Good God, Someone Please Pop the Bubble

Opinion by Ethan Nichols, Staff Writer

This past week, Xavier University and St. Xavier High School (St. X), an all-boys Catholic high school in Cincinnati, announced a direct admissions program for all St. X students. 

The decision to provide direct admissions for an all-boys, exclusive, largely-White private school is deeply troubling. The student body population of St. X is over 80% white, according to demographic data from 2021. 

Beyond simple direct admissions, all St. X students will also automatically receive a scholarship to attend Xavier University. The tuition at St. X is over $13,000 a year.

The argument in favor of utilizing direct admissions for St. X goes back to the historical relationship between the two schools. Both schools used to exist together, under the name “The Athenaeum.” The two schools have not shared a campus or administration in decades. They are two distinct entities. 

Now, I have nothing against St. X. I think it’s great that students from St. X may wish to continue their Jesuit education at Xavier. But Xavier University sits in Norwood and Evanston, two incredibly diverse communities that do not experience the amount of institutional support and investment that schools like St. X receive. 

In the press release Xavier put out, it boasted that Xavier recently “enrolled its most diverse class ever.” I find it a bit ironic that they include this in a statement announcing direct admissions and financial support for an overwhelmingly White private high school.

Another slap in the face is that St. X accepts school choice vouchers, an antiquated system that redirects state money from already underfunded public schools to private schools.

Xavier has a historically poor relationship with many of our surrounding communities. We often hear people talk about the “Xavier bubble,” which refers to the ways in which Xavier remains isolated and disconnected from Norwood, Evanston and our other surrounding neighborhoods. This problem dates back decades. 

Many students never get the chance to truly experience Norwood or Evanston because they are unaware of how many amazing businesses, restaurants, parks and more are within walking distance or a short drive from campus. Xavier does little to encourage students to use public transportation, Wasson Way or even get off campus and into Norwood and Evanston at all. 

Extending direct admissions to a largely white private school only serves to strengthen this bubble. Why has Xavier not extended direct admission to students from Norwood High School, Evanston Academy or one of the many other schools mere minutes from campus? 

These students from Evanston and Norwood are also the students most likely to need financial support to attend a university like Xavier. But instead of offering opportunities like this to support and encourage students who actually reside within our communities to continue their education at Xavier, we are offering direct admissions and scholarships to an exclusive private school. 

Xavier should reconsider its usage of direct admissions and instead find ways to support and encourage students from more diverse schools and students that actually need the support, to attend Xavier. We have an obligation as a university to support the communities that have been negatively impacted by Xavier in the past. 

I’d encourage all Xavier students and faculty to rethink the ways in which we engage with our surrounding communities. Find ways to get off campus, find ways to engage your classmates — and students if you’re a professor — in off-campus activities, support local businesses and consider the language we use to describe these communities. It’s on us to hold our university accountable and ensure that we are doing everything we can to support and give back to these wonderful communities that surround us. 

Let’s pop the Xavier bubble.