An Honest Discussion About Parietals

by The Cowl Editor on January 27, 2022


silhouette of a guy and girl holding hands while walking
Photo courtesy of

by Aidan Lerner ’22

As Cowl readers will know, parietals have been in effect since women were introduced to Providence College in 1971. Their purpose was to encourage same-sex intimacy among first year students before they are exposed to the free world of non-gendered dorms. Is this performative wokeness? Sure. But in fairness to the College, performative wokeness was rare in the early 1970s and they did not get much Twitter applause for the initiative.  

While parietals are certainly a measure made in good faith, they do have their critics. The biggest concern brought up over and over again is safety. When I was a freshman, this was something I grappled with myself. On occasion, it is safer to host a female friend for the night rather than sending them out to contend with the campus at large between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m… As an off-campus student now, my friends and I have a rule which prohibits walking home alone after dark. If you can’t drive, then you can sleep on the couch until morning because, frankly, Eaton and the surrounding streets are not safe at night. 

Now, this piece does not intend to argue against parietals: quite the opposite. It would have been a shame if visitors had interrupted the closeness evolving between myself and my roommates. No, parietals have a definitive purpose and are a part of what makes PC special. For the solution to the issue of safety, I will turn to a different experiment begun during my days in the dorms. In my freshman year, my RA had a rule: we were required to walk our guests home. Why? Well, because men are monsters. 

If you are a man, you have probably heard women say this and have shaken your head, lamenting that women will not recognize that you are a “nice guy.” Well, I would encourage you to look at the world through a different lens. What would you call a testosterone-fueled muscle-bound figure who is more physically dominant than you in the same way that a car is to a squirrel? Also—fun side note—three times a week they imbibe a substance that makes them prone to aggression and removes their inhibitions. I call that a monster, and women on campus have every right to fear monsters. The beauty of my RA’s rule is that these “monsters” have the chance to be put to good use. If you are a man, you can put your physicality to work and make sure your visitors get home safe.  

Once again, dear reader, I know what you are thinking: What if I get in a fight protecting my visitor? Never fear, this is the article for you. I will teach you how to fight, with ease. First of all, do not worry about your visitor. Once you step up to confront the other man, they will be able to escape, leaving the two of you alone. Now, it is time to go to work. In my experience, it is wholly unnecessary to go all the way; these situations can be defused without getting messy. Step one is trash talk. You want to activate his primal instincts. You can comment on his intelligence or his sense of style, but the best thing to do is go after his looks. You want to whip him into a frenzy and make him want you to come at him hard. When the blood is rushing towards action, it is impossible to think straight. As you continue to whet his appetite for a fight, you throw a jab at the tip of his nose. This will cause him to tear up around the eyes and he will be disoriented. At this point, both of you will be primed for an explosion of violence. Aggression is in your DNA! But you will not give in. As quick as possible, you need to pull out of the encounter and streak away back towards the safety of your dorm. Once safe, you’ll realize that the parietals were respected, your visitor was kept safe, and no one was hurt! Congratulations, you just left the campus better than you found it! 

Ultimately, parietals have a purpose, and it is a purpose worth respecting. The traditions of Providence College are what make it so special. As a senior, I hope that life here can continue to be safer for everyone. Let us look out for one another and stay safe!