Xavier is receiving an outstanding diversity achievement campus program award from the National Association for Campus Activities for its "You Are Welcome At Xavier" Day of Solidarity event held in October.
The event recognized youth suicides related to bullying and the need for a proactive stance for LGBTQ individuals. It included three events:
• An open letter to the campus that was published in the student newspaper, The Newswire, and featured more than 700 signatures of campus supporters, including Xavier president Michael J. Graham, S.J.;
• A daytime vigil titled “You Are Welcome at Xavier” that remembered the eight victims of suicide;
• And an outdoor event called “Send Silence Packing,” which was run by Xavier’s student chapter of Active Minds. Active Minds is a national organization committed to mental health on college campuses.
“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 Feb. 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.