Xavier University has received the National Association for Campus Activities Outstanding Diversity Achievement Campus Program Award for its Day of Solidarity Event held on October 20, 2010. Recognizing a need for an immediate reaction to youth suicides related to bullying and the need for a proactive stance for LGBTQ individuals as a Jesuit, Catholic institution, people from all departments and from faculty, staff, administration and students came together.
The Day of Solidarity was comprised of 3 events: An open letter to the campus, “You Are Welcome at Xavier,” a daytime vigil remembering the 8 victims of suicide and distribution of resources to students, and an outdoor event called “Send Silence Packing” connected to Xavier’s student chapter of Active Minds, a national organization committed to mental health on college campuses. The open letter was published in the student newspaper and featured over 700 signatures of campus supporters, including Xavier president, Michael J. Graham, S.J. Hundreds of students, faculty and staff participated in the Day of Solidarity.
“The Day of Solidarity raised awareness and opened dialogue on campus about LGBTQ students, faculty and staff,” said Dustin Lewis, assistant director of Xavier’s Office of Student Involvement. “It also provided an outlet for the campus to engage in conversations about suicide and prevention. The event brought the campus community together and we have seen continued dialogue and discussion about the expansion of services on campus for LGBTQ students.”
The event was wholly consistent with Xavier’s Catholic mission and heritage. A statement from the 1997 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ says, “the teachings of the church make it clear that the fundamental human rights of homosexual persons must be defended and that all of us must strive to eliminate any forms on injustice, oppression, or violence against…[they] must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.”
Xavier officials will formally accept the award at the NACA National Convention in St. Louis on February 21.
The Outstanding Diversity Achievement Campus Program Award recognizes programs at NACA member institutions that positively contribute to the development of a diverse culture on campus. The criteria for the award included demonstrating an impact on enhancing the understanding of diversity awareness among the general campus community, originality and innovation, fostering meaningful relationships between diverse student groups, challenging stereotypical perceptions of diverse populations, helping students learn to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds, and generating awareness and appreciation of diverse cultures.