The phrase heard most often on the Providence College campus is probably “Friar Family.” Friar Family means that all students, staff, and faculty are supposed to be welcome and accepted in the community on this campus. And with Spotlight Providence, the first accepted students event for the class of 2023, happening this weekend, the Friar Family will soon be growing and changing.
With last year’s freshman class being the most diverse class of students yet, it is clear that the Friar Family is changing and will continue to change. Just like a traditional family, there will be disagreements and difficulties. But the wonderful thing about the Friar Family is the many different ideas and experiences that each member brings to campus, even if that means there will be arguments and disagreements. Throughout life we will all be in situations with people who do not share our opinions and college is a time when we can work on having these difficult discussions and on learning to have them respectfully.
It is not and never will be enough to continue to say “Friar Family” without understanding what must go into that idea. Families are never easy. They are made up of many different people with different ideas. Some may seem entirely unconnected except by genetics. Some may not be connected by genetics at all. But the concept of a ‘family’ represents something enduring. The PC community is not just a group of people, but a family of people. And as anyone who has had an awkward family holiday dinner can tell you, avoiding difficult topics for the sake of ‘family’ is not a strategy that ends well. Work must be done to ensure that the “Friar Family” truly does mean family to everyone.
What is strange this year is that as I show PC off to these new members of the Friar Family, this is the first class of students that I will welcome to the College and yet, will never share the campus with. While I will still consider myself part of the PC community, the other members of the class of 2019 and I will soon no longer be involved in the discussions that happen on campus.
It will be up to the current and new students to continue to make the Friar Family on campus a family for everyone. It is important work, and if we are dedicated to the Dominican values of love and truth on which this school was founded, it is work that matters to each and every one of us.