancing like my social life, academics, the importance of SGA and the role um everything else you know I have work marines whatever else, eating, sleeping, like everything like that but also giving 110%. Something I dedicate to myself is I don’t dedicate myself to anything unless I dedicate 110%. Because that’s just unfair to that institution, that person that I’m trying to dedicate to if I’m not giving 110%. So I’m just trying to make sure the balance is as fair and equitable as possible but also ensuring SGA is the best it can be and best it ever has been.

Blair: I was close I said you missed being involved with other things

Alfredo: Yeah, well that is true. I still try and do as much as I can like I try TO go to a lot of meetings like I don’t go to SAC meetings because they’re like SGA meeting so I just ghost the SAC meetings but like I still associate myself with a lot of the SACers so um I’m still involved with the veterans center a lot so like I try to keep all those associations with myself because like gonna better me as a person

Kev: So, I’ve got two Final questions but the first one is going to take a while to answer.

Blair: Okay.

Kev: So, what is the biggest issue facing the university right now? Like both university and student body and how are y’all planning to address these issues?

*Crickets

Kev: I told you it’s a big one…

*Moans and Grumbles

Blair & Alfredo: umm well

Blair : You got it

A: I’d say ensuring that there are…equitable practices throughout the university….I don’t think just like in academics or in financial aid but like we’re talking social life, we’re talking like groups that people can be a part of, physical fitness, mental health, whatever the aspect that the university can hold…equitable practices in all. I think the university kind of just like has this like standard that it wants to achieve, and it’s like this main population of students and this standard they’re trying to achieve, and they’re kind of just like going away from the roots, and they’re kind of just like, ‘oh we want to be this high level institution, up there with Georgetown,’ or up there, you know, and they’re just like kind of forgetting we’re still students, we’re still paying all this money/x amount of cash, whatever, whether we have grants, loans, scholarships. So I mean, just even the financial aid I think is probably one of the biggest but then also just so many different aspects of student life, it’s just kinda dismayed. I feel like it’s kinda just like ‘oh, academics are important, so we’re going to focus on academics.’ But I mean there are so many more other things that students come to Xavier for besides the academics, because we’re not ranked nationally academically, so like, academics are not the only thing that are making students come to Xavier. So I think there’s a lot of just systemic things that have gone throughout the years, like not seen, not really taken care of. It’s just like, it’s been this way forever, just let it be this way, and it’s kind of just challenging and really ensuring that these administrators or whoever it may be are really recognizing the student problems that we face, whatever aspect of the university it is. I’m just trying to talk really broadly, not really specifically.

K: Then, how do you also plan on playing a role in addressing those issues?

A: I mean, yeah, the second part, so definitely I think definitely we’ve started carving out…BDA started getting together and forming during election season. We wanted to A) challenge the way we view leadership and also keep administration accountable for the actions or lack of actions. So I mean that’s something that we hold ourselves strong to, is we pursue questions, we make sure that these right answers are coming out.

B: We make them say what they’re doing and why. When we aren’t into things, we really engage in conversation with them and they really understand… So it’s like, they know how we feel about it. It’s not just like things are happening and nobody’s speaking up. If we are asked a question about what we think of something, we are very blunt and honest about what we think about it. What they do from there, we don’t have much control over, but I think it’s important, and we’ve heard feedback from administrators that we’re very transparent about how we feel. I encourage all students to always do that. Like I feel like sometimes with students, if you’re in front of Father Graham, you don’t wanna be like, “Xavier sucks!” You feel like you have to say everything you love, and that’s not how we are. And that’s not to say we only say negative things, because we do love Xavier, but we have to critique things we love.

A: That’s true.

D: I agree. I mean, our biggest thing is being a Socratic supporter of the growth that Xavier is going through. One, to be affirmed in the ideals that we say we are, but also making sure that we’re practicing those same ideals and real actions. As well as making sure there’s equitable change for the growth. Everyone talks about Xavier 5,000, which actually isn’t that many more students, but the easy thing is, we get all these students at one time, but how are we retaining students? How are we making sure students have the necessary things they need in terms of financial aid, some auxiliary services, and so on and so forth, in order to not only stay here, but thrive here, and get everything out of their education here as well as embodying what leadership actually looks like. I think the biggest thing for us is one, to be not only accountable for ourselves, but also the administration that we interact with, but also making sure that we are, like Blair said, questioning reasons behind certain—

A: Motives.

D: Motives, yeah, in order to achieve growth. And making sure that students aren’t marginalized or left out. And I think the biggest thing is being that advocate, being that voice, as well as creating growth in our own part of the university. Getting things in place, in play, to ensure that whoever comes after us has one, the power to speak, but also the knowledge and tools that we sometimes don’t have in order to do what’s best for Xavier as a university.

B: Yeah. Yes to all of that. One specific thing that I think is an issue right now, so like with the transition of Taj Smith leaving, I think BART kind of dwindled down. People don’t really see BART in the face of bias incidents that have happened, not to say that there’s been any incidents that have reached the caliber of certain incidents in the past, such as black face, but I do think that there have been a lot of issues and incidents that have been reported this past semester that haven’t really gotten the full traction and attention that they’ve needed. And it’s hard because you don’t really know how to handle it. BART was really kind of working on stuff, they weren’t perfect, but they were working on creating spaces where students can engage on what’s happening, what had occurred and why. So I think something that we’ve been kind of brainstorming has been what different programming and training can we do that can kind of shift how we interact with each other as students. Because it doesn’t have to always be this formal thing. On a student to student level, every day when you’re in the caf, do you speak to people who don’t look like you? Do you sit with people who don’t look like you? So just like, how do we get students to really just engage among each other. How do we really get students to engage with one another so we don’t have as many of these incidents that occur, and when they do occur, how are we learning? How are we growing? Especially with how we’re processing, as a community, global tragedies. I haven’t heard many discussions about what happens across the world. Current events, how are we processing? Like these things are happening, massive, massive things, like people are really impacted by it, their families are impacted by it. When the government shutdown happened, people had families working for the government and people weren’t getting paid, and nobody’s talking about it. And so that, to me, is, we just paint this face of like, “Everything’s great!”  We don’t, as a community, really address things the way we should anymore. That’s one thing I think is very important.

D: Another thing that I wanna give my kudos to the student body is their sense of growing awareness, especially with issues that happen with Xavier and our relations, especially dealing with Carabello Coffee, that dilemma we’re going through right now. I’m really just beyond excited that students are not only aware, but demanding action in terms of business practices and where Xavier is aligned with outside entities that may have a past with discriminatory practices towards certain minorities. I think that demanding immediate answers now and not being timid or shy, or afraid or mild, in terms of demanding real answers, real actions and wanting the university to be accountable. That’s, like, really empowering to me, and it really speaks to what we do in order for us to step up and show the whole student body what we fight for too.

K: One small question before the final one, what’s going on with the basketball covering?

All: OH MY GOD

Alfredo: There’s certain things we prioritize, and not saying that’s not a priority, but in terms of impact on the student body, it’s mediocre.

 Blair: That was an Alfredo initiative.

Alfredo: We just shoot for the moon. You know, aim for the stars.

Kevin: What are you hoping to get accomplished next semester? What’s next semester going to look like? What are your priorities for that going to be?

Blair: If it doesn’t happen don’t hate me, but it will happen. We want a Fall Fest. Fall Fest being something big that students can look forward to during first semester. First semester is filled with a lot of small programming and after Week of Welcome kind of dwindles out. We want people to have something big and fun for first semester. We’re really trying to collab with other organizations to see what we can do. That’s something I really want to work on this summer, bringing something fun that can build community and be something different.

Alfredo: Something that touches different communities at Xavier. Not saying that XavierFest doesn’t, but really focusing on different aspects of culture or identity or race.

Blair: If we were to bring someone, it would be, you know, different genres.

Alfredo: Different food options too, trying to be as culturally appropriate as we can to represent different cultures or ethnicities. Activities could be something different. We’re still picturing something big.

Blair: Continuing things we’ve started too, but also starting new things on our platform. Things we haven’t necessarily started yet. I would like to do more collabs with Title IX in terms of programming. Especially because next semester Talia will be fully into her new role so I think we’ll be able to have a lot more flexibility with what SGA can do in terms of programming with Title IX.

Des: I mean really just continuing to do what we started. I think the biggest thing personally for me is just using the traction that we’ve got towards the child care center and making sure the foundation will be laid towards the launch within the next two year. I’m audacious and would love to see it happen while I’m here and see a beautiful children’s space, but I understand how these things work. But making sure we make significant progress and the right people know, making sure we get it in the ears of people in order to make sure it becomes a thing. I think that’s definitely empowering, for me personally. But if it doesn’t happen, that’s okay. It’s important to get things moving and churning.

Des: We just started on some of the initiatives in our platform that we’ve kind of been taking a sidestep from, but we haven’t necessarily been focused on because we’ve had so many other things to fulfill. Additionally, a big thing is making sure we give ourselves time to do what executives do, and not necessarily go to luncheons and dinners—which are great—but at the same time making sure we’re still embodying servant leadership and being action oriented.

Blair: We’re excited for the campaigns next semester, that’ll be fun. Have you heard about the changes?

Kev: No.

Blair: Am I supposed to make the announcement? I’m scared.

Alfredo: Off that, I’m excited in that we talked about earlier how this semester has been focused on more internal things like getting our feet wet and setting the groundwork for SGA. But by fall setting the precedent of what presidents are supposed to be. So working for SGA as executives to get its name out there and make sure that we have some influence or we’re empowering other students.

Blair: The slavery symposium, we’re really looking forward to that.

Alfredo: That’s something bigger than Xavier, and hopefully something we can have a hand or a touch or give some aspect of student discussion there. You know, working with a possible student entrepreneur who started a company in Madagascar. So with that, SGA can possibly go across the world, something I don’t think ever’s been done by Xavier SGA. So getting SGA’s name out there and empowering the students.

Blair: PEDRO is happening again. (The real PEDRO, quote me). That’s the other thing we’re trying to ensure that there is still that pipeline for students of color on campus to become leaders. That’s still happening and I’m really excited about it.

By. Kevin Thomas | Editor-in-Chief