by Anthony Hart ’19
Providence College students miss out on essential life experience and personal development because, throughout their four years, they often remain in what many call the “PC Bubble.” During the school year, students tend to remain on campus or in the immediate surrounding neighborhoods with minimal exposure to the world outside of PC. I, myself, have experienced the claustrophobic feeling that comes with a limited ability to access areas outside of the campus area as a result of a lack or ignorance of available sources of transportation. There is not one person or department to blame for the feeling of entrapment that many students face; we all chose to go to a school located in a city and, more specifically, in an area that offers minimal off-campus entertainment options within walking distance. But let us face it, one can only walk to LaSalle, PC Foodmart, or a local pizza joint so many times before it becomes dull or one gains five pounds.
Remaining on-campus for the majority of the eight-ish months that students are at PC during the year keeps them in a singular frame of mind. During that time, the College and Eaton Street make up the majority of many students’ college experience. It is oh so common of a routine—wake up, go to class, exercise, study, go to a weekend get-together that is similar to the one from the week before, repeat. The difficulty, expense, and/or mere inconvenience of trying to get off campus keeps many students in this mindset, hindering them from embracing the “real world” and the wonderful cultures that make up the city of Providence. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with the overall PC culture. However, although the “Friar Family” attitude at PC is unique and comforting, just like our own families at home, it can become smothering and drive us crazy.
For these reasons, I believe that the College should take greater steps to educate students, especially incoming students, on the transportation resources available to students, including the RIPTA and PC’s Shuttle Services. Sure, college students are older and (hopefully) mature enough to figure out the RIPTA schedule and take the bus on their own. Nevertheless, the RIPTA, while free and incredibly useful, is under advertised by the College and outright confusing. In fact, from what I have experienced and what I have been told by my peers, the RIPTA occasionally fails to stop at the only bus stop on campus, located next to the security gate on Huxley Avenue. Incoming students may hear about the RIPTA from an orientation leader or through word of mouth, but the schedule and drop-off locations could be better broadcasted by the College during orientation and throughout residence halls.
PC Shuttle Services is another form of transportation which is extremely helpful but is unknown to a large portion of the student population. Nonetheless, there are two loops made by shuttle services. According to Transportation Services, the first loop is the “Neighborhood Shuttle Loop” which picks students up at Raymond Dining Hall and makes stops at “PC Annex, Shaws Supermarket, Golden Crust Pizza, Shell Station on Admiral and River Avenues, Admiral and Carteret Street, CVS on Admiral Street, Douglas Avenue at Berkshire, and PC Foodmart.” There is also the East Side Shuttle which goes as far as CVS on Thayer Street and the Providence Place Mall to pick up and drop off students.
In addition to spreading the word about PC Shuttle Services and better explaining the RIPTA, the one obvious—yet highly unrealistic—way that the College could help pop the PC Bubble is to expand student parking. It is clear that the campus has limited space, and expansion is unlikely considering the College’s urban location. However, the fact that even seniors are not guaranteed a parking spot on campus is laughable. After three years of taking the RIPTA and spending money on Uber and Lyft, many seniors are deprived of on-campus parking because spaces are full within two hours of the parking application going online. This means another year of taking the RIPTA or bumming a roommates’ car to go to the grocery store. Meanwhile juniors, and even a small number of sophomores who “know somebody,” receive parking spaces.
Whatever steps the College does or does not take, I believe that the development of PC students is hindered by their limited exposure to the world outside of campus during the school year. A simple explanation of the RIPTA at orientation, an increase in advertising for PC Shuttle Services, and/or the expansion of student parking could help to pop the PC Bubble and expand the horizons of all students throughout their four years at the College.