Not to burst your bubble…

By Mo Juenger, Editor-in-Chief

When we talk about the “Xavier Bubble,” we only ever really talk about what’s inside of it. 

We talk about basketball courts, community ambassadors, vandalism incidents and other prominent issues on campus that could affect the outside world. We talk about opening the Xavier bubble to the outside world, letting the world beyond Xavier come to us. But we avoid talking about leaving campus, and through that, we avoid affecting real change beyond our privileged bubble. 

In my four years with Newswire, I have had the honor and opportunity to cover dozens of stories involving campus protests and controversies. The purpose and origin of this coverage is simple: Newswire is a student newspaper, so we are tasked with covering issues that matter to students. 

My time as an editor has largely been marked by a few major campus controversies: racist vandalism incidents on campus, protests for pro-choice voices on campus and an overwhelmingly negative response to the arrival of Justice in Residence Joe Deters to campus. These issues have overwhelmed campus at times, spurring hateful language and campus conflicts. 

I don’t disagree that these are important to our campus. We should ask our campus to embody anti-racism. We should allow every student on campus equal access to voice their opinions. We all deserve the right to scorn dumb ideas for fake campus faculty positions, and we deserve to say that racists probably shouldn’t be allowed to inhabit those positions. 

When we hyperfocus on these issues, though, we just get sucked further into the Xavier bubble. It’s not wrong to protest on campus, but those protests ultimately affect so few people. We are supporting our causes — antiracism, the right to choose, the downfall of Joe Deters — but we are supporting them in a social microcosm of privileged, majority-White 19-year-olds. 

It’s time for Xavier students to broaden their horizons. As someone who has covered the same protests in the same 0.2 square-mile radius for four years, I have come to notice a pattern. The administration is not responding to student concerns and protests. 

Students have protested to start a pro-choice club on campus since I entered Xavier and have repeatedly been denied one. Students have petitioned for Deters to be dismissed from his new position, and Deters remains here.

In my view, this demonstrates two things. First, we have an incredibly dedicated group of advocates and activists on campus, and they truly believe in their causes. Second, we are pouring so much time and energy into a university that will not listen nor respond. 

This is not worth our time. As Xavier students, we are doing ourselves and our larger community a disservice by ignoring the outside world and only protesting our own internal issues. 

A university is not a democracy. The administration has no reason (beyond retention, a concern far secondary to recruitment) to respond to student protests. But at a city level, a state level and a federal level, we have representatives who are actually influenced by protests and  have valid reason to please their constituents. These officials can also legislate, affecting change for not only Xavier’s tiny undergraduate class but vast swaths of citizens. 

There’s nothing wrong with protesting on campus, and college is a great place to learn how to engage with activism and advocacy on a small scale. This is where we come to develop our voices, but it shouldn’t be the only place we’re using them. 

If you’re not being heard on campus, go farther. Talk to community councils, city council, state legislators, anyone who will actually listen. Don’t waste time yelling at a university administration who does not respect you enough to bother responding. Don’t let your passion dissipate. Don’t let yourself burn out. Take your advocacy where it will be valued, and make real change in spaces much larger and much more important than a single campus. 

Xavier’s campus is not just a bubble; it is a void that’s absorbing the messages of a group of strong, eloquent activists whose voices deserve to be heard. Don’t let your voice echo on campus alone; make yourself heard where it counts.