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Civil Rights at Xavier Today

By France Griggs Sloat

An African-American student recently told history professor Christine Anderson about an incident when a white girl in her residence hall spelled out the “n” word on a Facebook posting asking people to describe Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Though the offending student apologized, the fact it happened illustrates that even though Xavier has come a long way from the early 1960s, it still has a long way to go in the area of race relations and, more generally, human relations.

“The 1960s students showed us it was possible to commit themselves to something, to put ethical Xavier teaching into practice, and to change things,” Anderson says. “But race in America remains the one main political problem.”

Case in point: the protests that exploded in August in Ferguson, Mo., following the shooting death of a black teenager by a white police officer. It took the efforts of a handful of brave students to make everyone aware of America’s struggle with the principle of equality for all, including at Xavier. Now 50 years later, Xavier continues to make civil rights and equality a priority for its students and everyone touched by the University.

students

Race relations

• The Black Student Association advocates for the needs of African-American students at Xavier and provides scholarships to high-achieving black students.
• Africana Studies is offered as a minor to students interested in studying the history and culture of the African continent and the African diaspora.
• E Pluribus Unum is a one-credit hour course in cultural diversity that is required of all Xavier undergraduate students.

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Women and gender

• Gender and Diversity Studies is a newer major allowing students to concentrate on women and gender issues or on race and ethnicity.
• The Xavier Alliance, the first advocacy group for gay students at Xavier, has been welcoming gay students to campus and educating everyone else about gender issues since 2001.

Multicultural

• The Multicultural, Gender and Women’s Center replaced the Office of Multicultural Affairs as the University’s commitment to equality issues faced by diverse student populations.
• Xavier’s Multicultural scholarships such as Miguel Pro and Francis Weninger help cover tuition for minority students.
• Xavier created the Office of Diversity and Equity in 2005 to advance issues of diversity and inclusion.

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