Seniors Splurge on SRW: A Fiscal Focus on Priceless Memories
by Catherine Brewer ’20
If you have ever heard of “puttin’ on the ritz,” the Class of 2020 took it to the next level at this year’s Senior Ring Weekend (SRW), held November 8-10, 2019. Boasting a 1920s Great Gastby theme—complete with a “Prohibition Punch” sangria—and three days of events, the highly-anticipated celebration marked an important milestone in the Providence College tradition.
Attendees danced the nights away, and money flowed just as fast as the champagne: with a budget of roughly $120,000 and tickets at $75 each, SRW remains one of the most expensive events of the year—and it is almost entirely organized by students.
“My initial guess would be $600,” said Monet Eugene ’20 on how much she likely spent on SRW. In addition to purchasing new dresses and shoes for both nights, she indulged in a variety of beauty treatments: hair extensions, acrylic nails, eyelash extensions, and two trips to the MAC store to have her makeup done professionally.
On the weekend alone, the final bill was around $652, not counting the class ring that Eugene had purchased months earlier for $500.
When asked if she would spend the same amount knowing the end dollar amount, Eugene explained that she would, adding that it was “completely worth it.”
For his attire on Friday, Dakorite Ojuka ’20 picked up two new pieces: a blazer for $225 and shoes for $100. While he already owned a tuxedo, he purchased a second pair of new shoes for Saturday. Drinks before and at both events added on just over $50. Not including his ticket or $250 class ring, Ojuka guessed he had spent around $350. In reality, this number was closer to $410, and Ojuka spent around $736 on the occasion as a whole. “I spent way more than I thought,” he realized.
Others invested more money in the night of the event itself. While Jackson Piantedosi ’20 already had a suit to wear on Friday night and spent only $50 to rent a tuxedo for Saturday, he spent $80 on drinks alone for him and his date over the course of two nights. Piantedosi’s initial estimate of his spending was $125, but his end total was closer to $190. “I honestly would’ve gone up to $200…I had a good time,” he explained.
While the cost of the on-campus events is covered primarily by a $40,000 budget allocation from Student Congress, the remaining $80,000 owed to the off-campus venue was funded by the approximately 1,100 tickets sold, according to Ella Sheehan ’20, Co-Chair of Formal Night on the SRW Core. As in previous years, each ticket granted access to Friday’s Special Events Night in Peterson Recreation Center, Saturday’s Formal Night at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, RI, and Sunday’s Ring Ceremony, also held in Peterson.
Sheehan also explained that even though Twin River has been used for Formal Night in the past, it was chosen again due to the limited number of event spaces that could accommodate the size of the senior class. “I think it went more smoothly than last year,” she added. While attendees largely expressed higher expectations for the food, the kitchen at Twin River was also better suited to satisfy a wider range of dietary restrictions than other venues.
After making a low estimate of spending $200 on the weekend, Michelle Fredericks ’20 wished she had spent less when she realized that she dropped closer to $370. She was able to borrow a dress from her sister for one night, but ended up spending $130 on a formal dress as the weekend grew closer. Fredericks also spent $80 on shoes, to which she made the same point as Eugene: “I’ll definitely wear them again!”
Living off campus, getting to and from the event was an important factor for Fredericks and her friends. When temperatures reached a low of 28 degrees on Friday night, Fredericks decided to chip in $3 for an Uber ride home from Peterson. On Saturday night, she was able to take the shuttle to Eaton Street from Twin River, which began running at 9:30 p.m.
Reflecting on the weekend, many felt that what they spent was worth it, regardless of whether they expected their final price tag or not. “I tend to want to get new things for events,”
Explained Fredericks, “I thought that borrowing a dress would cut costs down. I really didn’t need to buy new shoes for both nights.”
Ojuka felt that the cost of SRW may differ depending on what attendees choose to wear, making it more or less price prohibitive. “I had a specific style that I was going for, so I ended up spending more than I had to,” he explained. “I think the price of the ticket is expensive though, considering the first night is in Peterson.”
Some attendees who live on lower Eaton Street rented a tent to celebrate and take photos in for the duration of the weekend, which tacked on an additional cost. For those that chose to gamble at Twin River, the stakes were high, and many walked away with losses.
When asked about the best part of her weekend, Eugene revealed that it was bonding with her friends. “It’s like, getting ready, things go wrong, and you figure it out with your friends. Appointments were missed, hair didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, dresses came in late…but once someone has an idea and turns it around, it’s always a victory.”
Importance of Liberal Arts Education in Business: Arthur F. Ryan Addresses PC Community at Fiondella Lecture
by Catherine Brewer ’21
What does it take to be one of the youngest presidents of Chase Manhattan Bank and later the CEO of Prudential Insurance Company of America? For Arthur F. Ryan ’63, ’90Hon., & ’89P, it began with a mathematics degree from Providence College.
On Friday, October 4, Ryan delivered the annual Fiondella lecture in the Ryan Center for Business Studies, the building that was named in honor of his donation to the College.
In his Homecoming Weekend address, Ryan discussed how important his liberal arts education has been for him in the business world. Studying humanities taught Ryan what it means “to learn to learn,” which he describes as having the ability to open one’s mind to innovative ideas and to think critically. “It wasn’t only the ability to learn. It was the ability to take that learning and make it happen,” stated Ryan.
He explained that this skill was invaluable to him when he made his first career move after graduation: he joined the military, and after nine weeks in the infantry training school, Ryan was sent to the Army Security Agency where he had the unique opportunity of going to computer school in 1964.
Since computers were a new commodity, Ryan was promoted every three to six months because he had distinct knowledge of the job and ended up managing over 100 employees at only 26 years old. Despite graduating without a business degree, he credits his ability to creatively analyze and find solutions to his PC education.
Ryan went on to become one of the youngest presidents of Chase Manhattan Bank, as well as the first outsider to become the CEO of Prudential Insurance. In this role, he led the company to be publicly traded as Prudential Financial.
In the face of challenges when entering Prudential, Ryan discussed how important it was for him to think back to his humanities education and choose to “do the right thing.”
In a question-and-answer session, former trustee Elizabeth E. Flynn ’82 & ’17Hon. joined Ryan to discuss her experience as his “sponsor” in the business world. “We didn’t call it that back then, but it’s different than a mentor, and it’s far more rare and far more impactful,” said Flynn.
She also described how Ryan took a risk with her by placing her in leadership roles at a time when women were not typically given these opportunities. Flynn went on to become a senior-level executive with 30 years experience in banking, insurance, and risk management.
The Fiondella lecture was established by Robert W. Fiondella ’64, ’16Hon., & ’16GP and Carolyn Fiondella ’16GP. As generous supporters of the College, the Fiondellas have made important contributions to the Great Room in the Ruane Center for the Humanities and the Angel Fund, an emergency support grant that helps students stay in school despite sudden financial challenges.
Fiondella is an alumnus of both the political science and Liberal Arts Honors Programs. Seeing how impactful the humanities education at Providence College was on his life, the Fiondellas founded the Fiondella lecture series in 2017 to bring speakers to campus that demonstrate success in business with a liberal arts education.
They also established the Fiondella Student Academic Achievement Award, which recognizes a student with esteemed accomplishments in humanities and business studies.
This year’s award was given to Nicole Jozwik ’20. Jozwik is a student in the Liberal Arts Honors Program, an art history major, and double minor in Spanish and business innovation.
“I find that the liberal arts offer a fresh perspective to problem-solving in our modern global culture,” wrote Jozwik in a statement that was read by Father Brian J. Shanley, O.P., in his presentation of the award. “In my own study of the humanities, visual arts, and foreign languages, I am able to bring more creativity to the business world. I believe that the current time calls for an interdisciplinary generation to continue our advancement towards an imaginative, progressive future.”
Such advancement is a staple of the liberal arts education that PC aims to provide its students.
Honoring Those Lost on 9/11: PC Republicans Hold Flag Ceremony in Remembrance of 9/11
by Catherine Brewer ’20
As the sun began to burst through the clouds on Wednesday morning, Dean Toomey ’22 sat on a stone bench in front of the Arthur F. and Patricia Ryan Center for Business Studies and watched the line of students and faculty trickle down the path and off to their 8:30 a.m. classes.
Seeing the American flag raised over the lawn, many stopped to join the crowd. “I actually lost my aunt, who is my godmother, in 9/11,” said Toomey. “She was in the South Tower. So every year, I think it’s right for me to pay my respects for all the stuff that she has done for me and my family. And for all those first responders and those victims.”
To honor all who have been affected by the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, members of the Providence College community gathered at the annual memorial hosted by the Providence College Republicans.
“I believe that the 9/11 terror attacks are something that this country should never forget and will never forget,” said Krista Minniti ’20, the president of the student organization. “I know personally at PC there are many, many students, faculty, and staff that have all been affected by it, whether it’s family, friends, and just hearing stories of others. So I think it’s important to honor their memories and honor their lives with this every year.”
While the memorial has been installed differently in previous years, Minniti explained that her group decided to raise the American flag away from the ground this year in the interest of respect.
Andrew “Andy” J. Sullivan, the executive director of the Physical Plant, helped students secure the flag in place as he waited for the ceremony to begin. “Personally, 9/11 has a lot of special meaning. I was active duty navy at the time and it really changed the course of my life,” said Sullivan.
He explained that despite having planned to leave the navy, he chose to serve his country for another 20 years. “I think it’s important for us to continue to remember those events. Certainly, the freedoms that we have and appreciate everything that we have here in the world, and of course here on campus,” he added.
Members of the Providence Police Department were also invited to the memorial’s blessing, which was made by Father Alan Piper, O.P., at 8:45 a.m. Students and staff were encouraged to offer special intentions for friends and family members.
Toomey encouraged students to take more moments to remember and honor the victims of 9/11, whether that be through prayer, conversation, or simply reaching out to someone you know.
“In high school, on 9/11, we would always have a prayer to start class, and I always thought that it’s small things like that that go far, at least for me,” he explained. “I wish I saw that a little bit more with people here, just talking about their experience and how it has affected them, and the pros and cons of how everything is after that fatal day.”
Featured Friar: Steve Lawrence ’21: A Friar Who Is Not Afraid of Embracing His Talents
By Catherine Brewer ’20
For Steve Lawrence ’21, one of the most important questions in life that has fueled his passion to cultivate happiness and comfort for himself and others has been, “How do you expect for yourself to enjoy [life]when others can’t?”
Lawrence, who is a Brooklyn, New York native of Caribbean descent, is a first generation college student at Providence College.
He puts his studies first and is working towards majoring in global studies and political science, as well as a minor in Spanish.
However, his true self comes to life outside the classroom: Lawrence is an active member of the Board of Programmers (BOP), the secretary of Afro-American Society, a resident assistant in Aquinas Hall, a vocalist in Footprints Gospel Choir, and a performer in Motherland Dance Group.
Lawrence joined the latter two organizations during his freshman year after members of the clubs recognized his talent at orientation events and invited him to join.
Growing up, he always loved dancing and singing, but felt that these activities were frowned upon by his peers and church community because he was a boy.
“I was always dancing,” he recalls, adding that he loved the jazz and gospel music that his mother would play.
Suppressing his desire to dance and sing made him feel unhappy and insecure. Then he hit his breaking point. Lawrence realized, “I cannot just keep things to myself.”
Coming to PC, Lawrence wanted to challenge gender norms about singing and the notion that “men can’t dance.”
“Now I learned that if you want to dance, if you want to sing, don’t let people’s words stop you,” he explained.
Being a member of organizations centered on these passions has allowed Lawrence to learn more about himself and build stronger relationships. “It helped me to connect with people, and people were not usually connected to me,” said Lawrence.
While it may seem remarkable that Lawrence takes on so many roles in the PC community, it is of no surprise to him.
He explained that he felt he was too shy in elementary school, so he began joining clubs in the seventh grade and fell in love with being involved. Lawrence flourished as a community organizer in high school, to which he said, “my hands are always in.”
One of Lawrence’s goals at PC is to bridge gaps in polarization and build relationships between people. “What I personally believe is that even if someone is different from you, they’re still human,” he stated.
Lawrence is passionate about showing respect for others, and feels that if one is to receive it, then one must also give it.
In the long term, he hopes to attend law school with the intention of helping companies and organizations understand the law, especially how it can benefit themselves and other people.
Lawrence also wants to use the law in a “holistic” sense to protect humans, wildlife, and the environment. His overarching, big picture desire? To help the world live in harmony.
PC Community Dedicates Month of October to Mental Health Awareness: A Perspective on Black Mental Health and PC’s Newest Initiative
by Catherine Brewer ’20
When it comes to mental health, Phillip J. Roundtree thinks that you can have Jesus and a therapist.
At the event “Black Mental Health Matters,” Roundtree discussed the complexities of mental health with a focus on access to healthcare for people of color, but also across racial and ethnic lines.
The event, which is part of Providence College’s larger Mental Health Awareness Month, was held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 24. It was hosted by Active Minds, BMSA, PC Life-Lines Grant, Office of Institutional Diversity, and The Center at Moore Hall.
Roundtree is a master’s level clinician and performance enhancement specialist who specializes in behavioral health and child welfare. He is also the founder of Quadefy LLC, an organization that is dedicated to promoting mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness.
Standing in front of a crowd in Moore Hall, Roundtree donned a T-shirt bearing the words “Black Healing Matters!”
Despite the gleaming smile that stretches across his face, Roundtree lives with anxiety and depression, and was suicidal for 15 years.
His goal was to create a safe, reflective space to discuss mental health, especially the disparities in access to resources for minority groups. He actively advocates for the marginalized and underrepresented.
Roundtree’s goal was to engage the audience in a discussion around mental health that could potentially eradicate the stigma surrounding it. He also wanted to help students recognize that there are benefits in seeking counseling or therapy.
“When we think about mental health in America, we don’t think about black people,” Roundtree explained.
He began by providing the audience with a personal backstory, detailing how he came to be a speaker on mental health.
Growing up, Roundtree observed what he described as “black boy rage:” young men expressing their emotions by means of what society perceives as “acting out,” which is the result of a combination of trauma, a lack of access to counseling and therapy, and suppression of pent up anger, confusion, and sadness.
Trauma is unique to every individual; in Roundtree’s case, he experienced the death of his brother while he was in high school, as well as his mother’s nervous breakdown one morning. “I was still expected to go to school that day, I was still expected to perform,” Roundtree stated.
Roundtree has also experienced the trauma of racial discrimination in America.
When police commit acts of racial bias and brutality, the black community is left to deal with the trauma and fear that these bring.
News outlets and social media also perpetuate a destructive narrative of people of color, which is harmful on an individual and collective level.
Roundtree described the racial bias that he has encountered with police, which has caused him to feel anxiety and fear towards law enforcement. It is a constant reminder of pain.
Nevertheless, there is still pressure within the black community to push through trauma, as slaves, those living in the Jim Crow era, and Civil Rights movement activists have done before them.
“We have to push on, our ancestors pushed on…but this can be detrimental,” Roundtree explained.
This narrative fits into one of the barriers to treatment that Roundtree discussed: the perception of mental health.
He explained that while many people have internalized the idea that receiving treatment for mental health makes one “crazy,” that everyone can and should have access to a therapist.
He provided information about resources on campus and in Providence, including the Personal Counseling Center in lower Bedford Hall.
Roundtree also noted that a lack of familiarity with the process of getting treatment is a hindrance. If people do not know the resources that are available, or have never talked to a counselor, the steps to receiving care can be daunting.
These barriers affect individuals across racial and ethnic lines. For the black community in particular, Afro-centric cultural values, spiritual beliefs, and historical medical mistrust, as evidenced by the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, are added to the list.
Roundtree urged the audience to shift the narrative on mental health by referring to mental illness as “living with mental wellness issues.”
He feels that this term sheds a more positive light on receiving care, and also acknowledges that someone can be a son, daughter, student, or athlete while still working on personal happiness and quality of life.
He encouraged the PC community to learn healthy coping strategies, including exercising for fun, controlled breathing, journaling, limiting cell phone use, and engaging with nature.
For white students who want to be allies to the black community, Roundtree acknowledged that it is important for allies to speak up for marginalized groups, even in all-white settings.
“I plant a seed. For some people, it might of clicked right there,” Roundtree explained, “For others, in ten years from now, they might not remember my name, but they will remember that they learned something about mental health.”
While he concedes that talking about mental health and allyship can make people uncomfortable, embracing this feeling is how individuals can create real change in their communities.
On the evening before the Black Mental Health Matters event, Roundtree also spoke to the student athletes of the College.
While Mental Health Awareness Month only lasts for the duration of October, there is a greater movement on campus to raise consciousness about the importance of mental health coined, “You’re Never Alone in Friartown.”
John Rock, the senior associate athletic director for sports medicine, is one of the founders of this campaign, which began in the fall of 2017.
After attending the first Big East Mental Health Summit at Georgetown University in June of 2017, Rock and other PC staff members wanted to bring the awareness that they had gained to their own community to create positive change.
“The mission is to create more awareness around mental health issues with our student-athletes,” said Rock. “[Our] primary hope is to increase awareness and destigmatize mental health issues.”
Spreading the slogan “It is okay to not be okay,” Rock wants student athletes to feel comfortable talking with others about their mental health or any struggles that they are facing.
This October, he spoke with the PC faculty and staff to encourage them to be additional resources for students. The college community has picked up on the slogan, and now the movement has spread to encompass the mental health of all students, faculty, and staff.
“The mental health stigma is predominant among student-athletes and I want that to change,” Rock explained, adding that he is motivated to continue the campaign out of his care for the health and welfare of PC student-athletes.
He looks forward to the next event, “We Are All A Little Crazy,” which will take place in February 2019.
Rock also is continuing to work with the Personal Counseling Center with the hopes of adding a clinical sports psychologist to the staff for roughly three days per week.
As the month comes to a close, more changes are still to come for the PC community, and sustained mental health awareness comes without an expiration date.
Sociology Students “Spill the Tea”
by Catherine Brewer ’20
It all started with a tweet.
Over the past six months, four sociology majors at Providence College have grown a simple idea into a flourishing podcast. Streaming on SoundCloud, Spotify, and iTunes, SocioloTEA has nearly 100 listeners and is steeped with discussions of politics and popular culture through a sociological lens and is filled with pungent humor.
The founders of SocioloTEA are Monét Eugene ’20, Francisco Vera Nicola ’20, Sean Richardson ’20, and Gisell Rodriguez ’20.
The four had been friends and connected through sociology and extracurricular activities prior to starting the podcast. Most importantly, they all shared an appreciation for podcasts and were frequent listeners.
In April 2018, Vera Nicola tweeted to see if anyone would want to start a podcast, not expecting it to be taken too seriously. Richardson saw the message and was immediately interested, so he responded, suggesting that they should arrange a meeting to begin organizing the show.
Eugene, who was sitting next to Rodriguez at the time, also saw the tweet and was very excited about the idea. “Podcasts were getting really popular,” explained Eugene, adding that she and Richardson both loved to listen to them when they had more time during school breaks.
The first podcast was released that same month on SoundCloud, and it included a discussion that lasted just over an hour. The topics discussed were Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy and the politics of language in popular music.
Since then, SocioloTEA has covered a variety of controversial music artists, most notably Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande, American politics, national current events, social justice issues, and the role of social media in the members’ lives today.
While Rodriguez and Vera Nicola often talk more about politics in the podcasts, Eugene and Richardson love to discuss music and popular culture. The common thread that runs throughout the project is their passion for equality and, as the group describes it, desire to “deconstruct the patriarchy.”
In preparation for their now-weekly podcasts, the group suggests topics that are prevalent or interesting to each other, followed by background research. They try to keep it light so that the research is not overly extensive.
Straying away from talking about their personal lives and campus culture is also a common goal in hopes of staying as professional as possible.
SocioloTEA is not a school-sanctioned club, so the friends operate on their own time and do not have a designated space for recording. They find it somewhat difficult to find room in their busy schedules for meetings, and they had to take a break over the summer months.
The spring semester presents more challenges since Eugene will be studying abroad, but SocioloTEA is determined to continue their work and may offer more guest features to fill the gaps.
Since they wanted to come up with a name that was catchy and encompassed who they were as a group, the brainstorming and decision process was complicated. “Even though sociology is a part of the name, it’s not exactly what it’s about,” Rodriguez added. The “TEA” refers to revealing juicy information or offering new interpretations of their discussion topics—what Richardson calls “spilling the tea.”
As SocioloTEA has continued to develop, the podcasts have fluctuated in length, but they have the most listeners when they are in the 30 to 45-minute range. “People don’t like to listen an hour plus,” noted Vera Nicola.
They also began using Buzzsprout to automatically share their episodes with Spotify and iTunes.
Another recent addition was the introductory music, which was added by Richardson.
In the past, the group has featured various students as guests, and they hope to continue to do so under one condition, “We want people who want to talk, and we don’t want ‘yes men.’ It’s okay to disagree with us!” said Eugene.
They have also begun selling stickers of the logo that Rodriguez developed on RedBubble.
“I think doing this brought us closer together,” explained Richardson. “We all operate in different pockets, so we have different perspectives of campus, and that shapes what we bring to the table.”
With SocioloTEA’s second season underway, regular listeners and new fans can expect heated debates, fierce opinions, and contagious laughter.
The Vatican Addresses Recent Allegations of Abuse in the Catholic Chruch
By Catherine Brewer ’20
In the unfolding investigation of the most recent scandal in the Catholic Church, a letter suggests that knowledge of the corruption had been intentionally hidden by a small number of church officials, including the pope. The 11-page document, written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, was published on Sunday, August 26 and claims that Pope Francis had worked with other Vatican officials for almost 20 years to cover up the sexual misconduct allegations against Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington. Meanwhile, Pope Francis visited Ireland, where the Church has struggled to maintain authority in the midst of the allegations.
Viganò claims in the letter that in 2013, he informed Francis that the preceding pope, Benedict XVI, had ordered for McCarrick “to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.” Rather than taking a more severe action against McCarrick to respond to the allegations, Viganò explains that Francis let McCarrick select bishops in the United States.
Since McCarrick was forced to resign in July due to sexual abuse allegations regarding a teenage altar boy, Viganò believes that the pope must do the same. Until his removal by Francis in 2016, Viganò was the Vatican envoy to the U.S.
Viganò also cites a letter by Rev. James Boniface Ramsey, a Reverend in New York, that was sent to the Vatican during the time of John Paul II. Ramsey’s letter was aimed at informing church officials of allegations against McCarrick at Seton Hall University’s Immaculate Conception Seminary in New Jersey, which claimed that he had engaged in sexual misconduct with seminarians.
The letter also attempts to point out a cause for the sexual abuse scandals within the Catholic Church, as Viganò argues that they are the result of gay priests and that their struggles with being homosexual in the Church have been the root cause of corruption. He mentions a number of church leaders by name in order to accuse them of covering up abuse and misconduct, as well as assert that they are gay.
Francis embarked on a visit to Ireland in hopes of gaining papal authority in the midst of sexual abuse scandals, as the rising number of cases has led many Irish people to turn away from the Church. When interviewed about Viganò’s letter on the plane ride back to Rome, Francis avoided answering questions. “I will not say a single word on this,” Francis stated. “I believe the statement speaks for itself. And you have the sufficient journalistic ability to make your conclusions. It’s an act of trust.”
While Viganò said that he would go into hiding for his safety after his letter was published, he continued to be in contact with media outlets. On the evening of Friday, August 31, Life Site News published another letter by Viganò in which he recounts the events that preceded Francis’s 2015 encounter with Kim Davis, a Kentucky clerk who refused to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Viganò claims that the controversial meeting was planned, rather than accidental, as the pope has maintained.
Prior to Viganò’s letters, Acting President Father Kenneth Sicard, O.P., addressed the Providence College community via email on Thursday, August 23 in regard to the growing news of church scandals. “There is anger, pain, and a deep sense of betrayal among the faithful and the clergy alike,” Sicard stated. “Here on campus, there are many whose anger leads them to question what it means to be associated with an institution that so proudly identifies itself as Catholic and Dominican during this time of darkness.”
With the return of students for the new school year, Sicard called for the entire PC community to unite in healing and rebuilding. He also stated that the College pledges to care for victims of sexual abuse of any measure. “Together, let us pray for courage, guidance, and God’s grace to address problems in the coming weeks and months that feel insurmountable,” concluded Sicard. “Then and only then can real reform and renewal happen.”
U.S. Has Tumultuous Summer for Immigration
by Catherine Brewer ’20
News of family separations and detention center conditions swept the country during the summer of 2018. Mainstream broadcasting and social media platforms such as Facebook helped make breaking information available to individuals internationally.
With August coming to a close, the unrest continues. The Trump administration made headlines on April 6, 2018 when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the federal government would be implementing a “zero tolerance” policy for immigrants entering the U.S. at the southwestern border. Sessions also called on federal prosecutors to make undocumented immigration a top priority and utilize “the full prosecutorial powers of the Department of Justice,” which would mean criminal prosecution of immigrants. This strays from the typical treatment of immigration policy violations, which are considered misdemeanors.
Criminal prosecution of immigrants was accompanied by family separations at the border due to the federal policy that parents and children cannot reside in federal jail together. While parents were sent to be prosecuted, children were separated by age group and sent to facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and recategorized as “unaccompanied minors.” Those under age 13 were placed in “tender age” shelters, with many children being under age 5.
In the weeks that followed, political and public uproar pushed back against family separation. All four living former first ladies openly criticized the policy, while Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen firmly defended the administration, stating that it would not apologize for the implications of its policy. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and HHS both released photos of the tender age shelters, and much of the media and public was infuriated to see what was considered “children behind bars.”
On June 18, ProPublica released an eight-minute audio recording of children between the ages of 4 and 10 that was obtained inside a CBP facility. At one point, the recording features a federal agent commenting that the crying sounds “like an orchestra.”
On June 20, President Trump signed an executive order calling for the end of family separations. The order was drafted by Nielsen and specifically calls for keeping families together once they are detained for crossing the border without documentation. CBP reported that over 2,300 children had been separated from their families since May.
Two days later, Trump was joined by over a dozen parents of children who lost their lives to individuals who entered the U.S. without documentation. Trump stated, “these are the families the media ignores…These are the stories that Democrats and people that are weak on immigration, they don’t want to discuss, they don’t want to hear, they don’t want to see, they don’t want to talk about.” However, multiple studies refute the idea that undocumented immigrants pose high criminal threat to the nation
The tension between the two beliefs has escalated in recent days with the death of Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old University of Iowa student who was last seen on a run near her home in Brooklyn, Iowa and was later found dead in a cornfield on August 21. Police reported that 24-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera, an undocumented immigrant from Geurrero, Mexico, confessed to the murder, and a spokesperson for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stated that Rivera did not have legal status in the country.
Last Thursday, the Business Roundtable addressed Nielsen in a letter that explained their concerns regarding changes in immigration policy by the Trump administration.
The Roundtable is a group of top CEOs that endorse policies that they believe will stimulate economic growth. It includes the heads of Apple, AT&T, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, IBM, JP Morgan, and Pepsi.
Their primary issues are with changes to the rules and processes for H-1B visas for skilled workers and their spouses, as well as with deportation. They feel that new policies will discourage current and potential employees, and the Labor Department has shown that there are “no qualified U.S. workers are available to do that person’s job.”
Making the Move: “Hybrid Housing”
by Catherine Brewer ’20
With a freshman class of 1,127 students entering Providence College, the Office of Residence Life has expanded housing options this year with a Hybrid Housing program. The program allows select students who originally planned to live on campus to select new housing off campus through the 02908 Club, but still pay the College for housing. According to Jana Valentine, director of Residence Life, there are 75 students participating in the program.
“This housing option was developed as a result of the larger-than-expected yield of the incoming class,” said Valentine. She explained that the houses that were made available by the 02908 Club are in “close proximity” to campus. Of the program participants, most of them are in the class of 2019, and there are “a few” from the class of 2020. The same pricing was offered to all students.
Camille Greaney ’19 is living with seven of her friends, in an eight-person apartment. However, originally, the group was housed in two separate four-person apartments in Davis Hall; and this plan was organized last spring at the general housing selection through Residence Life.
Greaney explained that as the school year came to a close in May, she completed a housing survey issued by Residence Life. At the end of the survey, there was a question asking whether Greaney would be interested in off-campus housing if it were available.
“Over the summer, a survey was sent to seniors who had chosen to live on campus,” explained Valentine. “We wanted to understand the reasons seniors were choosing to stay on campus. The results of the survey enabled us to understand that we have a population of seniors who selected to live on, but would welcome the opportunity to live off campus.”
On July 7, Kevin Hillery, associate director of Residence Life, contacted Greaney via cell phone to ask her if she would be interested in living in off-campus housing for the 2018-2019 year.
The deal would include an off-campus house of their choice from the remaining available options for the price of living in a four-person suite, the reimbursement of the College’s laundry and parking fees, free utilities for the full year, a furnished living room by the 02908 Club, additional furnishings courtesy of the College upon request, and a free 75-block meal plan for on-campus dining for the fall semester.
“We had to act really, really quickly,” said Greaney of the decision-making process. That night, Greaney and her friends all completed the necessary forms, including signed permission from their parents to move off-campus. Once they were processed, the house hunting began. Valentine explained that students were invited to tour potential options in July and August.
Greaney described the house she chose as a “new piece of property” since they were to be welcomed with renovations upon arrival in August, included an updated kitchen and bathroom. While the group was excited and happily agreed to live there, they were also confused and disappointed with several aspects of the program and their new home. “It was a work in progress when we moved in on Saturday,” Greaney said. The home did not have hot water connected when they arrived, but they were able to have access to it later in the day. The group also struggled with communication between the College and the landlord.
“It felt like they kind of threw out promises at the beginning,” explained Greaney. While she feels that most of these promises have now been fulfilled, the group found it difficult to find out what was really going on with their new home over the summer. Communication was inconsistent between the College, the landlord, and the group, as individuals or the whole group would be contacted without explanation. Greaney felt that Hillery was always quick to respond, but that they were never provided with much information.
Karalyn Rennie ’19 was offered to participate in the program, but she and her friends decided to stay on campus for several reasons. “We were tempted to go with the hybrid housing because of the savings and the benefits of off campus life,” she explained. “However, in the end, we didn’t really find a house that allowed the six people in our apartment to live together and not have random roommates.”
Rennie added that she did not want to lose the convenience of being close to all that campus has to offer. “The options that Residence Life had left when we were seriously looking were too far for our group or in an area we didn’t know that well,” she said.
“Overall, the house is nice,” Greaney said. “Of course, there are little things that could be better. But overall, we like it.” As for the free fall semester meal plan, Greaney felt uncertain about how she and her friends will utilize it. “I do think it will be helpful when we are on campus,” she explained, adding that she prefers to return home during the day to cook her meals.
While this year is the first for Hybrid Housing, it may not be around for long. “The program will continue for another year while we evaluate occupancy in relation to class size and growing enrollment,” said Valentine.
Student-Faculty Group Hosts Teach-In on Inclusion
Community Gathers to Make Change on Campus and Beyond
by Catherine Brewer ’20
Standing before members of the greater Providence community who huddled in Moore Hall on Monday evening, Chandelle Wilson’s words displayed their power by provoking a wave of silence: “It’s time that we consider what ‘inclusive’ means in the Center for Inclusion and Excellence.” Wilson, program coordinator of public & community service studies, served as one of the primary facilitators of the “Is PC Inclusive?” teach-in held on April 23, 2018, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The event featured a variety of speakers, who each focused on inclusivity through a different lens, strategies to make sure that all voices were heard, dancing, and plenty of pizza.
The newly established Coalition Against Racism and Concerned Students worked to plan the teach-in with weekly meetings and a great deal of behind-the-scenes coordinating efforts. Christina Roca ’21, a member of the Coalition who helped provide a first-year perspective throughout the planning process, expressed that she wanted to get involved after seeing how communities were marginalized on campus. “I think that in order for any progress to be made, conversations need to occur, especially those that are avoided,” Roca explained. “Many topics surrounding inclusion are not really handled from my perspective from what I’ve seen in my first year here.”
The evening began with opening remarks from Coalition members Junielly Vargas ’21 and professor of sociology, Dr. Eric Hirsch. When it was Wilson’s turn to speak, she began by explaining the large pieces of paper posted around the room, referring to them as “action-step parking lots.” At any time, teach-in participants could write suggestions for how to make PC a more inclusive campus on the sheets. There were also notecards on each table for participants to leave anonymous questions that Dr. Zophia Edwards, assistant professor of sociology and one of the moderators at the teach-in, would read to whomever was presenting at the time.
“My being here is a political act,” stated Wilson as she launched into “Experiences of Professional Women of Color in the Academy,” a presentation of her research and personal observations. Wilson’s findings show overwhelmingly that “being a woman of color is the hardest place to start,” especially due to the lack of institutionalized resources and support systems for individuals throughout their academic career. This rings particularly true for female teachers of color, like Wilson. Her research showed that of the women who responded they had support, 100 percent of it was through informal groups.
Sasha Doering, a teacher at Moses Brown School in Providence who openly identifies as queer and transgender, presented “Supporting LGBTQ+ Students & Faculty of Color.” Doering’s three major points in discussing inclusion were self-care, community care, and allyship. While many tend to consider self-care as just “manicures and bath bombs,” Doering challenged this idea by reframing the practice as giving oneself the space to acknowledge one’s experiences with compassion. Doering extended understanding of self-care to community care, encouraging the creation and fostering of “affinity” or “safe” spaces where institutionalized support services are lacking.
Doering explained further that allyship is one of the ways that communities can grow. They suggested that allyship can be shown through participation in the National Day of Silence this Friday and through creating a heightened awareness of gender pronouns. As someone who goes by they/them/theirs, Doering argued that providing one’s own pronound in email signatures and in conversation can help to normalize the concept that everyone has pronoun that they prefer to go by, even if they are not immediately apparent, given their appearance.
Another feature of the teach-in was a panel of high school students from Youth in Action Rhode Island, who shared their experiences as women of color growing up in the Providence school system. Ashley Gomez, a senior at Lincoln School, expressed that she constantly grapples with the feeling of “not existing in the same universe” as her white peers. In her education, Gomez also faces a lack of representation as a woman of color, explaining how her “World History” class quickly became “European History.” Latifat Odetunde, a senior at Classical High School, added that this lack of representation made her and many others feel a sense of self-hatred, especially when she had to study slavery in overwhelmingly white classrooms. Odetunde asserted that being the only person of color in these settings makes her feel the need to be quiet, since anything that she says could be perceived as representing a larger demographic.
“I thought it was an honest approach to something that people are hesitant to talk about, especially on the campus,” said Gabrielle Amorelli ’20, an attendee of the teach-in. “It was necessary for all students and faculty to hear, regardless of their major, because it made me be more aware of my experience in the school systems and the impact it had on me.”