Students advise Banks on diversity

Student board works to advocate inclusionary policy for XU

By Spencer de Tenley, Multimedia Managing Editor

The Office of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion (OIDI) welcomed the inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Student Advisory Board (DISAB) to advise Vice President of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Ivy Banks on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility from the student perspective.

Earlier this year, the OIDI launched a new initiative focused on allowing Xavier student voices to play a more prominent role in regards to institutional diversity and inclusion. Spearheaded by Banks, nine students were selected out of an applicant pool of 30 to join the inaugural DISAB. These students will be working with Banks to advise “all matters on diversity and inclusion as it impacts the institutional level.” 

Banks, after joining Xavier in January 2022 with more than 15 years of expertise in diversity and inclusion strategic leadership, identified a lack of student representation for diversity and inclusion efforts at Xavier. 

 “It was necessary for the voice of students to be heard by the senior leadership council,” Banks said. 

“Some people might not realize that other people feel like they don’t belong or that there’s certain roadblocks for people that not everyone has because of their identites. We want to make sure that everyone, regardless of their identities, feels at home at Xavier, and they know that we are a family,” sophomore PPP and economics Andrew Apollonio said.

Banks aimed to create a more formal avenue between the students and the administration, resulting into the creation of DISAB. 

Since the board will be dealing with matters relating to diversity and inclusion on campus, Banks felt that having a variegated group of students was of utmost importance. Hence, the board’s nine members come from a diverse set of backgrounds and identities. 

“(This diversity) brings… a very different perspective here at Xavier, because I get to hear from students from different religions, abilities, sexualities and genders that aren’t always at the table,” Banks said.

“Xavier will benefit (from the board) because everyone thrives when there is true diversity in a community. When everyone brings something different to the table, everyone succeeds,”  senior psychology major and member of the board Maya McGee said.

“It is important to emphasize inclusion, especially on a college campus, because this is where people grow and develop, and this is where people become who they are,” McGee continued. 

The board will be advising major inclusion operations, the diversity of the strategic plan, required diversity and inclusion training and the bias support system on campus. 

At the forefront of DISAB’s agenda is the campus climate survey. The campus climate survey was a comprehensive survey, last sent out in 2016, which served as a way for students to communicate their opinions on the current diversity and inclusion climate on campus. 

After eight years, Banks is working to launch another campus climate survey next spring, to be advised by the DISAB. The board will advise Banks on what questions and details ought to be present on the survey before it is introduced in the spring.

“We need to know what our students need and what they want,” Banks said. 

Banks is also focused on extremism on campus. In wake of recent vandalism incidents at Xavier perpetrated by a White nationalist group, Banks stated the advisory board will be considering “the policies, processes and notifications to Xavier if we ever have any group such as an extremist group on campus.” 

“Two students on the board attended the Eradicate the Hate Conference two weeks ago, which makes Xavier eligible for student-based grants that help us as a university to be able to address extremists groups on campus,” Banks said.

DISAB will continue meeting with Banks to plan the upcoming survey and discuss other matters of diversity and inclusion.