By Connor Nolan ’19
Student Congress Publicity
This past Tuesday, Congress happily welcomed Providence College President Father Brian Shanley, O.P., to speak to its members. Fr. Shanley was invited for an extended Q&A session with Congress members about school policies, changes, or issues that students on campus had brought up to their representatives.
For example, there were multiple questions or suggestions regarding freedom of speech and censorship on campus. With some students unsure about when it is appropriate to speak up, speak out, or disagree with a teacher, members of the Congress wished to gain some insight into these issues. Fr. Shanley stated that it is tough to control whether or not a teacher is accepting to outside ideas or arguments within the classroom setting, but that the College itself is attempting to do a better job of giving both sides to an argument when it is presented on campus, whether it be through guest speakers or other events.
Similarly, a few different questions arose regarding the school’s Catholic roots, and how these roots can make it feel difficult to discuss or combat sensitive issues such as suicide and sexual health. Fr. Shanley sympathized with these views but admitted that, due to his role within both the church and the school, it was tough for him to comment on them.
Tiffany Gaffney, assistant dean of students, instead gave a brief answer as to how the school is working to be better in situations that can be detrimental to the student body, mainly speaking about the new programs on mental health awareness. She also alluded to a situation that was brought up about the showing of a controversial documentary on campus regarding suicide that was not allowed to be aired, and how the decision falls to certain members of the school faculty.
A few lighter questions were asked regarding the direction of the College’s future. Fr. Shanley spoke about the rising application and falling acceptance rate, citing them as signs that PC is making headway academically. After his discussion on attempting to grow the College’s applications across the nation, he fielded a question asking if the College would lose its Northeastern small school feel, but he believed that would always be a vital part of the College. He also spoke on the need to upgrade residential halls and the other buildings that have fallen behind on campus.
Following this, he fielded questions on the school’s diversity and new cultural center. Students suggested new ways of increasing diversity, such as recruiting more in cities and locally, as well as increasing Pell Grants or shifting more money towards need-based scholarships. Fr. Shanley promised to look into all questions and suggestions made by the members, and the 68th Student Congress would like to thank him for his time.
The Congress voted to repeal old rules within the constitution that required members of Congress to complete five service hours. The piece was introduced by Morgan Itz ’18 and Caroline Cook ’19 in order to clarify what exactly is asked of members of the Congress.The part being changed was considered superfluous, as it was really in place to ensure members attended mandatory events. A new piece was introduced yesterday, by the same presenters, that will instead require the members to attend mandatory events deemed fit by the executive board, including outside co-sponsored events. The new piece will be voted on next Tuesday.
Congress Updates 10.17.17
by Connor Nolan ’19
Student Congress Publicity
This past Tuesday, Congress welcomed back Dr. James Campbell, Title IX coordinator and assistant vice president for student development and compliance, to discuss the ongoing changes to the school’s outreach policies and programs regarding depression and suicide. He also introduced Cheryl Granai, the newly hired coordinator of prevention and outreach services for the College. She comes from Salve Regina University, and has already begun working to improve awareness on campus.
Campbell went on to talk to the members of Congress about how the changes are taking place, even though many are still in the preliminary stages. He also fielded questions as to what the Congress believed to be some of the more important aspects that needed to be addressed on campus regarding depression and suicide. Students had questions regarding the College’s policies on sexual health and how sometimes treating an issue as “taboo” can lead to psychological issues for those who deal with them on campus.
Questions were also asked regarding finding better ways to include isolated students, get professors involved, and how the insurance policy relates to counseling. Campbell promised to look into these issues during the overhaul of the program, and made it clear that insurance is not necessary in order to receive counseling. The Congress would like to thank Campbell and Granai for taking the time to speak to the Congress and wish them well in their work on this vital program.
This upcoming Friday, October 20, the outreach committee will be holding Pumpkin Fest from 3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. on Slavin Lawn. All are welcomed!
The Class of 2021 is looking forward to filling out their members, with special elections that are currently underway.
Congress will be going on retreat this weekend in order to build relationships and comradery with members of the club that they will be working with throughout the year. Best wishes to all going on the trip!
Although there was no old business to be presented before the Congress, one piece of new business was introduced on Tuesday. The proposed legislation would bring an end to the term “service hours” in designation of required events and time commitments for members of the Congress. The presenters of the piece spoke to the old designation and rules as being outdated and seemingly unenforceable, and instead wish to replace it with something that is more applicable. The Congress will hear the full details of the replacement next week, when it will more than likely be voted upon.