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Men and Women With and for Others: Xavier’s Social Justice Clubs

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Caelan Fraschetti

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Men and Women With and for Others: Xavier’s Social Justice Clubs

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Central to a Xavier education is the principle of “men and women with and for others.” The concept is woven throughout all classes and student life at Xavier. This has spurred many students over the years to start up social justice clubs, platforms which allow them to advocate for their cause, provide for the underserved, and leave behind a lasting legacy in our community.

Every year clubs come and go, and with the new year, there is a whole wave of returning and new clubs excited to share their visions for the future of Xavier and the Coachella Valley.

 

ARK Club- Meetings in Room 204, Thursdays @ Lunch

ARK Club president Cheyenne Bradley-Sharpe (left) and Mr. Fox (right) Photo courtesy of Patrick Trubee

ARK is a long-time staple of the XCP social justice community, with the 2018-2019 school year being its 6th year running. Current president Cheyenne Bradley-Sharpe says it is “a safe space for students to talk about sexuality and gender identity, and how we can help others in the community.” ARK is dedicated to making every member of the Xavier student body feel welcome. For anyone who feels alienated or left out, they are here to talk with you and help you through your struggles. Even those who may just have questions about the LGBTQ community can come and engage in a healthy dialogue.

 

Transfer Club- Location to be decided, Wednesdays @ Lunch

Much like ARK, Transfer Club seeks to create a welcoming environment for Xavier students who feel out of place. For transfer students, it can be intimidating to come to a new school, stay with a new family, make new friends, etc. As such, it can take a long time to adjust. This club provides a space to discuss with current and previous transfer students what excites you, what concerns you, any recommendations they may have, or to just talk. This will hopefully ease the transition and make transfer students feel more welcome in the Xavier community!

 

Tutoring Club- Meetings in Room 104, Mondays @ Lunch

As a college preparatory high school, Xavier strives to deliver a rigorous and comprehensive education. Many students struggle to keep up with the curriculum, and that’s where Tutoring Club steps in. Serena Zhang began this club last year when she took notice of the number of Xavier Saints who were struggling with their courses but didn’t have the time to catch up. Her goal is to help these students get back on their feet academically, particularly in the fields of math and science. For those who excel in these fields, and even those who don’t but still want to help out, membership is open to anyone.

Tutoring Club is also offering free services to local educational organizations, such as Las Palmitas Elementary School and the Boys and Girls Club. Serena notes that “While helping the organizations outside of school, we not only represent the Tutoring Club but also represent Xavier. I hope our club will represent Xavier in an exemplary way.” Students who volunteer their time have the responsibility to represent Xavier, but also the opportunity to be an example for these underserved kids. Who knows what kind of a difference could be made in their lives by helping them with a few simple math problems.

As an added bonus, members will earn service hours for time volunteered in the community.

 

Handy Helpers- Meetings in Room 112, Wednesdays @ Lunch

Handy Helpers Club Photo courtesy of Xavier’s Instagram

Another group committed to serving the Coachella Valley is Handy Helpers. They are a newly-formed volunteer club which will dedicate time after school to service projects around the Coachella Valley. Keep an eye out for upcoming information on this exciting new club!

As with the Tutoring Club, service hours will be awarded for time volunteered.

 

Senior Outreach Club- Meetings in Room 106, Mondays @ Lunch

When people get older and can no longer care for themselves, they are often sent away to retirement communities where they have little to no interaction with the youth. Their grandkids move away, or they don’t have any, to begin with, and unless they get visitors most of the people they interact with are 65 and over. Senior Outreach Club, led by Emma Johansen, seeks to connect the marginalized senior citizen community with the youth and bring joy to the lives of the elderly at the Mission Hills homes. Through the club, Emma wants to “form bonds that lessen the gaps in connection and relationship between generations in the Coachella Valley.”

This year the club plans to implement a pen pal program to promote communication between club members and seniors. Not only will this benefit the seniors’ happiness, but it will also give students the opportunity to hear their stories. Everyone who lives in these homes has had decades of life experience and thousands of stories but has no one to share them with. Now, through the Senior Outreach Club, they can.

 

United We Stand- Meetings in Room 208, Tuesdays @ Lunch

(left to right) Jacqueline Scibona, United We Stand co-president Nadiya Abubo, and Ale Wiggins Photo courtesy of Patrick Trubee

United We Stand, started by Andrea Younes last year, has undergone some major changes since its inception. Andrea is now joined by co-president Nadiya Abubo, and the two are altering the club’s mission this year. What started out as a club solely focused on immigration and reaching out to immigrants trying to assimilate themselves into American life, has expanded into a wide-reaching social advocacy club. Andrea stated that she and Nadiya “want to reach out to our age group and say, ‘You do have a voice. If you want to stand up for something you believe in you have the power to do so.’”

With that being said, immigration still seems to be at the heart of the program, with plans underway to sell bracelets made by the Kino Border Initiative women’s shelter down in Nogales, Mexico. This would be a non-profit project, with all proceeds going back to the shelter. Andrea hopes to use this as an opportunity to tell the stories of the women who made the bracelets and make their lives known.

Andrea and Nadiya also plan to host another Shookfoil this year as a follow-up to last year’s on immigration, however, they have not yet decided on a theme.

 

Gender Equality- Meetings in Room 109, Thursdays @ Lunch

(left to right) Ms. Montez, Gender Equality Club vice president Rylee Mangan, and club president Marni McDowell Photo courtesy of Patrick Trubee

Gender Equality is a club new to Xavier, started this year by club president Marni McDowell. This club is a place for open discussion of issues such as women’s equality, the wage gap in America, and inequality within the Xavier community. Marni and her vice president Rylee Mangan plan to use these open discussions and documentaries to raise questions about gender equality and inspire students to stand up for their rights.

In an interview, Marni said, “I don’t know everything about gender equality or gender inequality, but I feel like someone else teaching that in TED talks, documentaries, and short films can really help us learn more about the issues in America.” These clubs are a place for everyone to learn and communicate, even those who are organizing them. Those who come to meetings do not have to be well-informed or extremely passionate about social justice to participate. They just have to be open to growth and willing to listen to the ideas of others.

In an effort to make an impact outside of the Xavier community, there is the possibility of immersion trips organized by the club, such as volunteering at the women’s shelter in East Los Angeles.

Gender Equality and United We Stand have been in communication, and plan to meet together once or twice a month to combine their ideas. The clubs discussed working together to help sell the Kino bracelets from the women’s shelter, and there is the talk of taking a group down to participate in the Los Angeles Women’s March in January.

Marni hopes “the club lives on to help social justice and promote what our education is about.”

 

Take The Floor- Meetings in the Student Commons, Thursdays after school

While Gender Equality and Take The Floor both strive to promote equality of opportunity for women, Take The Floor is more focused on building up women in the world of business and job opportunity. Club president Olivia Halton sees the club as a platform for guest speakers to engage with the female student body, sharing their experiences in developing a company from the ground up, or what it is like to work in industries dominated by men. Those who attend will receive first-hand advice from women in the field of business and hopefully be inspired to pursue their passions in the future.

The club’s first meeting is planned for today, September 27, from 5:30 to 7:00 pm and the guest speaker will be Kate Somerville. Somerville is a female entrepreneur and CEO of a successful skincare company sourced out of Hollywood.

 

Youth Court- Meetings in Room 209, Wednesdays after school

Youth Court is only in its second year at Xavier, however, the program was established back in the late 90s to provide the Coachella Valley’s youth with a second chance at a clean criminal record. This year, the club is headed by co-presidents Jolie Morrison and Anastasia Almanza. The whole operation at Xavier is overseen by Attorney Douglas Gee.

The program acts as an early intervention for first-time offenders of misdemeanor crimes between the ages of 10 and 17. It is a courtroom entirely run by volunteers from local high schools and overseen by an adult judge. Students defend and prosecute, and a youth jury determines the sentence, which is some form of community service.

Jolie says that she and Anastasia “hope to get more kids engaged with the law; to look at it as a prospective career while also giving kids within the Coachella Valley a second chance to a clean criminal record.” Along with providing the valley’s youth with a second chance, the program is designed to increase members’ knowledge of and respect for the juvenile justice process.

Service hours will be awarded for attending meetings and time spent in the Indio courtroom at trials.

 

The success of social justice clubs in the Xavier community, and whether or not their influence continues to grow, is dependent on the support and passion of the student body. As “men and women with and for others,” our identity as a school is defined by clubs like these; by students going out and making a difference. There are so many different reasons to join social justice clubs, from giving back to the community to the fact that it looks good on college transcripts, but whatever your reasoning may be, one thing is certain: the positive impact these clubs have on our community is undeniable. 

 

Works Cited:

Bradley-Sharpe, Cheyenne. Personal interview. 06 Sep 2018.

Halton, Olivia. Personal interview. 07 Sep 2018.

Johansen, Emma. Personal interview. 15 Sep 2018.

Kate Somerville. Kate Somerville Skincare, https://www.katesomerville.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=brand_core&gclid=CjwKCAjw8uLcBRACEiwAaL6MScJRO_951myi5UbH01o9ZeBzyRbyEZT0k86lCEH1sBSBZm-Tu2JaEBoCcOsQAvD_BwE&dclid=CNrB1u_ztN0CFfEMrQYd88sLnA.

McDowell, Marni. Personal interview. 07 Sep 2018.

Morrison, Jolie. Personal interview. 15 Sep 2018.

Younes, Andrea, and Abubo, Nadiya. Personal interview. 07 Sep 2018.

Zhang, Serena. Personal interview. 14 Sep 2018.

 

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Caelan Fraschetti, Writer

I am a senior at Xavier this year. I enjoy ceramics and writing. My favorite place in the world is the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy. I have two younger...

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Men and Women With and for Others: Xavier’s Social Justice Clubs