On Wednesday, November 7, 2018, five female Xavier University students, Jia Kirk-Walker, Mekayla Urriola, Jazmine Rodgers, Morgan Harvey, and Taylor Sutton took their student project for Dr. Tia Smith’s Women Studies Class to a new level. These young ladies turned their class project into an opportunity for mobilization to petition for safer practices and protections of Xavier students. After the sexual assault that occurred Morgan Harvey, one of the students made a personal statement regarding the purpose of their project.
“We are tired. We want to make sure not only are our faces counted as far as the numbers at Xavier but our voices as well. Because the Xavier woman is often seen but never heard. That’s what #DOYOUHEARHERXU means.”
Xavier Students, particularly the female students, feel as if they are not given enough representation in school. Despite the female population at Xavier being extremely high the lack of voice given to them is disappointingly low. Many attendants of the meeting feel lost and disrespected by the lack of assistance offered by the Xavier police department. When the meeting first began two questions were asked that shocked many in attendance. The audience was in shock to discover that Xavier Police Department neither administration were in attendance to the meeting at the initial start time, which they were offered to attend. However, later some administration as well as Xavier Police Department Chief, Jacques Battiste, joined the conversation. In addition to that, when the question was asked about who was familiar with the process to report sexual assault no one in the room is familiar with the protocol because they feel that information was not made available to them.
Many attendants walked up to the mic and discussed frustration at the Xavier Police Department for the lack of protection of women at night especially with a campus with over a 75% women population. In the conversation it was stated as to how women on campus should take responsibility for their own safety, however, it was also brought to attention that pepper sprays and tasers, protective devices, are contraband. An idea was proposed that the University set the strength limit that a pepper spray canister can be and allow students to carry them for protection.
One attendant stated this about Xavier P.D. “We are only asking them to their jobs. We asked them to do their jobs so we can go out, graduate and do ours.”
There were many ideas that circulated around the room in order to alleviate the problems of walking around at night to reduce sexual assault at night. These ideas included self-defense and R.A.D. classes, as well as utilizing social media to find people to help their fellow Xavierites be safe at night. Although many ideas did cause a disturbance and an uproar the understanding that passed between all classifications and genders was definitely there. Public service announcements were made towards XULA P.D. as well as Xavieritiettes to take Xavier’s status of being the only Catholic HBCU further than a status but as a time to love and support fellow Xavierites. One problem identified was the need for communication between XUPD and the idea of a discussion or forum that would create an active conversation between the two. The majority of the conversation circulated on the fact that Xavier Police Department needs to pay more attention to safety, consistency, and protection measures for the women as well as men on campus. XULA Police Chief Battiste seemed eager to help in order to make female Xavierites feel safer on campus as well as to improve the XULA safety app that was said during the meeting to have crashed earlier this week.