by Connor Nolan ‘19
This week the Congress welcomed Fr. Kenneth Sicard, O.P., executive vice president treasurer of Providence College, to speak during its general meeting on Tuesday, April 11. He spoke on a variety of topics to kick off the meeting including the recent external review performed regarding the Development of Western Civilization curriculum. Fr. Sicard said that there have been small changes as a result of the review, and he hopes they continue to include some neglected cultures and ideas. In addition, he spoke briefly about the changes to the elementary and special education department under Dr. Vance Morgan. He then shifted the topic towards the diversity panel on campus in which students and faculty members work together in order to increase the College’s cultural agility.
Fr. Sicard stated that he is very happy with the College’s work to hire a new vice president of institutional diversity, a search that is still ongoing. He went into depth about some of the recent hires and other ongoing interview processes as well. Fr. Sicard wanted more students on campus to be involved in the open interviews where students are asked to be an important part of the decision-making process.
He then spoke about how his goal is for the diversity panel to shift more towards being proactive rather than always reacting to problems that arise. This had become a goal for him after a lot of the issues they have had to react to this year and seeing how many members of the community still feel hurt by the words or actions of others. He talked about the development of a new strategic plan for the College, adding, “Despite progress we think we made we still have a long way to go.” Fr. Sicard also talked shortly about Rev. Father Brian J. Shanley’s, O.P., sabbatical, and how he will be taking over Fr. Shanley’s role as president of the College during that time.
He then fielded questions from the Congress. One question regarded Moore Hall and some of the issues that have arisen since its opening. Fr. Sicard and Dean Sears alluded to the fact that a hiring has taken place for a director of programming and any other issues and promised to look into some of the structural issues raised about the building. Another question regarded the accessibility for students with disabilities on campus. He answered that he assumed that work was done on this during construction and renovations that have taken place.
The conversation then shifted to questions regarding tuition and financial aid at PC. He stated that they have had people come in and suggest that keeping competitive pricing with our “competitors” is very important and that a high percentage of tuition raises are put into financial aid. One student pointed out that this leads to an almost endless cycle of increases to the price of the school, a price that has increased 60 percent in almost 10 years. He also admitted that he was not the best person to speak to about this and suggested students speak to John Sweeney, chief financial officer, regarding these issues. Fr. Sicard also said an important aspect of increasing financial aid is to increase the endowment, something that is very important to the College.
The Congress also welcomed Dr. Nick Longo, a professor from the public and community service department to speak shortly following Fr. Sicard about his support for a piece of legislation that was presented later. The piece regarded the shifting of the allocation of the funds received from the Dunkin’ Donuts on campus.
During announcements, the class of 2019 advertised that they will be hosting a junior night on April 27 in McPhail’s, be on the lookout for times.
Student Life will be meeting with the head of Raymond Hall on Friday and are open to suggestions via email.
The Academics Committee spoke to the recent attempts to create a Global Studies minor on campus. Those presenting the idea to the College are looking for feedback before they present to the department on April 25.
The Board of Programmers will be hosting Chopped: Dorm Room Edition this coming Saturday at 8:30 p.m. in McPhail’s.
Legislation was presented to help streamline the process for presenting legislation and avoid subjects that have already been covered in the past. Rather than asking if and how it will be implemented after a vote is passed, it will streamline and improve the process by going through the necessary channels. It will allow the committees of Congress whose work it pertains to offer help and guidance in their area of expertise. The vote was passed.
The first piece of new business regarded the aforementioned reallocation of funds the school collects from Dunkin’ Donuts to be applied to a class offered at the College which invests money in programs to improve local communities. The class gives a grant to an organization and does thorough work to choose to whom the money will be given. For instance, this year the class used their money to help people in local communities meet their basic needs.
The second piece of legislation regarded the offering of a first aid and health course here at Providence College. The presenters wished for support from the student body due to members of the administration pushing back against the idea due to liability issues. They foresaw this class as a one credit course that teaches basic first aid to have going forward in life with possible certifications possibly being offered as well.
Another piece regarded the allowance for graduate students to utilize the Health Center and Personal Counseling Center on campus. The Committee of Health Policy and Dr. James Campbell have been looking into this, and the piece was presented to show student support. Its passing would allow these issues to be further explored and discussed.
The final piece of new legislation regarded internal elections policies for the Congress. It would not allow a member of the elections committee to work on the election and its outcomes if they have formally endorsed a candidate who is running. This led to some questions as to logistics, but the presenters reiterated that this piece was not necessary due to anything that has happened recently, but it is to avoid Congress ever being tarnished or made to look bad in the future.