by Connor Nolan ‘19
Student Congress Publicity
On Tuesday, April 24, the Interim Director of Public Safety, Koren Kanadanian, came to speak to Student Congress. He spoke about the ongoing search for a new head of the Department of Public Safety who will lead the transition into becoming a certified law enforcement agency. This would professionalize the security on campus into a police force if they gain accreditation by meeting 84 standards. The school conducted a national search with over 200 applicants applying, and one candidate was chosen. After the selection, the choice fell through and a new process has begun to find a replacement. The plan is to hire the person over the summer and allow them to evaluate how best to move forward in the process.
Kanadanian explained that part of this will include more training for officers and supervisors, and possible updates to patrol cars and computer systems utilized by Public Safety. There was a question regarding the arming of officers on campus and how many officers will carry weapons if they gain accreditation. Kanadanian said that there are still conversations regarding how many officers will be armed if any, but that the officers will be sworn in and able to make arrests. They hope to hire recent academy graduates or retired officers who are licensed to carry weapons if they choose to arm officers.
The armed officers would deal with emergencies, enforcement, and calls for issues such as suspicious people on campus. Sworn officers mean Providence College would be able to bring issues on campus to court without the involvement of outside police.
This led to a question of officers having the authority to charge people, including students, and if something that used to lead to a student being reprimanded, would now lead to arrests. He spoke about how they would have the authority to arrest all students, but that write-ups and the officer’s discretion should not change as security technically already has the ability to involve police but often do not. Kanadanian sees the department as saving students from themselves more often than not, and this would hopefully make campus safer from outside threats.
There was also a question regarding the posting of an officer to the Eaton Gate at night, and while he agreed this would be a good idea to address in the future, as interim director he cannot make that change. This led to a question about the falling through of the person who was offered the job and if it is an issue that an interim director cannot make policy changes. Mr. Kanadanian said he has the authority to deal with issues as they arise.
There was also a question about current policies regarding Public Safety officers off campus because students have seen them out, especially on weekends. He said that they are there to help students, not run into police issues, and to corroborate student accounts of events in case of issues with the Providence Police Department.
After the failure to have a quorum at the past week’s meeting, last week’s legislation was voted upon at this general meeting of Congress.
The first piece of legislation regarded the reallocation of Dunkin’ Donuts’ revenue to fund the efforts of the philanthropy class offered on campus. The funds will be used to help improve the local community. The legislation was put to a vote and passed.
The second piece regarded the creation of a health and first aid course on campus. The presenters of the piece decided to table the piece without it being voted upon, but promised to continue to work on it in the future as they feel it is very important. They also spoke to the support they have from certain clubs, organizations, programs, and teachers on campus.
The next piece regarded allowing graduate student access to the health and personal counseling centers. As stated last week, the passing of this legislation would lead to more discussion within the school administration regarding this. It was put to a vote and passed.
The final piece of legislation regarded an internal change within the legislative affairs committee. It stated, “If you have endorsed a candidate you may not participate in legislative affairs committee activities or subcommittee on elections activities as defined in chapter one of the standing legislation.” This vote was passed as well.
by Connor Nolan ‘19
Student Congress Publicity
At this week’s general meeting, Student Congress welcomed Jim Campbell, Title XI coordinator, and Cheryl Granai, coordinator of outreach and prevention, to speak on a wide range of topics and field the members’ questions. The first topic regarded the work the health advisory committee has been doing to possibly offer health services and counseling for graduate students. Dr. Campbell stated that if this were to happen it would be offered for full-time grad students, who number close to 200 this year.
He also added that this will lead to certain issues if approved, including overcrowding of health services appointments and the discrepancy in price between undergraduate and graduate students. A student asked if the plan would be to grow undergraduate services and then make it available to graduate students or to make what is available now open to all. Dr. Campbell responded that our school has a good usage of the health center and counseling, which makes it a resource issue to expand to graduate students.
He also said that they are attempting to create classes or programs for undergraduates that would reduce need for counseling by better preparing students for struggles they will face. They have also been taking suggestions from multiple departments on the matter. The questions shifted towards the resources available to students online with one member of the congress asking why the website has not been kept up to date with new information regarding the health center and counseling.
Dr. Campbell said he will raise the issue but that the delay may have to do with the busyness of flu season. When a follow-up was asked, he also said they have some ideas on how to improve the website and will be looking into it. A student asked why there is still a disconnect between faculty and the health center regarding the need for a note if absent from class. He responded that the need for notes overcrowds the health center, and that teachers are directly notified when a student has a major illness, but when it comes to short term illness the teachers should not expect a note.
Granai then spoke on how they have been reaching out to students on leave by phone or letter in order to follow up on any problems and offer the services of the College. They were very proud about this, saying that other schools do not do this. This idea came from a Butler Hospital program run by Brown University that showed that keeping in contact leads to less health issues including suicide. She asked the members of congress to continue work on mental health initiatives on campus, and to help keep track of the number of attendees to report back to the government.
Questions followed on leave and students returning from leave acclimating to campus. They stated that this is the reason for the new program, and that they will continue to communicate until the student feels acclimated to the campus again upon return. When asked how Congress can continue to help, they wrapped up by suggesting that we continue these relationships into the future. Also, clubs should work together on these initiatives in order to reach as many students as possible. The congress would like to thank them for their time and commitment to the College.
There were not enough elected members present for voting, so this week’s old business was tabled until next Tuesday’s meeting, which is the last meeting of the 68th Student Congress.
Notes from Tuesday, April 10, 2018
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.
by Connor Nolan ‘19
This week the Providence College Student Congress welcomed Gail Dyer to speak at its meeting. Dyer is the associate general counsel for the College. As one of the top lawyers at the College, she came to field any questions the members of the congress might have regarding changes or problems here at Providence College.
One member of the Congress questioned the future consequences of changing from an Office of Safety and Security to an Office of Public Safety with an increase in trained officers. The student wondered if this would lead to records for small offenses on campus staying with someone for life, similar to a police record. Dyer disagreed with the idea that this will occur, and referenced the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Acts that protect students at the College, except in the case of an investigation involving police. A student questioned if the school is fully compliant with FERPA, and Dyer said that the school is as compliant as they can be and takes the law very seriously, as all schools should. If there have been small hiccups involving FERPA laws, she promised that they had been swiftly dealt with.
The conversation then turned to off-campus issues. One Congress member asked what role the College takes in off campus issues and what Dyer believed should change regarding students living off campus. Another student added that it can often feel like the cops are “out to get” students from the College. Dyer spoke to the fact that the school has always attempted to work alongside the Providence Police Department, and that she believes most of the issues people refer to off-campus regard small violations such as open containers.
One student fed off of this, asking how much money the school gives to the police in order to subsidize their increased patrols and other activities around the College. Dyer said she was unsure of the amount, but did state that it’s true that the school subsidizes police efforts. This led to another member of Congress questioning whether the increased police presence over recent years as a result of this funding had truly led to a decrease in crime off-campus.
As a follow up, one student wondered if it was fair for the College to say they have no role in off campus life or the increase in arrests, tickets, and door stickers if they were subsidizing the police in the area. She disagreed with the premise of the school’s money being the cause of more violations, but thanked the speaker for posing these important questions that need to be discussed.
The discussion then gravitated towards students’ rights on campus, with one Congress member asking why rape kits aren’t offered in the health office. Dyer felt strongly that this was an important question but explained that trained professionals are necessary to perform a kit, and that we are lucky to have great hospitals close by that can administer one when necessary.
This led to a student questioning what exactly the College’s response is in the case of a sexual assault. She explained the reporting process and its intricacies more in depth as well, showing how the College deals with these important issues.
A student also wished to know about the College’s academic freedom and freedom of speech policies, referring to a situation where the student had attempted to discuss sexual safety on campus. Words had been censored and certain topics were unable to be discussed such as contraception.
Dyer explained the academic freedom laws on campus, but stated that as a private institution the College does reserve the right to curtail certain speech due to factors such as the “harm principle.” She added that many teachers have applauded how well the College does in allowing free speech in recent research.
A student followed up asking how the school can clarify what can and cannot be said, as many students are unsure and it can lead to issues. She believed that as a society we are still trying to figure that out, and that students must be wary of illegal harassment.
One member finished the questions by asking about tenure laws. Dryer answered that “it [tenure] is a permanent appointment.” In response to a follow-up question about retirement age, she answered that “that does not apply to us, that although some fields – such as some police and fire departments – have such requirements – those are not applicable to faculty.”
The Congress would like to thank Dyer for taking the time to field its member’s questions.
As for old business, the Cooking Club and Astronomy Club were passed, and a recommendation regarding placing professor’s office hours on the PC Portal passed.
Correction: The paragraph discussing tenure and retirement originally misquoted Dryer, but has been changed with direct quotes.
by Connor Nolan ‘19
Student Congress Publicity
This past Tuesday, Father Brian Shanley, O.P., came to speak to the Congress and field any questions or concerns from its members. He began by speaking about construction projects on campus now and in the future. He spoke of his relief in the fact that the new sciences building is developing on time, but still has a long road ahead of it. If the new additions are ready by next fall, they can begin “phase two” which includes renovating the badly outdated portions of the building. The Ruane Friar Development Center’s steel work is almost completed, and they hope that the basketball team will be able to utilize it by next September, according to Fr. Shanley.
After that is completed, they plan on creating some sort of atrium between Slavin and Alumni as well as renovating ’64 Hall. Providence College is also looking into adding a second story to Slavin in order to give Career Services more space to expand. Fr. Shanley then shifted his focus to the question, “what next?”
Apparently, the College has set its sights on improvements to residential housing for the next building plan. A firm is in the process of being hired to come in and evaluate the housing currently on campus. Fr. Shanley assumes that Aquinas Hall and other underclassmen dorms will be the main focus of any projects as well as the area “behind the business school,” which is very outdated.
Fr. Shanley then opened the floor to questions. Students asked who would be allowed to use the Friar Development Center, and if tuition money is going to it if we are unable to utilize its facilities. Fr. Shanley was unsure of the numbers as far as the tuition question was concerned, but the facility will be solely utilized by athletics and predominantly the basketball team. However, Fr. Shanley believes this will allow Alumni’s facilities to be more available to the student body for club or intramural sports.
Fr. Shanley also hinted at the school attempting to cover a field for rainy days so that sports practices and other activities can still take place. One student asked if the school planned on making changes to food options on campus in any upcoming plans, but Fr. Shanley believed changes to Ray and alumni to not be as important as some of the plans he had previously discussed. Another member stated that as the College makes residential changes, more study areas should be added as the library and Ryan Center are often full of students and it can be tough to find an area to work. Father Shanley then spoke briefly about his upcoming sabbatical and talked about Father Kenneth Siccard, O.P., taking over his duties while he is away.
One student talked about having spoken to trustees who were unhappy with the College’s work in completing its Catholic mission statement. He answered that it took many years to rework the current mission statement. Also, there are people who believe the College is doing too little, and some who think they are doing too much. According to Fr. Shanley, this is a sign that a middle ground has been found. He was also asked about the school increasing its environmental practices utilized on campus. He said that in the last few days they have made an agreement to use more solar energy on campus. Many questions followed regarding the increase in tuition and room and board implemented by the College.
Some students suggested implementing a freeze program so a student pays the same price all four years, and some thought more of the money should be going to financial aid. Also, a student wondered if the school could allow more financial aid rather than the loans offered.
The questions then shifted to a more academic focus. Fr. Shanley was asked about ways to improve the standing of the business school and stated that changes may be made to quell the number of students allowed into the school. One student suggested having a class that is required for all majors to help with this or a GPA requirement.
He then said the school may not be doing a good enough job of encouraging students to choose majors they enjoy or are good at rather than preparing to get a job. Courses are being looked into to help better prepare freshmen for these major decisions. Fr. Shanley was also asked why classes were not cancelled to allow students to attend Dr. Bernice King’s Convocation speech, and he stated he wished he could have but the preparations for the event happened too late. The Congress would like to thank Fr. Shanley for attending and fielding the student bodies questions.
The first piece of old business at this week’s meeting regarded the clarification of Board of Programmers as a passive member within congress. The wording was changed slightly to show their representative will no longer have a vote. The BOP representative spoke to this making sense, and the piece was put to a vote. It was passed by all present members.
The second piece of old business regarded asking the dean’s office to hire an outside group to come in and evaluate the campus’ accessibility for students with disabilities. Students seemed very receptive to this idea, and the vote was passed unanimously.
The first piece of new business presented before the club regarded the formation of a Cooking Club on campus. The club was very prepared with a slideshow and explanation for their future plans if approved by the Congress. They also brought up how this can help diversity and inclusion, by including students of many cultures and cooking dishes from these cultures. They have been utilizing the Campus Ministry kitchen with Father Peter Martyr Yungwirth, O.P. They have some need for money and supplies in order to get certain cooking utensils. When asked if these numbers would go down following the purchase of reusable items, they agreed that was the case. They currently have over one hundred members and have come up with safety waivers, as well as schedules to sign up and cook. Students in the Congress spoke to the merits of the club, and it should be voted upon at the next general meeting.
The next piece of new business regarded the formal recognition of Astronomy Club. The presenters seemed very prepared, and even had multiple professors who were aiding the club through use of equipment such as telescopes. They claimed to not require much funding other than to maybe take trips to the Brown University observatory. They claimed the school does not provide many of the opportunities that they wish to. The club will more than likely be voted upon next week.
The final piece of new business regarded the posting of professors’ office hours on a master list that would be available to all on Sakai. The presenter said this would be a streamlined way to view office hours and that it had the support of at least one prominent professor on campus. It will fall to the administrative assistants in each department to deal with this and could be a great help to many students of different majors. A member wondered if this was necessary due to their locations on Sakai and in syllabi for specific classes, but the presenter stated that this would be helpful for all students. The presenter went on to explain that for instance, if a student is looking to meet with an advisor or a teacher they do not currently have to see if they want to take their class or are interested in the major they teach in. This piece should be voted upon at the next general meeting of congress.
by Connor Nolan ‘19
At this week’s general meeting of Student Congress Adam Hauerwas, who is in charge of Sakai, came to open up a dialogue regarding use of Sakai in student elections. There had been questions regarding discounted ballots due to inefficiencies in Sakai’s interface that allowed students to vote for multiple candidates for the same positions. This most often pertains to class representative elections, as the system is unable to stop students from voting for more than five candidates. Hauerwas explained that while this leads to discounted ballots, it has never been by a margin that fully changed the outcome of the election. Instead, it has just changed the percentage of victory. He implored the Congress to look into ways to lessen the number of special elections needed as there has been at least one almost every election cycle.
Hauerwas then fielded a few questions from the members of congress. One involved the implementing software on the school website, and Hauerwas said students who want to do so should contact those who run the website, as Sakai is an independent system. He also added that while parts of Sakai are able to be accessed through the Providence College app, elections cannot be made available there since they are separate systems. The Congress thanks Hauerwas for coming to speak and looks forward to welcoming Father Brian Shanley, O.P., attendance at next week’s meeting.
A piece regarding student elections and students returning from study abroad was postponed as it needs more work.
Last week’s allocations piece was reintroduced with the changes in funding for the upcoming semester. There had been a mistake with the information shown to the Congress, but upon clarification from the presenter the budget was set to be voted upon. One member pointed out that the clubs with zeros next to their name received no increase, but would instead be keeping what they already were allocated. A graph was also provided in order to show how the money was spread across various clubs on campus. The piece was then put to a vote and was passed unanimously.
A new piece of business was introduced by members of the Congress to clarify previous legislation regarding the status of the Board of Programmers’ representative to the Congress. The presenters spoke to its necessity, as there are two different explanations of BOP’s role, one calling them a passive member and one saying they have a vote within the Congress. The second of these will be removed if the piece is passed, and the Board of Programmers would return to being a passive non-voting member. One member applauded the piece, saying the contradiction within the constitution needed to be fixed and that this had started from controversy years ago. It should be voted upon at next week’s meeting.
One final piece of legislation was brought before the Congress with the intention of having the campus evaluated by a third party to judge if the campus is fully accessible to disabled students. The presenters believed that with the many changes the College is undergoing, it is a necessity to not forget the disabled students that struggle to get certain places on campus. The changes currently being made to the Department of Public Safety were sparked by a third-party review, and the presenters hope this would enact similar changes. One member of the Congress asked who will pay for the review, and the presenters hoped that the funding would come from the dean’s office. Many members spoke to the necessity for this and the need for the Congress to fight for all students. The piece should be voted upon next week.
Student Congress Publicity
Student Congress held its second general meeting of the year on Tuesday, January 30. The congress began the meeting by hearing from a guest speaker, Jackie Peterson. Peterson is a transitional consultant at Providence College and is focused on “assessing the overall structure” of the College regarding diversity and how to best improve diversity on campus. She also spoke of her support for the search committee which is currently heading the hiring process for the new Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion. Peterson was the former vice president of student affairs at the College of the Holy Cross and has held multiple high-level positions at other colleges and universities. She is hoping to use her years of experience as well as suggestions from the members of Student Congress to help the College take “an important next step.”
Peterson asked those at the meeting who had attended Dr. Bernice A. King’s convocation speech to remember if anything she said could be pertinent to helping improve Providence College’s diversity and community. The idea of harmony arose as one representative attested to the need for peace and understanding of others. Peterson agreed with this, adding that we need to have an open dialogue with others and recognize the humanity of all people. Another member of congress invoked a powerful quote of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., saying, “It’s not that you want to win, it’s that you want to win them over.” The member believed that it needed to be pointed out that sometimes it seems that the school would like to change perceptions, but is not necessarily have an open and accepting dialogue. The member challenged the school to have a greater interest in actually affecting change rather than making it seem like there has been change.
From there Peterson moved on to ask the students of congress what exactly they would suggest or say to the new person that will be hired as vice president of diversity and inclusion. One question involved the congress itself, with an elected member asking what more the congress can do to attempt to affect change on campus. A piece that was introduced last semester had offered to have congress reach out to other groups on campus in order to promote diversity, but gained little traction as many did not see it as the Congress’s duty or thought it would infringe on the work other groups do.
Peterson responded by stating that although it may not be directly expressed in our mission statement, one of the most important things on a campus is to have a strong foundational organization that is as diverse and inclusive as possible. A member of the congress also suggested that the College should do more to make students realize their voice has real power to effect change on this campus. Many students are apathetic, and if the school focused more on building connections more people would recognize their voice as their power.
From there, the conversation turned to the necessity for there to be more people of color both in the student body as well as the faculty. According to one student, it can be hard for a person of color to feel engaged in a class where they can feel alone surrounded by all white students and teachers. Not only that, but members also wished for there to be more opportunities for women and members of the LGBTQ+ to feel a member of the community on campus. As one student pointed out, as one enters campus it feels as if it flaunts its diversity in signs and photos, but walking around campus one realizes its lack of credibility.
From there, students suggested the administration take a closer look at its scholarship and grant allocations saying the College should be willing to sacrifice some profit for the good of the College as a whole. If PC can build stronger relationships with more diverse high schools as well as offering financial aid, the school can seem more like home for many students that are already here.
Finally, some students wished to see changes to the diversity requirement. Some classes that fulfill the requirement do not seem to actually teach about diversity, and if the College is committed to creating a dialogue that’s a place to start educating students. With that, Peterson thanked the congress for giving the time and promised to look into many of these issues as well as challenging the congress to effect change. The Student Congress thanked Peterson for taking the time to have a dialogue.
The Excel Club was scheduled to be voted on first, but was delayed until after the vote for the Music Production Club.
The Music Production Club attested to their opportunities in a wide field of musical styles. Many members spoke to the good aspects of this idea, especially because our school does not have many musical opportunities. One question arose as to funding, but the presenter of the club requested no funding at the present time. With this, the club was passed with one nay vote. Congrats to all involved and good luck.
The question arose again as to the Excel Club, and many students spoke to its necessity on campus. One question arose if the club had attempted to be a part of the Providence College School of Business, but the presenters of the club wanted to be able to extend help to students of all majors in order to utilize excel. Many defended this aspect of the club, and the piece was put to a vote. It passed with one nay vote.
One piece of legislation regarding a change to congress elections for juniors going abroad was tabled for a week so the presenters could refine some of the details.
Finally, the allocations for the upcoming semester were discussed, and will be worked on extensively by the club in the coming days. It will be voted on soon in order to get clubs the funding they need.
by Connor Nolan ‘19
Student Congress Publicity
Congress held its second meeting of the semester this past Tuesday, January 23.
The members of Congress were urged to attend the Involvement Fair on Wednesday, January 24, and help improve activity on campus.
The class executive boards are working hard to plan events for the semester; be on the lookout for messages posted around campus or in the Morning Mail.
The Excel Club presented before Congress in hopes of gaining accreditation as a club on campus. The head of the clubs and organizations committee applauded their preparedness and strong foundation of students already involved in the club. With a plan to set up liaisons to different departments at the College, they hope to extend the knowledge of Microsoft Excel many have within the School of Business to other departments. They added that they did not require funds from the college if accredited at this time.
The Music Production Club also presented before Congress in hopes of becoming official. There is no such club on campus catering to the needs of those interested in creating music, according to the founder of the club. Although they did not have a direct plan for how, the creators of the club wish to help other groups on campus as a way of getting the word out about what they do, such as through creation of music videos or something along those lines.
After a member of Congress suggested they attempt to contact and work with the PCTV club, the proposer of the music production club agreed that this may be a good idea and that he knew people involved in PCTV. Their goal is to hopefully gain funding to support trips to music studios, and maybe in the future have one built on campus.
The final piece of new business for this week’s meeting offered a change to the current candidate structure of those wishing to run for Congress while studying abroad. The presenters of the piece of legislation wish to make it possible for two students who are studying abroad in different semesters to split the role of representative while present on campus. This was in hopes of allowing those who wish to be more involved with Congress, but also study abroad to have the chance to serve as a partial class representative.
This proposal was met with a good amount of questioning, with many feeling putting two names on the ballot would skew the results in favor of people who might know one of the two candidates and in turn vote for both. Also, some spoke to the merits of having to fill these positions with people who have yet to be a part of Congress, which is helpful in making Congress truly representative of all students. Some chose to offer compromises such as requiring more signatures than the customary 50 required to run if there are multiple candidates, or making this a temporary measure if not all representative slots are filled in elections.
by Connor Nolan ‘19
Student Congress Publicity
Student Congress’s Executive Board would like to thank all of its members for a great semester and wishes good luck to all those leaving to study abroad.
The first piece of old business presented before the congress in this past Tuesday’s meeting regarded the formation of a Pre-Law Society on campus. The club was passed unanimously by the members in attendance. Congratulations to all who worked on it.
Another piece of old business also regarded the formation of a club on campus, Campus Cursive, also known as More Love Letters. The presenters of the piece reiterated some of the reasons the club came to be that were discussed in the previous week’s meeting. They urged all students to look into moreloveletters.com as well. There was no discussion to follow, and the club was passed unanimously by those in attendance. Congratulations to the members of the club and congress who worked on it.
The third piece of old business to be voted upon at this week’s meeting regarded the usage of a candidate information form by all those running for positions on congress. The presenter spoke to the piece’s merits, saying that this is a good step to getting students to know more about the people who they are voting for, especially for feshmen. Members of congress attested to this being a good idea and even spoke about how it could lead to greater voter turnout on campus. The piece was passed and will be implemented next election cycle.
An important piece of old business regarded the formation of an environmental biology major here at Providence College. The presenters emphasized that many other colleges have an environemntal biology major, as well as the support from PC science professors for the establishment of this major. They also declared that the deadline to declare the major would be the end of the fall semester junior year for current biology majors and spring semster sophomore year for non-science majors. The major was passed in a vote by all members of congress. Congratulations to all who worked hard for this as well as the academics committee.
The next piece of old business regarded the possible veto of mandatory events determined by the executive board of congress. The presenter of the piece, following heated discussion last week, decided to table the piece definitely.
Another piece of old business regarded the revote on an old piece of congress legislation that had fallen out of practice years ago. It spoke of the internal approval of committee appointments which are chosen by the executive board. Multiple questions followed including why this is necessary, why the speaker said it would be detrimental if it was not passed, how the process would exactly work, and why so much of why it was necessary was theoretically based. Following these questions and confusion, the presenter moved to have the piece tabled definitely as well.
The last piece of old business presented at the meeting included the formation of the SCITE committee to support change and inclusiveness on campus. This ad hoc committee (possibly instated on a temporary basis) would be a part of congress just as any other committee currently is. The presenters spoke at length about the need for this, including Congress’s need to be “bigger and more impactful in the community.” This “team” would also follow through on passed legislation to help implement it on campus. They made changes that were heavily debated last week, including removal of the phrases “protest” and “teach” from the legislation. Some clubs supported the idea of having a sort of “liaison” from congress, but others were less receptive. They were also questioned on whether they had reached out to the diversity and inclusion committee already on campus, and some wished they had done more to work with them instead of through congress. Some members of the congress also believed that this may lead to less active fighting for diversity and involvement in congress, as members could just claim the committee was doing it. All seemed to agree the congress should do more, but many seemed to think this was not the best way. Some race-based conversations followed, with all members of congress remaining cordial. and calm, leading to vital and necessary discussion. The presenters reiterated that this committee was not made to do away with or hurt other clubs, it was instead to address a problem seen both within congress and on campus. A vote was called, but the piece did not pass.
by Connor Nolan ‘19
Student Congress Publicity
The first piece of old business presented before the congress called for appointing a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council as a liaison to Student Congress. The piece passed and a new liaison will be welcomed to the congress shortly.
The second piece of old business presented before the congress regarded the establishment of a rule that would stop anyone on campus from reserving the great room in Aquinas past 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. The piece is aimed at creating more study environments for students as the room is often unable to be used for studying while events are happening. Some members of congress did not see the need for this piece, citing ample study spaces in other buildings at most times other than midterms and finals. Although many on congress spoke against the bill, the piece did pass.
The first new piece of legislation presented at the meeting regarded the formation of a Pre-Law Society on campus. The presenters offered many reasons why the club is very necessary including connecting with industry professionals in law careers and filling a need that is not fully met by the school administration. They hope to connect the various members of the Providence College community who plan to apply to law school, as well as educating underclassmen in the field.
Another club presented on Tuesday hoping to gain accreditation on campus was PC Love Letters. The presenters spoke extensively on the inspiration and meaning behind the club, alluding to a speaker who recently presented on campus and her mission. Hannah Brencher presented earlier this semester on campus regarding her program The World Needs More Love Letters. Members of congress commended the presenters and saw the importance of support systems such as these on campus.
A piece of legislation was presented regarding the implementation of a candidate information form to be filled out by congress applicants. If someone is running for an elected position within congress they will be asked to fill out a short 20-word form. The presenter spoke on the importance of this piece, saying it is important for people to know who they are voting for, especially freshman who have only been on campus a short time before their first election. It seemed as though members of congress were receptive to the idea, but the presenter was questioned as to if it was possible for it to be implemented on Sakai in its current format.
Another piece of legislation presented before the congress that has been worked on for a long time pertained to the creation of an environmental biology major at the College. The objective is to have it implemented as a formal major as of fall 2018. It is backed by many professors at the college who deem it a necessary and vital major. The academics committee of the congress has worked closely with administration in presenting this piece, and the congress seemed very receptive to the idea.
The next piece of new business presented before the congress pertained to an amendment that had been passed in recent weeks that dealt internally with congress’ use of a service hour requirement. This new piece sought to deal with the idea of “mandatory events” deemed by the executive board. The presenter of the piece wished to ensure that this would never be taken advantage of by a sitting executive board in the future. Instead, the presenter wishes for there to be a vote to veto mandatory events if they are seen as unnecessary by the members of congress. It would need to be a 2/3 majority vote to veto the decision. Some believed it odd to create legislation for something that may or may not happen in the future with some saying the congress would have larger issues if an executive board in the future was making these sort of decisions, and the discussion continued as to whether or not this was necessary or an indictment on the trust put in the executive board.
Another piece of important legislation was presented on Tuesday regarding the formation of a committee within the congress called SCITE (Supporting Change and Inclusiveness Towards Equality.) The main goals of the committee would be: to reach out to organizations on campus and ask what congress can do to help them reach their goals and missions. To support, facilitate, organize, and promote campus wide protests and events focused on social justice issues. To put on events that provide education, resources and support to students that encourages and promotes human flourishing on campus. The presenters spoke of the need for this committee, saying that congress has not done as well as it should in these areas and that it would be a great way to help promote diversity and inclusion on campus. It was questioned as to why this would not be included as a part of student life which is already a committee on congress. It was also made clear that this committee would deal with all people on campus, not just a select group. Many feared that this may step on the toes of activist groups on campus, some of whom are also members of the congress. Some of these points led to some hotly contested discussion on both sides. The piece will be voted upon in the next general meeting.
The last piece of new business brought forward during the meeting pertained to an old piece of legislation that was no longer being adhered to by the congress regarding the approval of committee appointees. Congress committee members are chosen through an interview process led by the members of the executive board. The legislation had stated that each committee head should have a single vote each to approve the selections. It is seen as a sort of check on executive power.