New Take It On director hopes to spark conversation, increase voter turnout
By Mattie Cieplak, Guest Writer, & ROBBIE Dzierzanowski, Campus News Editor
Dr. Mack Mariani has been appointed the new director of the Take It On initiative during the last week of January, replacing Dr. Rachel Chrastil, who was hired as the university’s Provost and Chief Academic Officer.
Originally founded in 2019 by Associate Provost and Chief Student Affairs Officer Dave Johnson; Government Relations Director Sean Comer; and Chrastil, the Take It On initiative was formed as a bi-partisan organization to encourage peaceful political discourse and student involvement in politics, specifically through voting.
Take It On has been under the helm of Chrastil from its start until she took over as the provost in early January, leaving the director spot empty.
Abby White, a junior Philosophy, Politics and the Public and communications double major, is the only Take It On Fellow in the short history of the program and has worked closely with Chrastil through the developmental years of the program.
White described Chrastil as “positive, committed and ambitious.”
“Chrastil was committed to making Take It On a positive experience… (for) all students. Chrastil worked hard for everyone who connected with Take It On to see the importance of voting and how one’s voice affects their community,” she said.
White also shared Chrastil’s strong vision of Xavier as a leader in the community and added that Chrastil was dedicated to focusing on what Xavier would accomplish, while corresponding with the visions of Xavier’s most recent presidents, Fr. Graham and Dr. Hancyz.
Take It On has sponsored Zoom election information sessions (top) and supported trips to the New Hampshire primary in 2020 (bottom).
Xavier found its ideal candidate for a new Take It On director in Mariani, a professor of political science and two-time XU chicken wing-eating champion. Mariani has been involved with Take It On from its inception in 2019.
“My initial goal is to keep Take It On moving forward at the same pace it has been already,” Mariani said when asked about his vision for the program. “I want to make sure the people already involved in Take It On are prioritizing these important discussions, as well as involving more students as active participants.”
Mariani has already begun organizing difficult discussions and continuing the fast pace of the initiative. Next week, Take It On scheduled a “talk back” following Xavier Theatre’s production of A Doll’s House, Part 2.
The talk back, a conversation over important issues a show addresses following a performance, will be facilitated by members of the production and may involve faculty from Gender and Diversity Studies and staff from the Title IX office.
The event will be Mariani’s first with Take It On, taking place a few weeks after his appointment to the director role was confirmed.
Mariani’s goal is to have as many different voices and people involved in Take It On as possible. To him, this starts with involving more students in more intimate capacities like fellowships, but also making sure Xavier students are equally involved in the greater community.
Take It On aims to clarify the importance of being an active participant of one’s political community for Xavier students. The initiative mainly encourages students to get involved in the democratic process of voting by making it more accessible.
Mariani already is considering how to increase the number of student voters from Xavier.
“We need to make sure people are registered to vote but also have a plan to vote. Students often have the intention to vote, but life will sneak up on them unless they have a solid plan. This means, starting in the spring, we will be working with students to create their voting plans,” Mariani added.
“We want our students to take on conversations involving controversial speech, the importance of voting and anything else that comes their way,” he concluded.