Congress Updates

by The Cowl Editor on February 15, 2018

Congress Updates

by Connor Nolan ‘19

Student Congress Publicity

This past Tuesday, Father Brian Shanley, O.P., came to speak to the Congress and field any questions or concerns from its members.  He began by speaking about construction projects on campus now and in the future. He spoke of his relief in the fact that the new sciences building is developing on time, but still has a long road ahead of it. If the new additions are ready by next fall, they can begin “phase two” which includes renovating the badly outdated portions of the building. The Ruane Friar Development Center’s steel work is almost completed, and they hope that the basketball team will be able to utilize it by next September, according to Fr. Shanley.

After that is completed, they plan on creating some sort of atrium between Slavin and Alumni as well as renovating ’64 Hall.  Providence College is also looking into adding a second story to Slavin in order to give Career Services more space to expand. Fr. Shanley then shifted his focus to the question, “what next?”

Apparently, the College has set its sights on improvements to residential housing for the next building plan.  A firm is in the process of being hired to come in and evaluate the housing currently on campus.  Fr. Shanley assumes that Aquinas Hall and other underclassmen dorms will be the main focus of any projects as well as the area “behind the business school,” which is very outdated.

Fr. Shanley then opened the floor to questions. Students asked who would be allowed to use the Friar Development Center, and if tuition money is going to it if we are unable to utilize its facilities. Fr. Shanley was unsure of the numbers as far as the tuition question was concerned, but the facility will be solely utilized by athletics and predominantly the basketball team. However, Fr. Shanley believes this will allow Alumni’s facilities to be more available to the student body for club or intramural sports.

Fr. Shanley also hinted at the school attempting to cover a field for rainy days so that sports practices and other activities can still take place. One student asked if the school planned on making changes to food options on campus in any upcoming plans, but Fr. Shanley believed changes to Ray and alumni to not be as important as some of the plans he had previously discussed. Another member stated that as the College makes residential changes, more study areas should be added as the library and Ryan Center are often full of students and it can be tough to find an area to work.  Father Shanley then spoke briefly about his upcoming sabbatical and talked about Father Kenneth Siccard, O.P., taking over his duties while he is away.

One student talked about having spoken to trustees who were unhappy with the College’s work in completing its Catholic mission statement. He answered that it took many years to rework the current mission statement. Also, there are people who believe the College is doing too little, and some who think they are doing too much.  According to Fr. Shanley, this is a sign that a middle ground has been found. He was also asked about the school increasing its environmental practices utilized on campus. He said that in the last few days they have made an agreement to use more solar energy on campus.  Many questions followed regarding the increase in tuition and room and board implemented by the College.

Some students suggested implementing a freeze program so a student pays the same price all four years, and some thought more of the money should be going to financial aid.  Also, a student wondered if the school could allow more financial aid rather than the loans offered.

The questions then shifted to a more academic focus. Fr. Shanley was asked about ways to improve the standing of the business school and stated that changes may be made to quell the number of students allowed into the school. One student suggested having a class that is required for all majors to help with this or a GPA requirement.

He then said the school may not be doing a good enough job of encouraging students to choose majors they enjoy or are good at rather than preparing to get a job. Courses are being looked into to help better prepare freshmen for these major decisions. Fr. Shanley was also asked why classes were not cancelled to allow students to attend Dr. Bernice King’s Convocation speech, and he stated he wished he could have but the preparations for the event happened too late. The Congress would like to thank Fr. Shanley for attending and fielding the student bodies questions.

The first piece of old business at this week’s meeting regarded the clarification of Board of Programmers as a passive member within congress.  The wording was changed slightly to show their representative will no longer have a vote.  The BOP representative spoke to this making sense, and the piece was put to a vote.  It was passed by all present members.

The second piece of old business regarded asking the dean’s office to hire an outside group to come in and evaluate the campus’ accessibility for students with disabilities.  Students seemed very receptive to this idea, and the vote was passed unanimously.

The first piece of new business presented before the club regarded the formation of a Cooking Club on campus.  The club was very prepared with a slideshow and explanation for their future plans if approved by the Congress.  They also brought up how this can help diversity and inclusion, by including students of many cultures and cooking dishes from these cultures.  They have been utilizing the Campus Ministry kitchen with Father Peter Martyr Yungwirth, O.P.  They have some need for money and supplies in order to get certain cooking utensils.  When asked if these numbers would go down following the purchase of reusable items, they agreed that was the case.  They currently have over one hundred members and have come up with safety waivers, as well as schedules to sign up and cook.  Students in the Congress spoke to the merits of the club, and it should be voted upon at the next general meeting.

The next piece of new business regarded the formal recognition of Astronomy Club.  The presenters seemed very prepared, and even had multiple professors who were aiding the club through use of equipment such as telescopes.  They claimed to not require much funding other than to maybe take trips to the Brown University observatory.  They claimed the school does not provide many of the opportunities that they wish to.  The club will more than likely be voted upon next week.

The final piece of new business regarded the posting of professors’ office hours on a master list that would be available to all on Sakai.  The presenter said this would be a streamlined way to view office hours and that it had the support of at least one prominent professor on campus.  It will fall to the administrative assistants in each department to deal with this and could be a great help to many students of different majors.  A member wondered if this was necessary due to their locations on Sakai and in syllabi for specific classes, but the presenter stated that this would be helpful for all students. The presenter went on to explain that for instance, if a student is looking to meet with an advisor or a teacher they do not currently have to see if they want to take their class or are interested in the major they teach in. This piece should be voted upon at the next general meeting of congress.