by Lela Biggus ’18
It seems today that our world is more divided and broken than ever. Humanity resides in a state of disillusioned acceptance. We are battered by natural disasters, haunted by the persistent droning on of news notifications, and numbed to the noise of it all.It is as if we are ready for calamity. As if our collective human unconscious is aware of its own self-destruction. Nothing can surprise us anymore.
If there is one thing that still keeps us hopeful, together, engaged, relating to one another as human beings, challenging each others’ views, and sticking up for our own, it’s the Calabria Torch.There has been a lot of talk lately about the newest addition to our lovely campus. The campus is buzzing with good things and bad things, but I wanted to get a more comprehensive look at how the Providence College student body as a whole feels about the flame. When asking around, students provided more than a few impassioned responses.
Using qualitative data analysis, a list of student responses has been compiled and categorized according to the nature of each comment and whether or not they were positively or negatively connoted. Without further ado, here are a few student opinions, the campus conversation, the talk of the town: Friar feels on the flame.
Some students feel just okay about it: Grace Koonce ’20 said, “I think it will end up being a cool addition to campus but I wish the money was used for housing and dorms.” Bridget McFadden ’18 said, “It was empty there before and they added something to the space so it’s cool with me.”
Some students criticize the flame’s physical attributes: Natalie Phelps ’19 bluntly noted, “It’s crooked honestly.” John Tait ’18 commented, “The torch is meant as a symbol for the light of truth. Truthfully, I think it would look best in the absence of any light.” Caroline McBride ’18 commented, “Personally, I am not in favor of the flame. I loved the clear sight lines across Slavin Lawn, and while I love the addition of outdoor seating, I would have preferred something that isn’t a monstrosity.” One student was completely indifferent: “It’s there, it’ll be there forever. I don’t care.”
Many people shared valid complaints about the utility of the statue itself: Emma Lederer ’18 is wondering, “Can we climb it when it’s finished? Can I hang my hammock on it? Because if not, I am not a fan. Claudia Seguin ’18 said, “It’s not interactive enough.” John Birle ’19 commented, “I don’t see the connection between donating a flame and the improvement of student success in the classroom, and that’s what alumni donations should be generated towards.”
Many students focused on the price of the statue: One student asked, “Can I shave off a foot of it and purchase [my club’s] entire budget for five years?”“Giant waste of money and could have gone towards better food or housing!” “That thing could have paid my tuition.” “With that amount of money, I could have created a statue beautiful enough to present to the gods.”
Some were downright negative: “It’s super awkward.” “Really just not a fan.” “Never once did I look at the grass and think, ‘Wow, I need a giant flame there.’” Emma Lederer ’18 stated, “I don’t like it. I don’t like change.”
Others were more optimistic: Lauren Berolini ’17, a graduate student said, “While I was initially surprised by the size of the flame, I am hoping it will look like a more integrated part of campus and become an asset to the campus once it is completed.” Muna Abdulle ’21 said, “I think it’s a good place to sit when it gets hot out—rather than sitting on the grass outside of Slavin Lawn, while you enjoy the view!”
So there you have it: in this modern world seemingly shrouded in darkness, a bright light shines on the horizon…if the horizon were Slavin lawn. We may not all agree on our new friend the flame, but at least we are all talking about it. Nothing restores our common humanity like good conversation with friends about a gargantuan space-sucking, upside-down metallic octopus.