A group of students, alumni and faculty at Xavier University are pushing back against a recent decision to appoint Joe Deters as “justice in residence” on the university’s campus.
Deters, the former Hamilton County prosecutor and newly-appointed Ohio Supreme Court justice, immediately started the voluntary position on Feb. 22.
As “justice in residence,” Deters participates in “various class sessions” and takes part in academic events and “co-curricular programs related to his area of professional expertise,” according to an announcement from the university.
Xavier student Ethan Nichols, who is on the student advisory board at Xavier’s College of Arts and Sciences, created a petition to remove Deters from his role on campus. More than 600 people have signed the petition.
“As members of the Xavier University community, we condemn the decision to bring Justice Deters into our community. His views, past comments, and actions are antithetical to our Jesuit values,” Nichols said in a news release.
Deters, who has never been a judge, was named to Ohio’s Supreme Court in December by Gov. Mike DeWine, bringing the court to a 4-3 conservative majority. Deters filled the seat of Justice Sharon Kennedy after her ascent to chief justice was decided by voters in November.
Deters has 25 years of controversial tough-on-crime legal work under his belt, serving Hamilton County as prosecutor from 1992-1999 and again from 2005 to 2022. Before that, he was the state treasurer from 1999 to 2004 and was elected clerk of courts in Hamilton County in 1998.
“I am delighted to welcome Justice Deters to our community and am so excited for the expertise that he will bring to our students in some of our most rigorous and successful programs,” said Xavier University President Colleen Hanycz in a press release. “High-impact experiential learning is one of the spires of academic excellence at Xavier, and having Justice Deters’ wealth of knowledge available to our students will be invaluable.”
Deters did not attend Xavier University but did attend St. Xavier High School.
Cincinnati Public Schools board member Mike Moroski, who graduated from Xavier University in 2001, said in a press release that Deters’ values are at odds with Xavier’s principles.
“Xavier taught me to treat people equitably and kindly. Mr. Deters has a demonstrated track record and a history of rhetoric that is at odds with those principles,” Moroski said.
Xavier University officials did not respond to CityBeat’s request for comment on the petition by press time.
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