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A Xavier Party

By Ryan Lavalley
On November 30, 2011

When you walk into a party and scan the people dancing, talking and drinking, you hope to find a scene that's worth engaging in – more than a superficial humpfest

of young adult pheromones and suffocating Axe spray. With the Xavier community, we hope for a similar scene.

Every year a new group of young people walk into our party

and change the dynamics of our community just a little, but

the hosts of our Xavier party consistently remain the administration. This group decides the "house rules."

The summit of the administration consists of the Board of

Trustees, of which Father Michael Graham, S.J. is a member. Contrary to possible misconception, final decisions are not made solely by the President. Instead, the Board of Trustees decides which music and games will be played at our party. Consisting of 42 members, Xavier University's Board of Trustees is chaired by Mr. Robert J.

Kohlhepp, Director of the Cintas Corporation and Parker Hannifin Corporation. Other members include a Vice President of Strategy at McDonald's Corporation, the President & CEO of Eli Lilly and Company and a Director of the Nike Corporation, the President & COO of The Kroger Co. and other members representing companies like Macy's, Procter & Gamble, Bluestar Inc., Fifth Third

Bank and Gallagher Enterprises. Joining these representatives are lawyers from firms focused in business law. The majority of the members of our Board are "business" related. The question then becomes where does our Jesuit Liberal Arts Tradition fit in? Accompanying Father Graham, seven other members of the Society of Jesus provide the Jesuit presence within our administration. Nevertheless, seven out of 42 is by no means a majority. With this composition, it seems to follow

that our University would lean toward a business model because individuals with a business mindset are making the decisions, but does that align with Xavier's mission

and identity? Let me be clear, I do not intend to make any assumptions about the character of the members of our Board or to imply they are trying to affect the University

negatively. I simply recognize that in my almost four years at

this University, it seems our community has changed. The house rules have shifted from Jesuit Tradition to Competitive Market. At my Manresa, our group leaders led

screams of "We love the core!" Now, there is debate about the efficiency and necessity of the core. Instead of fortifying the character and mission that has attracted students for years, we seem to believe plasma screen TVs and shiny

buildings will somehow better attract high caliber students. Instead of funding Service Learning opportunities that our University still claims to provide, like a semester in Ghana, we buy stock tickers. In the heavy business concentration of our Board, have we forgotten the value of the Liberal

Arts and Jesuit Tradition? Has the superficial marketability" of Xavier overshadowed the integrity of our invaluable

foundation? Has a "swoosh" next to the X become more significant than what the X stands for? The beauty of

Xavier's tradition is that it does not sit idly by, hoping that students will challenge themselves to be oriented toward

service and solidarity. Instead, it actively moves to empower and educate students in contemplation, action and ultimately justice in their careers. How do we preserve this identity and mission in light of the fact that Xavier does and must function as a business? How do we find a healthy relationship between justice, identity and profit? How are

we expected to maintain the community-based and justice- oriented education of the Jesuit mission when the

people making decisions are simply running a business?

Xavier is an educational institution meant to form students who will improve our world but also a business meant to make profit. As a community, we need to decide which our priority is.


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