Student Congress Update
On March 28, Student Congress was happy to hear from Dean Tiffany Gaffney, the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs and Associate Dean of Students. She shared her passion for Providence College’s mission and described it as an imperfect place with a lot of potential and a motivated community that is driven to make the school better. Dean Gaffney, who is also the director of Community Standards and supervisor of the Title IX coordinator, primarily works with students in distress by supporting families and students. Gaffney is also a co-chair for the Campus Assessment, Response, and Evaluation Team, the College’s behavioral intervention team. Their responsibilities include behavioral intervention, case management, and violence risk assessment.
Behavioral intervention is a place where students, faculty, or staff worried about another member of the Providence community can report specific behaviors or safety concerns. The CARE Team contacts students to connect them with the appropriate support. Case management provides ongoing needs and constant support during long-term, difficult situations. Violence risk assessments are an essential part of the CARE Team, as they are tasked with the responsibility to recognize and respond prior to providing treatment resources. The team also participates in intensive training over the summer on how to de-escalate violence and recognize potential signs of violence.
The CARE Team represents people from all areas of the campus community. Offices include the Dean of Students, the Personal Counseling Center, the Student Success Center, Residence Life, Community Standards, Chaplain, Sports Medicine, Health Center, and Public Safety.
To contact the CARE Team, students can look them up or scan the QR Code on the list of resources behind bathroom stalls under the “Need Help but Don’t Know Where to Go” or “Mental Health” headings. Congress is grateful to have had Dean Gaffney come speak with us.
Dr. Illuzzi, the Development of Western Civilization program director and history professor, attended the following week. She shared the results of a survey which asked students their thoughts about the DWC program. Some of the positive feedback was that it created well rounded students, had lots of breadth, and improved critical thinking (50.31 percent improved), reading (58.49 percent improved) and writing (66.67 percent improved). The areas for improvement noted by the survey results include the heavy workload, a lack of consistency between sections, lack of diverse content, lack of purpose, and overwhelming lectures.
She discussed the plans for the program when moving forward. There will be a Trivium which focuses on grammar, logic, rhetoric, and conversations. She hinted at potential student focus groups coming this fall. She said that student support and activism for the DWC program are always encouraged and allows for creative ways to make the program better.
Dr. Illuzi then graciously responded to questions from the members of Student Congress. One member asked: Is there a plan to review the core curriculum and then restructure the program to fulfill the core proficiencies within the DWC program? Dr. Illuzi responded that the conversation about incorporating writing proficiencies within Civ has occurred, but writing professors are against this, particularly because Civ is not a writing course and professors that teach it are not focusing on helping students write well. If we restructured the curriculum to teach about grammar and logic, it would change the type of assignments students do in the Civ program.
Another member asked: Is the goal with the Trivium to have it occur during all semesters of Civ? The answer was yes, and there should be development along the college process, specifically targeted toward students’ developing capabilities.
The next question asked was whether a name change is still being considered. Dr. Illuzi’s personal dream is for a name change. There is a lot of resistance from the administration that believe an important tradition lies within the name. However, she suggested that changing the name means embracing tradition in a different way.
A member then asked: How can students help express support for the diversification of authors within the Civ program? Dr. Illuzzi suggested petitions and making your voices heard so that the professors are aware that the students want this change and feel strongly about it.
The next member asked: How would the wants of students and the wants of tenured faculty who get to structure the program work together to create a curriculum? She stressed that academic freedom and teaching material that engages students are not mutually exclusive.. It is difficult to change Civ, which is why it has not been altered since 2010. Another member asked: What is the process for a new colloquium to be developed? Any faculty from any department can propose a colloquium.
One member asked: What consistencies exist across sections? The program objectives are what keep the course consistent, but that is all. They are broad and vague: special attention to Catholicism, discussion of underrepresented groups, use of the library once, writing a certain number of words, and covering a certain amount of history, philosophy, theology, and English.
Over the last month, a significant amount of legislation has been passed, and a new Student Congress executive board has been elected. Student Congress recently rewrote the preamble to their constitution, made recommendations regarding safety concerns, and assessed club/organization budgets. Student Congress also recently hosted the Spring into Friartown event.
The new executive board consists of executive president Bryan McGinn, vice president Julia Rossi, treasurer Caitlin Ariel, and secretary Justice A’vant. Applications for the 74th Student Congress are open and elections are underway.
by Margaret Mahoney ’21
Student Congress Representative
Student Congress welcomed Father Kenneth Sicard, O.P., president of Providence College, to our weekly meeting on Feb. 9. After giving an overview of his current priorities as president, Fr. Sicard answered questions from members of the Student Congress.
When asked about his priorities for the spring semester, Fr. Sicard said he is focused on handling COVID-19-related challenges and diversity initiatives. Fr. Sicard stated that the College is continually working to keep students safe and to make experiences in isolation and quarantine as comfortable as possible. He also said that PC will be directing more funding towards diversity initiatives and will be conducting a cluster hire in the Black studies department.
When asked about the mental health of students in isolation and quarantine, Fr. Sicard said that there will be counselors available to them. Furthermore, he said that the College is working to make quarantine comfortable by providing Dunkin’ Donuts and specialty meals to the students.
He also discussed his “Friarside Chats” program, wherein students have the opportunity to speak with him in person about their experiences at PC. At recent Friarside Chats, topics such as COVID-19 protocols; diversity, equity, and inclusion questions; mental health concerns; and commencement in the spring have come up in conversation. Fr. Sicard encourages students to attend these conversations in the upcoming semester.
Thank you Fr. Sicard for taking the time to attend our meeting and speak with us.
Featured Friar: Malik Washington ’21
by Sydney Olinger ’23
As senior class president, Malik Washington ’21 is truly following his dream to be a voice for the Providence College and greater Providence communities. Beyond this, what is most important to Washington are the opportunities and achievements he has had as a first-generation college student.
Originally from Washington, D.C.,Washington states that he immediately fell in love with PC after attending the “Night in Friartown” event while he was in high school. Father Jordan Kelly, O.P., a resident priest and director of campus ministry at Archbishop Carroll High School, was another inspiration in Washington’s decision to join the Friar Family. If not for Kelly, Washington would have most likely attended a local college near his home. “For my entire life, all I came to know was D.C.,” he explained. “[Fr. Kelly] worked in peer ministry and encouraged me to look beyond the city. When college admissions rolled around, he helped me throughout the entire process.”
Washington is a political science and history double major at PC. He is grateful to the PC community for helping him to come out of his shell and for providing him with the opportunity to become a leader.
Given that he is not from New England, where most of PC’s student body is from, Washington admits that it was difficult for him to adjust to college life at first. However, he is grateful to the Faithworks pre-orientation program and the Horizons retreat for making the transition easier and quite the memorable experience.
Serving as the president of the Pre-Law Society also allows Washington to pursue his passion for legislation and to showcase his natural leadership abilities. One of Washington’s proudest accomplishments at PC, though, was when his peers elected him to serve as their class president. He credits the PC class of 2021 as the reason for making his college experience unforgettable with their endless support and friendship over the past four years. He is appreciative of the encouragement from his class, but he is especially grateful for his friend and personal campaign manager, Matthew Reardon ’21. Reardon worked with Washington to develop campaign videos during the election which were, evidently, successful.
“Entering college, I did not envision such an opportunity for myself as I was just focused on making it to graduation—the most important thing for my family,” stated Washington.
Now, as president of the class of 2021, Washington’s primary focus has been ensuring that he and his classmates are able to enjoy their final year together safely. In the fall, Washington was able to work with other members of Student Congress to coordinate a senior class toast via Zoom. Seniors who registered for the event received personalized class of 2021 glasses and heard a personal speech from men’s basketball coach Ed Cooley and College president, Father Kenneth Sicard, O.P.
In addition to recommending speakers and introducing possible proposals for a COVID-19-safe commencement ceremony, Washington has also spent much of this academic year brainstorming senior activities for the end of the spring semester. “We are currently planning events to make up for our school traditions that we could not partake in due to COVID-19,” he shared. “I am working closely with the administration to hopefully have some form of senior week.”
Following graduation in May, Washington plans to attend law school. He ultimately hopes to find success in his career in order to inspire children in his community back home to follow in his footsteps, in a way, and to pursue their own dreams, despite being a first-generation college student.
“As a first-generation college student, a degree is an opportunity to not recognize my work but my family’s sacrifices for me to get where I am,” said Washington.
As was the case for many generations of PC students before him, Washington states that 1 Cunningham Square will forever be his second home, and that the Friar Family will forever be his second family.
by Margaret Mahoney ’21
Student Congress Representative
John Sweeney, chief financial officer of Providence College, came to the Student Congress meeting on Feb. 2. Sweeney provided an overview of COVID-19’s impact on PC’s expenses and revenue, stating that PC has spent $12 million on COVID-19 testing, quarantine protocol, meals, staff, technology, physical changes, and cleaning. After giving an overview of the College’s financial outlook, Sweeney also answered a series of questions from Student Congress members.
When asked about the College’s financial health in light of COVID-19-related expenses, Sweeney said that the College has made cuts to expenses and that PC is investing in energy efficiency, which will save the College money in the future. Sweeney also remarked on the success of the free textbook program that began this fall and said the program has become a model for other schools.
When asked about financial aid, Sweeney answered that PC increased financial aid by about $9 million this year and that the College currently meets about 89% of demonstrated need. Sweeney also addressed the security challenges of student organizations using electronic payment platforms like Venmo, but he said that they are looking for a way to accommodate electronic payments.
When asked about upcoming projects, Sweeney said he anticipates that the Ruane Friar Development Center project will begin in May 2022. Sweeney also said that COVID-19-related expenses vary significantly between institutions depending on the aggressiveness of the program. COVID-19 prevention requires more ventilation, heating, and cooling, but associated costs with such increases are necessary for the safety of everyone at PC. Looking into the future, Sweeney anticipates that in three years, 80% of PC’s energy usage will be offset by solar power.
Student Congress thanks John Sweeney for coming to their meeting and for all he does for PC students. Following Sweeney’s presentation, the Fashion Society presented to Student Congress and were approved as an official club by Student Congress.
For students interested in joining Student Congress, they will be in attendance at the Involvement Fair on Wednesday, Feb. 17 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. in the upper Slavin lobby.
Letter from the 71st Student Congress
by Student Congress Executive Board
During these difficult times, we find ourselves needing the Friar Family more than ever. The unwavering efforts and presence of every single Providence College administrator is apparent everyday on and off campus.
Administrators have been working around-the-clock with the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) to support families and students in any way they can during these times. They have been tirelessly working to deliver food to both on and off-campus students, to provide support through counseling and public health resources, to communicate updated plans, and above all, to keep Providence College open and safe for all to enjoy.
On behalf of students, we want to formally thank all staff and administration who have sacrificed time and energy to support PC and its community. The Friar Family continues to stand strong.
by Thomas Beaton ’22
Student Congress Publicity
On Tuesday, September 10, Student Congress welcomed Greg Waldron, senior vice president for institutional advancement.
Institutional advancement encompasses many offices ,including but not limited to, alumni relations, major gifts, and college events.
Members of the congress raised concerns about Homecoming, a new event that includes Late Night Madness and other on-campus events during the weekend of Oct. 4-6. Waldron mentioned that students were involved in the planning process, and that the goal of moving Late Night Madness to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was to make the event more inclusive to students, friends and families.
On Tuesday, September 19, Student Congress welcomed Bob Driscoll, vice president and director of athletics.
Driscoll discussed that each year student-athletes undergo sexual assault awareness programs. He also hopes to begin a new program open to student-athletes for mental health beyond that which is offered at the Personal Counseling Center. If proven successful, he hopes to expand the program campus-wide.
With discussion surrounding student-athletes being paid on college campuses across the country, Driscoll expressed no interest in paying student-athletes.
One congress member asked if there are any plans to open the Friar Development Center to the entire student body. Driscoll said that the Friar Development Center was not funded by the College but from private donors, and the facilities will, thereforebe reserved for student-athletes only. Despite this, other athletic facilities, such as Glay Field and Hendricken Field, are open to all students.
Student Congress meets every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in Ruane LL05 and is open to everyone.
By Margaret Mahoney ’21
Student Congress Publicity
On Tuesday, April 2, Student Congress welcomed Sara Eckhoff, from Day One Rhode Island.
Eckhoff is the Victim Advocacy, Support, and Education Coordinator for Providence College. She is a confidential resource for students and faculty, and she is available to meet with any member of the campus community to answer questions, offer support, provide resources, and assist individuals after an incident.
Eckhoff informed Student Congress that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and that there will be several events on campus throughout the month to raise awareness.
Furthermore, Eckhoff reiterated the importance of cultivating a culture at PC where sexual violence will not be tolerated at any level.
Following Eckhoff’s presentation, members of Congress voted to approve a Statement of Position supporting the “Introduction to Providence College” one credit course.
Student Congress also voted to eliminate the core focus requirement starting for the Class of 2023.
Margaret Mahoney ’21
Student Congress Publicity
On Tuesday, March 19, 2019, the 69th Student Congress hosted Peter Palumbo, director of academic advising, who presented on updates to the current academic advising program. Palumbo said his department has been working on streamlining the degree audit format and have been implementing additional faculty development programs. Palumbo then fielded student questions and feedback about the advising process.
Following Mr. Palumbo’s presentation, representatives from the Student Advisory Board on Mental Health presented on their organization’s role on campus. This club serves as a liaison between the student body and the mental health resources on campus. The advisory board has participated in Fresh Check day, worked Inside Out week, and hosted a forum about mental health. Additionally, the representatives highlighted their upcoming events such as, “A Chance for Change: How to get involved so you can make a difference” on March 26.
Following the guest speakers, Student Congress voted to approve “Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS): Diversity in STEM” as an official club under Student Congress.
Margaret Mahoney ’21
Student Congress Publicity
Chuck Haberle, assistant vice president for Academic Facilities and Technology Planning, presented the calendars for the 2020-2021 and 2021- 2022 academic years to congress.
Haberle discussed the benefits and drawbacks that accompany starting after Labor Day, in contrast to the past several academic years, which have started before Labor Day.
In planning the schedule, Haberle stated that the College needs to have 15 weeks of academic instruction per semester. PC currently has 14 weeks of classes and a week of exams every semester.
Mr. Haberle discussed student interest in a longer Columbus Day break, which could be especially beneficial for freshmen, who are still adjusting to college life.
Following this presentation, the executive board of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SANCAS) presented to congress. SANCAS is a national organization that works to foster the success of underrepresented groups in STEM. This club would be a PC chapter of the national SACNAS organization.
The executive board emphasizes that this club would provide valuable opportunities, such as access to conferences, and would be open to students from all majors. Student Congress will vote on this club at the next meeting.
by Margaret Mahoney ’21
Student Congress Publicity
Student Congress met on Tuesday, February 5, 2019 and welcomed two guest speakers.
The first speaker was a representative from the Rhode Island Blood Center who spoke to Congress about the critical need for blood and the blood drive happening on campus Tuesday and Wednesday.
The second guest speaker was Shan Mukhtar, director for the Center at Moore Hall. Mukhtar presented to Student Congress on the purpose of the Center at Moore Hall, which is to help “creative approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) through arts and culture.”
This goal is approached by the Center at Moore Hall and the Office of Institutional Diversity in four sub-goals. The first sub-goal of the Center is to foster an “affirming and ethically and critically engaged space” through encouraging students to share their ideas for the Center and creating affinity group dialogues and collaboration-focused events.
Additionally, Mukhtar said they are working to achieve this goal by making the Center at Moore Hall more inviting and by offering free tea, coffee, and snacks, in the Community Kitchen and Arts Café.
The second goal of the Center is to promote shared experiences of artistic and cultural forms, by hosting various programs involving poetry, urban dance, and visual arts.
The third goal of the Center is to advance deeper intellectual inquiry through partnerships with Campus Ministry and Feinstein Academic Center.
The final sub-goal of the Center at Moore Hall is focused on “solving problems correctly,” specifically focusing on initiating dialogue and debates on non-violence, racial bias, and restorative justice training.
Following the guest speakers’ presentations, Student Congress approved spring allocations for club funding and a piece presented last week regarding recycling in residence halls was postponed indefinitely.
Members of the Legislative Affairs Committee presented a piece to organize the process of presenting legislation.