Opinions & Editorials

I was not educated about Xavier’s past before I came here

WRITTEN BY BRYCE OLDS, GUEST WRITER

I’m a very strong believer in the phrase, “Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it,” and Xavier has a very dark past. 

While they have taken action to move forward with the Stained Glass Initiative and renaming Fenwick Hall, I still don’t think it’s enough.

If you didn’t know already and this article is serving as a form of education to you, Bishop Fenwick, Xavier’s founding president, was a slaveholder. There is an article about this on Xavier’s online library, but the article says some things that don’t sit right with me.

The very first thing this article says is, “Xavier has no direct connection to slavery from the school’s founder.” This comes off as Xavier trying to cover its ass, saying, “Well, our founder did own slaves, but they didn’t help build the university, so that’s not our bad.” 

Some other quotes from the article that didn’t sit right with me include, “By the time Fenwick opened Xavier in 1831, he had not been an active slave holder for 19 years,” and, “As a young man, Fenwick inherited some enslaved people from his father.” 

These pieces of information are only in the article to make Fenwick seem like less of a villain, and to treat him like he was reformed when he opened the school. 

This article isn’t informative about what the school’s ties to slavery really are; its only purpose is to serve as an out for the responsibility of the founder’s actions. 

I respect the work by Dr. Gollar to find this information and make it public, but if this article is going to serve as the school’s education on our past, it needs to paint Fenwick in a much more negative light and be more thorough about what ties to slavery Xavier actually has.

Like the title states, as a new student I wasn’t told anything about this past, and I feel like I’m not the only one left in the dark. I have a very bad feeling these incidents get swept under the rug commonly. 

I have read through some @blackatxavier Instagram posts, and the things I see are just awful. From staff members to the student body, there is a glaring problem with race on this campus that needs to be addressed.

We as a student body need to make sure minority students are being treated fairly and kindly. Being a bystander to incidents of racial bias and saying nothing is as bad as committing an act of racial bias yourself. 

I don’t know how many staff members read these articles, but for the ones who do, this especially applies to your co-workers. If the people at the highest level of the university are racially biased and rigging the game against our fellow students, then nobody is going to win. 

If you are being treated poorly based on your race, or if you know someone who is, reach out. You aren’t ever alone, and I know that many people on this campus are willing to help you, even if it feels like that isn’t true. 

We only defeat issues like this together, so as a community we need to band together and be there for our brothers and sisters who need it the most. 

I consider this community to be a family, and I want others to feel the same way when they walk on this campus. Treat others as you’d treat your loved ones and give them that sense of community we all deserve to have here. 

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