Gstalder wishing godspeed 

By Charlie Gstalder, Outgoing Opinions & Editorials Editor

I came to Xavier for two reasons. That’s a lie. I came to Xavier for like 20 reasons: great academics, basketball, the color navy blue, the fossils in the rocks, the exceptional English department… the list could go on. But every reason I came to Xavier can be broken into two categories — the present and the future.  

I applied on a whim. I hadn’t given it a ton of thought. I’m technically a legacy — my great-uncle went here — but I never knew him or the school.

My dad’s a college administrator though — VP of IT and Libraries — so he knows a bit about schools. It was at his urging that I considered Xavier.

“It’s a good school.” “They’re doing a lot of interesting things.” “They’re investing correctly.” “I think you could do well there.” “Why not just apply?”

So I did. It was an afterthought, though; I had my heart set on other schools.

Xavier was still an afterthought when I got my acceptance notice not two weeks later. It was the first school I got into. It didn’t hurt that they wanted me, that scholarships and letters and pamphlets followed. I’d gotten into a college and I could exhale a little.

I didn’t think much of Xavier for the next few months. In April, I flew out to Ohio to see Miami and Xavier. I hated the former. I fell in love with the latter.

Xavier felt right. It felt secure and safe and homey. It felt like I could succeed here, be supported, that I could grow and change and experience life outside of the East Coast.

My dad agreed — the school did seem catered to my success. But he was also looking ahead — every building we stepped into and every stop on the tour was just another sign to him that the school was doing things right. Xavier, he told me, would see its reputation and national profile grow rapidly over the next few years. 

In the crudest terms: my degree would be worth more with each passing decade as the school’s standards and profile grow. 

I can’t say that wasn’t important to me. I can’t say that it isn’t still. I love that I can look at where Xavier has invested and where it has changed and know that soon people back home won’t cock their heads and go “huh” when I mention my alma mater.

But I’m scared. I’m scared and concerned and disheartened. Over the past couple years, I have seen the priorities of this university’s administration change. The culture and community and network of caring and committed faculty, staff and students seems to have fallen by the wayside. 

Celebrations of student successes and identity from the All Honors Convocation to the Center of Faith and Justice have been eliminated or severely curtailed. Attempts by students and faculty to advocate for change and fight for issues they find important have been belittled, dissuaded and outright prohibited. 

There are murmurs of cutting liberal arts programs, of limiting funding for and participation in identity groups. There have been decisions to bring in guest speakers and lecturers that espouse hateful and discriminatory beliefs. 

There is the Deters Decision. 

There’s talk of funding football, of creating orthopedic schools. But there’s no compassion. There’s no care for the students they are trying to serve.

I worry we’ve lost the plot. Missed the forest for the trees. Sold our soul to Satan. You pick your cliché, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that Xavier no longer seems to care for its current students. 

The administration appears to have become so preoccupied with advancing their own professional and reputational agendas that they have abandoned the very students they claim to care so much about. 

It is okay to turn towards the future, to try to become a Georgetown or Boston College or Notre Dame or whatever other institution Xavier’s administration dreams of joining the ranks of. But you cannot sacrifice the success and happiness of your current community to reach your goals. 

Xavier cannot continue hurtling towards a national and regional profile without addressing the concerns and needs and cares of the current student body that have made the university into the rising star that it is.

I am proud of my time at Xavier. I will look back on it with fondness, with love and with passion. I am proud that I made it through, though it wasn’t always easy. I am proud to have joined Newswire and met friends and colleagues that I’ll love for life. I’m proud to have tried to fight and write for what’s right, to have had the chance to offer mouthpieces to silenced students. 

Sure, soon I may no longer be a student at this university, but I’m about to be an alumnus and with it, a future donor. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned these past two years, it’s that, if nothing else, Xavier listens to its donors’ demands.

And I’m sad I couldn’t do more. I’m sad that even as I write this, my friends and classmates are victims of borderline defamatory attacks from local and regional news organizations, and I’m sad that our administration has refused to defend or protect them.

And yet, I still have hope. I know that everyone else will continue to fight and advocate and love and learn. I know that I didn’t come to Xavier for its future profile, but for everything and everyone that made it feel like home. That made it my home. And perhaps most importantly of all, I know that I’m not done here. 

Xavier, it’s been an honor to edit your opinions.

Please, never stop writing. Please, never stop fighting.