by andrew zerman, staff writer
Take It On, Xavier’s nonpartisan political unity initiative, has been extended into 2021 with hopes of continuing to encourage Xavier students to be active participants as citizens.
The team has history professor Dr. Rachel Chrastil, Institutional Diversity and Inclusion professor Dr. Janice Walker , Associate Provost and Chief Student Affairs Officer Dr. David Johnson and Government Relations Director Mr. Sean Comer.
“The initiative was started in early 2020 at the request of Father Graham to try to address what we anticipated would be a very intense political season,”Chrastil states. “Throughout 2020, the team developed norms for dialogue…to try to hold events in which students, faculty and staff had the opportunity to have dialogue with each other.
They were able to accomplish that in 2020 by having multiple events, among them a student led restorative justice circle that met twice. “Students from different political parties had the opportunity to talk through issues of importance and in a manner that was both civil and productive,” Chrastil explains.
Their team also ensured that Xavier would have remote classes for the 2020 general election. This is the only time in recent memory that such a move has been made. The move was made to both increase student participation in the general election and to make sure that anyone who wanted to volunteer to work at the polls could do so.
Chrastil herself has been an active voter since she became of voting age. “Father Graham invited a number of campus leaders to talk through what (Take It On) might look like, and it seemed like something that I really wanted to be a part of,” Chrastil says.
While 2021 may not have as many political seats up for grabs and the primary election falls on finals week, Chrastil encourages students to vote for their local level candidates.
“We encourage students to participate, as that will be the primary election for the mayor of Cincinnati and that is a very important position,” she says. “We are thinking of ways that we might help introduce the candidates to the campus so that students can make an informed decision.”
While Take It On advocates for political unity, Chrastil realizes that this is not always possible. There exists some groups who have different morals as opposed to merely different political views.
“With the Patriot Front on campus last week, there are some groups that are trying to challenge people’s human dignity,” she states. “We sometimes have to draw a line in saying that there are some groups with goals that go against human dignity.”
Chrastil has some final words for those who are indifferent about politics or think that their votes are insignificant.
“Your vote matters,” she says. “It affects who is in power both locally and nationally, (which has) huge ramifications for those who are in our country and for our everyday experiences. In the broadest sense, politics are about how we can as a society work together to solve the problems that we all care about and working together is really important.”