1,400 Cowls Missing: What Happened?

by The Cowl Editor on September 21, 2017

Editor's Column

by Marla Gagne ’18


Dear Providence College Community,

Friday afternoon, Paige and I, along with most of our staff, were wrapping up after  a long week. After a few hours of work and class, we were ready to head home and enjoy the weekend. But as I started to leave the library, I got a text—all of the Cowls in Raymond Dining Hall were gone.

My first reaction was excitement as many alumni and potential students were on campus and may have picked up our issue. But the more practical side of me was saying something was suspicious. I had been in Ray just a few hours before and all three shelves were pretty full.  Unfortunately, my skeptical side was right.

The library stacks were gone by 2:30 p.m. and, after asking library staff members, they informed me those shelves too had been stacked a few hours ago. Soon it became apparent almost all 1,400 issues of The Cowl were gone. Gone from Harkins and Ruane, the library and Ray. Gone from various spots in Slavin, including outside our office, and Ryan and Smith. The paper, which usually takes about two hours to deliver on Thursday night, was fully missing from campus.

We were left with simple and confusing facts—the paper was gone in a  span of a few hours and no one had seen it actually disappear. Paige and I immediately contacted Richy Kless, Associate Director of the Office of Community Standards and our Cowl adviser, who was also surprised by the  missing papers. We worked together to contact Dean Sears’ office. No official word had come from the school to pull the Cowls and no one had any information. We also have been working very closely with security to file a report. They started to look at footage to find answers.

One week later, The Cowl staff is still pursuing promising leads with security. As students, we know how much effort and time writing an essay can be. Ideas, research, rough drafts, editing, and finally that completed product. Like any writing, the process of creating a newspaper is just that—a process.

Each week editors can easily spend over 20 hours a week each in the office, holding meetings, brainstorming ideas, and then putting together the issue—layout, graphics, captions, headlines, and editing articles. Each article is a piece of work, starting from a simple idea before being transformed by research,  interviews, creativity, and a narrative. Each article then is put through three rounds of editing, having a total of nine people correct every article. Repeat this process for every article for a group of 80-plus editors and writers.

We love to write and we love this process—you have to feel that way to devote so much time and energy to this. We pride ourselves on being the voice of PC staff, faculty, and students and covering the issues that count. But when the Cowls were taken, our own right to inform the PC community and to express our ideas, was taken. And your right as the reader, to be informed, was violated too.

The Cowl is a product of 80-plus people—a team effort that happens every week and holds as a PC student tradition for over 80 years. Our writers are very dedicated to this publication and to the school and were very disappointed to find their hard work gone and hours spent wasted with no answer.

The investigation is ongoing and we hope to find answers soon. We thank everyone who has supported us in our search and that have helped us thus far. We thank all our readers who were able to pick up a copy before they disappeared and everyone who has been checking our website, thecowl.com, or our social media to read last week’s content.

Going forward, if anyone has any information that might be relevant to finding answers, please contact PC’s Department of Public Safety (401-865-2391) or our advisor Richard Kless (rkless@providence.edu).

We thank you for your support each week and hope you enjoy this week’s issue of The Cowl.