A Year for the Books: An Overview of COVID-19 at PC This Academic Year

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


Campus


Picture of Eaton Street from fall 2020. Hannah Langley ’21/THECOWL.

by Hannah Langley ’21

News Co-Editor

Since the formation of this committee, PC students have become all too familiar with emails and text notifications for daily screenings, weekly testing schedules, and other updates. 

An email from Dr. Sean Reid, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, explained the mix of classes that would be offered going into the fall semester. The mix of in-person, hybrid, split, hy-flex, and remote classes gave faculty the ability to choose the way in which they wished to teach their classes. It also gave students who decided to remain remote and not return to campus greater flexibility. 

Not long into the fall semester, a COVID-19 outbreak occurred. On Sept. 17, Fr. Sicard announced that the College would be shifting to “total remote learning at least through September 26” after over 80 students tested positive in the span of two days. On-campus students were directed to not leave campus, and stay-at-home orders were put in place for all off-campus students. By Sept. 19, the number of cases rose to about 138 positive students. 

On Sept. 25, Fr. Sicard announced that remote instruction and stay-at-home directives for students would last until Oct. 3. Just a few days later, the date was extended to Oct. 8 for on-campus students and Oct. 12 for off-campus students. 

The outbreak led to several initiatives by the College, including weekly testing for all students, consistent messaging about remaining in one’s pod, a restriction on any non-essential travel, and more. Rising cases in the state by November also caused Governor Gina Raimondo to make several announcements, restricting group gatherings to 10 and setting curfews. 

Following winter break, students began to return with point-of-origin tests the week of Jan. 18. With classes resuming on Jan. 25, weekly COVID tests also resumed. Not long into the spring semester, though, a smaller COVID outbreak occurred. Students both on and off campus were sent to the Providence Marriott Downtown and Davis Hall to quarantine and isolate. The Continuity Task Force announced that PC had an approximately 2% positivity rate, leading to further restrictions from the President’s Office.

This second outbreak led to the decision to have students tested twice a week. For the remainder of the semester, students were asked to go for testing either Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays, leaving Fridays for faculty and staff testing. 

As cases began to decline, more and more restrictions and precautions began to ease. McPhail’s reopened on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays for seniors. Attendance of outdoor games began to be permitted. Acceptable outdoor group gatherings increased to 50 people. Club sports were able to resume. An in-person commencement with two guests per graduate was approved to be held on May 20 on Hendricken Field. 

Vaccines were also made eligible to all Rhode Island residents 16-years-old or over. Friars off campus began getting vaccinated towards the end of March, and the College held a vaccination clinic for all students, faculty, and staff on April 28. 

Fr. Sicard reflected on the year by saying, “I think that one of the best decisions that we made was to reopen in person.” He continued, “During the first year of my presidency, I have been deeply moved by the commitment I have seen from our faculty, staff, and students. So many went above and beyond in caring for each other, in helping our students succeed, and in keeping each other safe and well.”

Ann Manchester-Molak, executive vice president, commented as well, saying, “In the 40+ years that I’ve worked here, I honestly can say that I have never experienced such a spirit of collegiality, involving so many faculty, staff, and students who joined together to somehow maneuver the highs and lows of a pandemic that has affected us all so acutely.” She commended the work of faculty, staff, and students who each did their part to persevere this academic year. 

 While masks are still required on campus, social distancing is still enforced, and students are still getting tested twice per week, there has been a significant change in COVID protocols since the fall semester began in August. Both Fr. Sicard and Manchester-Molak noted their excitement at the opportunity to have an in-person commencement for the class of 2021 to conclude the year. 

The PC community has faced many trials and tribulations in dealing with COVID-19, but actions being taken and certain restrictions being eased show that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and a promising future for the next academic year. As Manchester-Molak stated, “Someday we will be able to look back at this year and realize that the goodness of ordinary people—doing extraordinary things—was all around us.” 

Derek Chauvin Found Guilty for Murder of George Floyd

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


National and Global News


Photo courtesy of Providence Journal.

by Hannah Langley ’21

News Co-Editor

On May 25, 2020, cries of “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace” were heard around the United States following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. After kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes, it was reported that a medical examiner concluded Floyd had died of cardiac arrest. 

Nearly one year later, Chauvin was put on trial for his involvement in the death of George Floyd, and on April 20, was found guilty of second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter. It was reported that the conviction of second-degree murder meant that the “jurors unanimously agreed that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death during the commission of a felony assualt.”

Chauvin has not received his full sentence yet, but could receive as much as 40 to 70 years in prison. His final sentencing will take place in eight weeks. “Today, we are able to breathe again,” said Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, following the verdict. 

Father Kenneth Sicard, O.P., released a statement following the verdict, as well, condemning the violence experienced across this country everyday. “As president of Providence College,” he said, “let me state unequivocally that we must decry the callous loss of life that we see so often in our cities and on our streets.” He continued, “I encourage all members of our community to pray for peace and for an end to this senseless violence, and to support one another in kindness and respect.”

The email also included resources available to the Providence College community for support.

Many celebrate the fact that Chauvin has been held accountable for his actions, unlike the many police officers who have taken the lives of innocent men, women, and children over the years. This case will hopefully act as a precedent to keep police officers and others in power answerable for their misdeeds. 

Addressing the Pain of the Past: PC Hosts Interview With Comedian Trevor Noah

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


Campus


Current juniors were asked to read Noah’s Born a Crime during their freshman orientation. Photo courtesy of Amazon.

by Hannah Langley ’21

News Co-Editor

Before the class of 2022 began their journey as Providence College Friars, they were asked to read Trevor Noah’s autobiography, Born a Crime, which documents his life as a child of a Black mother and white father in apartheid South Africa. On April 15, Noah was invited to answer questions from the class of 2022 in a virtual conversation with provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, Sean Reid, which was then made accessible to the College community on April 20. 

Noah is a South African comedian, host, writer, political commentator, producer, and actor. Known for hosting The Daily Show, Noah adds a comedic lens to current events and issues in America. 

Reid began the conversation by asking Noah if he ever thought as a young child that he would host his own show or host award shows such as the Grammys. Noah joked that he did not even know what the Grammys were when he was a young child, but regardless, discussed how he had wanted to be a policeman when he was a child and a computer scientist when he got older. 

Noah talked about how his career has taken a very different trajectory, as he began to realize that his real passion lay in comedy. As his career progressed, opportunities began to present themselves to him. Noah remembered how his mom used to tell him, “When God closes one door, he opens another.” 

Noah credits his ability to begin something new with “enthusiasm and grace” and to not be afraid of failure as part of his success.

He advised PC students to have the same outlook and mentality on life. “Understand that you can always change. Understand that this isn’t your entire journey. Every book has a beginning, a middle, and an end.” He told PC students, “Whatever you start doing, do it with everything you got. Approach it with the best vigor you can.”

When asked how he stays so positive with all the issues in the world today, Noah replied that he is not positive all the time, but tries to maintain a “net positive” mindset. He said feeling hopeless or sad or other emotions is part of life, and it is okay to feel those ways, but he tries to not remain in that hopelessness and to instead be optimistic. “Optimism is oftentimes the only thing that has gotten us here,” Noah said, meaning that optimism often leads to discovery, which is how we evolve as a society. 

Despite feeling optimistic, though, Noah still recognizes the turmoil and divisiveness that exist in America, especially within politics. He argued, “The two party system has done America a huge disservice” as it has created a culture where people believe there are only two sides to every issue. “Unless you have honest conversations,” said Noah, “everything remains binary.”

Noah continued, saying that America must look to the past to move forward. “Racism and oppression all have compound interest,” said Noah, meaning that if not addressed properly, the issues will only continue to grow over time. “I don’t think you can fix the ills of the past without addressing them first,” he said.

He also argued that people cannot avoid politics, even if they believe they can. “Politics cares about you,” said Noah, “It’s in your life whether you like it or not.” He even noted how his own birth was political, as his mother could get arrested any day for having a child with a white man in apartheid South Africa. 

Growing up in South Africa did not come without its struggles, Noah explained. In writing his book, he realized he had to become vulnerable to share his life experiences. “Writing a book about yourself is extremely…terrifying,” said Noah. He realized there were many events in his life that he had gotten past, but had never fully gotten over, and found it difficult to be that honest and vulnerable about them in his writing. 

He talked about how this struggle led him to comedy, saying there is “something about struggling that wants human beings to find a way to contextualize their experience.” Noah continued, explaining how he thinks “comedy and struggle are inextricably linked.” “When we laugh,” he explains, “we become the truest versions of ourselves.” He continued, explaining the pricelessness of laughing: “The one thing you can create yourself is a laugh.”

Noah also discussed how much of his strength comes from his mother and his religion. He explained how his mother, who is strong but honest and vulnerable, helped prepare him for the realities of the world. She also emphasized to him the importance of not only reading the Bible, but interpreting it in different contexts and ways. 

Noah exemplified this idea of interpreting the Bible in different ways in his interview with Reid. He discussed how even in the Bible, there are politics, conflict, and more. From Moses negotiating with Pharoah to Jesus telling the Scripture scholars to rethink some of their old teachings, the Bible provides examples of understanding what life really is, just as his mother told him from a young age. 

When asked what his next plans are, Noah replied that he does not know. “I focus on the here, and the here will become the there in time,” he said. He advised students at PC to enjoy every moment of their time in college, to take advantage of every opportunity, to be unafraid to try new things, to challenge themselves, and to carry their present joy into the future. 

 

#PCShouldBePROUD: BOP and SHEPARD Host Week to Celebrate LGBTQ+

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


Campus


The Schitt’s Creek finale revolves around the marriage of David, who is pansexual, and Patrick, who is gay. photo courtesy of latimes.com

by Hannah Langley ’21

News Co-Editor

From April 19 to April 23, the Board of Programmers and SHEPARD—Stopping Homophobia, Eliminating Prejudice and Restoring Dignity—is hosting events to celebrate and educate Providence College about the LGBTQ+ community. 

The week included several events, beginning with a Schitt’s Creek watch party and discussion on Monday, followed by “How to Be a Better Ally” on Tuesday, “Tell Your Story” on Wednesday, and a health and wellness panel tonight. There will also be an event, “PEACES of Me Paint Night” held tomorrow, April 23. 

Joshua Flynn ’22, a social work major and member of BOP, talked about how organizing this week in conjunction with Lucia Gonzales-Solis ’22, a member of SHEPARD’s executive board, meant a lot to him. “Being on BOP comes with a large amount of privilege because I can plan events the way that I want to impact the PC community,” said Flynn. He continued, “As a gay man myself, I knew it was important for me to plan events that have LGBTQ themes and ideas so that the PC community can come to hopefully learn and have fun at these events.”

Flynn explained the purpose behind each of the events planned for the week, beginning with their decision for a Schitt’s Creek watch party. The show, he says, “is an incredibly LGBTQ positive show that depicts a world without homophobia and uses comedy to talk about heavy themes. It’s a critically acclaimed show and we wanted to talk about its impact that it has had in the world.” 

Tuesday’s event, “How to Be a Better Ally,” was an event run by SHEPARD for PC students to learn more about homophobia, how to use correct pronouns and phrasing, and how straight people can support the LGBTQ+ community. 

“Tell Your Story” gave PC students the opportunity to speak about their own experiences with homophobia in a safe space. The health and wellness panel will bring in PC professors and administration to speak about “healthy relationships, mental health, and have a sex-positive discussion about romantic relationships,” explained Flynn. The panel will include Erin Corry, LGBTQ+ resource advisor; Dr. Jonathan Dator from the personal counseling center; Dr. Katherine Kranz, interim dean of the school of professional studies; Dr. Abigail Brooks, director of the women’s and gender studies program; Dr. Maia Bailey, professor of biology; and Dr. Jessica Mulligan, professor of health policy and management. 

Friday’s event, “PEACES of Me Paint Night,” will be hosted by Kyia Watkins, owner of At Peace Arts, a mobile paint party company. Flynn explained that Watkins will “guide [attendees] through a paint night that is focused on [their] individual identities and celebrating that.” 

Although the events of this week are unique to this year’s celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, BOP and SHEPARD have been doing a week-long event like this since 2018. There has been some controversy, however, over the name of the event in the past. Gonzales-Solis explained how in 2018, when this week was first organized and celebrated, BOP and SHEPARD attempted to call the series “PC Proud.” The title, however, has since been unallowed by PC administration. The argument is that the administration believes the name is tied too closely to the “Pride movement,” and, according to administration, the College cannot support this movement. 

Since this information has been made public, many members of the PC community have spoken out, saying it is unjust, as the College uses the word “pride” in much of their campaigning for other events, fundraising, and more. Students have begun a #PCShouldBePROUD movement on Instagram, reposting a graphic detailing their frustrations on their Instagram stories to speak out. 

“Personally, I think it is disheartening to see PC censor and invalidate the identity of members of the so-called ‘Friar Family,’” said Gonzales-Solis. She continued, “As a member of the SHEPARD exec board, it oftentimes feels [like] we are walking on eggshells continuously as we attempt to organize inclusive events for the PC community. It is saddening that with every step forward we take towards LGBTQ+ inclusion, we are forced to take two steps backward by our administration.”

Although there is backlash from the PC community about the inability for BOP and SHEPARD to use the title “PC Proud,” Flynn talked about how he still wants the week to run successfully. “I want to make this week the best week that it can be,” he said. “I want people from all different backgrounds to be able to come to the event and take something away from it. The events are personal and educational and can offer something to anyone.” 

Providence College Welcomes Dr. Laurie Santos: Yale University Psychologist to Give Commencement Address

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


Campus


Dr. Laurie Santos will speak on May 20 to the class of 2021. Photo courtesy of Providence College.

by Andrea Traietti ’21 and Hannah Langley ’21

Editor-in-Chief and News Editor

At Yale University, Dr. Laurie Santos, a cognitive scientist and psychology professor, studies some of life’s age-old questions—questions like “What makes us happy?” and “What can we do to achieve the good life?” 

Providence College students have likely encountered these kinds of questions in Development of Western Civilization or philosophy classes, but in the midst of a global pandemic that has stretched over a year now, these questions have come to permeate everyday life as people around the world have searched for ways to find happiness even in difficult moments. 

PC will welcome Santos to campus as the commencement speaker at the College’s 103rd Commencement ceremony on May 20. After a year that often presented challenges and disappointments, Santos’s studies in happiness make her a particularly fitting choice to offer perspective to the graduating class of 2021. 

Santos graduated from Harvard University in 1997, where she received degrees in psychology and biology. Not only did Santos graduate magna cum laude, she was also awarded the annual Psychology Department Undergraduate Thesis Prize. Santos then went on to earn a master’s in psychology at Harvard in 2001, where she focused on cognition and brain behavior—the area in which she would later receive her doctorate in 2003. 

Santos began teaching at Yale University after receiving her doctorate and has since proven a valuable asset to the Yale faculty. After receiving her tenure in 2010, she became Yale’s director of undergraduate studies in psychology from 2010 to 2015. 

In 2018, Santos began teaching a course titled Psychology and the Good Life. It soon became the most popular course in Yale’s history, with about one-fourth of Yale undergraduate students enrolled and 170,000 people from at least 170 countries enrolled in the free online version of the course through Coursera. 

Besides teaching this course, Santos is also the director of Yale’s Comparative Cognition Laboratory, director of the Canine Cognition Center, and head of Yale’s Silliman College. Santos also has her own podcast, The Happiness Lab, which examines recent scientific research on factors that affect human beings’ well-being and happiness. 

Over the course of her academic and professional careers, Santos has earned numerous awards and received prestigious recognition. In 2003, her dissertation received the Richard J. Herrnstein Dissertation Prize. She was awarded the Stanton Prize for outstanding early-career contributions to interdisciplinary research by the Society for Philosophy and Psychology and Yale’s Arthur Greer Memorial Prize for Outstanding Junior Faculty in 2008. Santos was listed as one of the “Brilliant Ten” young scientists of 2007 in Popular Science magazine. In 2010, she gave a TED Talk at the TED Global Conference in the UK. In 2013, she was named a leading campus celebrity by Time magazine. Santos was also featured as the Association for Psychological Science Presidential Symposium speaker in 2011, granted Yale’s Lex Hixon ’63 Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences in 2012, and awarded both the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology and a Genius Award from the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey. 

In addition to Santos, four other honorary degree recipients will be recognized at commencement, including: Duane Bouligny ’94, John Chan ’74, Emily Leary, and E. James Mulcahy ’66.

Duane Bouligny ’94 is a managing director in the Leveraged Finance group at Wells Fargo Securities based in San Francisco, CA. Bouligny, who served as a trustee emeritus of the College from 2011-2020 and currently serves on PC’s Career Education Advisory Committee and the PC School of Business Advisory Council, has been a steadfast supporter of PC’s multicultural students. 

He served as co-chair of the first two “Reflecting Forward” weekends in 2017 and 2020, a PC initiative that celebrates the College’s multicultural alumni during a weekend of networking and special events on campus. In 2017, Bouligny and his wife Nancy made a generous gift to PC to name the Bouligny Lounge at the Center at Moore Hall, the College’s arts and multicultural facility designed to help promote diversity, equity, and inclusion at PC. The Boulignys also established the Duane ’94 and Nancy Bouligny Scholarship Fund in 2011 to assist African-American and Asian-American students.

John Chan ’74 is well known throughout Rhode Island and beyond for the food served at his Woonsocket restaurant, Chan’s Fine Oriental Dining—and also for his decades-long support of both famous and upcoming jazz, blues, folk, and cabaret artists and comedians whom he has invited to perform at his restaurant.

Chan gained exposure to both jazz music and the restaurant industry during his time at PC: his roommates, Joseph Small and Nehru King, who had a music show on WDOM 91.3 FM, introduced him to jazz, and he worked as a dishwasher, cook, and server at his parent’s restaurant during college. In 1977, he merged the two when he began introducing live music to Chan’s, which now holds the slogan “Home of egg rolls, jazz and blues.”

Chan was inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame in 2018. He was awarded the Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts by Trinity Repertory Company in 2015 and the Keeping the Blues Alive Award from the Blues Alive Foundation in Memphis, TN in 2011.

Emily Leary, along with her husband Bill ’10Hon, has donated more than $3 million to the College: The Learys have a scholarship fund in their name, give to the annual fund, support capital projects, PC Athletics, and more. 

In 2013, the Learys established the William C. and Emily D. Leary Endowed Scholarship to support students with financial need from Windsor Locks, East Granby, Suffield, Enfield, East Windsor, or Windsor, CT, or a student in need due to a sudden change in financial circumstances. 

Outside of her involvement with the College, Leary has been instrumental in starting and supporting a number of other philanthropic and community projects in Connecticut, where she serves on her parish council, volunteers at a shelter for the homeless in Hartford, and serves as a long-term volunteer and board member of a food kitchen in Enfield. Archbishop Henry J. Mansell of the Archdiocese of Hartford awarded Leary the St. Joseph Medal in 2013 for her efforts on behalf of her parish.

James (Jim) Mulcahy ’66 served as a member of PC’s board of trustees from 2000-2008. He was the inaugural chair of the College’s National Board of Overseers from 2009-2020, of which he is now immediate past chair. Mulcahy is also a member of the Providence College School of Business Advisory Council. The National Alumni Association presented Mulcahy with the Personal Achievement Award in 2016 for his service to the College.

Mulcahy graduated from PC with a degree in economics; he received a Master of Business Administration from Boston College in 1970 and a certificate in advanced management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management in 1979.

He began his career with Polaroid Corporation in 1969 and spent the majority of his early career with Dean Witter in Boston. Mulcahy held various roles with Smith Barney, a division of Citigroup Inc., from 1983-2001, and, in 2014, retired from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, where he was responsible for the oversight of four businesses with assets under management totaling $24 billion. 

With his wife, Kathryn, Mulcahy has endowed two scholarships at PC. The Mulcahy Family Scholarship Fund, established in 1998, supports students from the New York metropolitan area or Cape Cod. The Rev. James Quigley, O.P. ’60 Scholarship Fund, established in 2011, supports Hispanic or Latino students who attended a Catholic high school or are from Central or South America.  

Mulcahy is active in his community, as well, serving as a trustee of Cape Cod Healthcare, which oversees Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital, since 2018.

This year’s commencement ceremony for the graduating class of 2021 will take place on Hendricken Field on the Providence College campus on May 20. 

 

“Darty Season” Spells Impending Disaster: Off-Campus Parties Anger Many Members of PC Community

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


Campus


Students both on and off campus may be facing repercussions after Saturday’s events. Photo courtesy of the 02908 Club.

by Hannah Langley ’21

News Co-Editor

It was a beautiful day in Providence, RI on Saturday, April 10. With not a cloud in the sky and the promise of a warm 70 degrees, Providence College students began to spill out of their dorm rooms and off-campus houses to enjoy the weather. Ignoring social distancing, mask mandates, and other COVID-19 protocols, many Friars on Eaton Street and in the surrounding area gathered in parking lots and on the balconies of off-campus houses in large numbers. 

As videos, pictures, and other forms of evidence began to surface of the parties occurring throughout the day, students and others began to respond in outrage. 

The Instagram account @BlackatPC has posted several responses from students of different class years in response to the partying. One student from the Class of ’24 stated, “I get it, people are going to throw parties, but of that capacity… just blows my mind… this same thing happened last semester: it got warm, ignorant people threw a huge party, and we were put in lockdown.” This statement provides context to the extent of the party that occurred behind the houses on Eaton Street. 

Someone also commented on the fact that these kinds of large parties not only affect the PC community, but also the surrounding residents, many of whom are BIPOC. “It’s evident that Providence College is a PWI occupied by primarily selfish, privileged students with healthcare. The lack of consideration for others is quite terrifying,” said one student from the Class of ’23.

On Monday, April 12, President Father Kenneth Sicard, O.P., released a statement in response to Saturday’s events. Fr. Sicard stated, “I am concerned that [these behaviors and parties] have done damage to the reputation of the College and to your reputation as Friars. I know that you are better than this.” 

Fr. Sicard continued, saying there were also reports of vandalism and other reckless behavior that endangered PC students and the larger community. He asked the PC community to continue following guidelines, saying, “Despite the progress being made through vaccinations, we are not yet out of the woods…As we approach the end of the semester and prepare to celebrate graduation, I am imploring you to keep each other safe and to avoid a recurrence of this past weekend.”

While Fr. Sicard’s message showed some concern, many members of the PC community were unsatisfied by the lack of measures taken by the College to hold students accountable for their actions. On Wednesday, April 14, Steven Sears, vice president of student affairs and dean of students, sent an email inviting off-campus students to a conversation to address concerns. “My intention for this virtual gathering is twofold,” said Sears. “For us to address and review what took place [and] to work together to identify, imagine, and construct a plan to which we can commit together that meets your needs for living off campus while centering safety and community.”

The meeting had 113 attendees: 109 off-campus students, along with Sears; Martin Connell, director of community standards; Lieutenant John Dunbar, crime prevention/community relations officer; and Eric Croce, interim chief of Public Safety.

There were several issues and questions addressed at the Zoom meeting, including discussions about the Providence Police Department’s role in monitoring off-campus residences, the consequences for students in violation of the code of conduct, and the role of on-campus students trespassing on off-campus students’ properties.

Connell addressed the fact that 1,700 COVID-19 violations have been reported since the fall. These cases have been from reports both on and off campus, resulting in suspensions and other disciplinary actions. 

Off-campus students complained that part of the reason for the large size of the “darty” on Saturday was because of on-campus students coming uninvited, refusing to leave, and becoming violent when told to. In response to this, Dunbar and Croce recommended that off-campus students who feel threatened and disrespected by on-campus students refusing to leave should call Providence Police or PC Security. 

Sears also stated that a message will be sent to on-campus students in the next few days, making it explicitly clear that they are not welcomed off campus if not invited and could face disciplinary action if found violating this. 

As the weather continues to get nicer, and more students get vaccinated, it is evident that all students, both on and off-campus, must recommit themselves to following COVID protocols in order to see a successful completion of this semester and an in-person graduation. 

 

Embracing the Entrepreneurial Spirit: PC Students Win Big East Startup Challenge

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


Campus


Friars Jacqueline Ryan ’21, Faith Linscott ’21, and Owen Delaney ’22 took home first prize. Photo courtesy of Providence College.

by Hannah Langley ’21

News Co-Editor

Each year, students from Providence College and other schools within the Big East Conference are invited to participate in the Big East Startup Challenge, in which students can create teams to propose product ideas to an experienced panel of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and Big East alumni. 

 After competing against 10 other teams, PC students Jacqueline Ryan ’21, Owen Delaney ’22, and Faith Linscott ’21 took home the first-place prize for “UMeal,” an app that allows college students to create their own meal kits at their dining halls based on their preferences. Students can then pick up these kits to make their own meals back in their dorms, suites, apartments, or homes. 

Delaney, a finance major and co-president of the entrepreneurship society, began developing UMeal with three other students during last year’s Big East Startup Challenge, but he and his teammates were never able to complete their idea. As Delaney explained, last year’s competition was cut short because of COVID-19, but he partnered with Linscott and Ryan this year to complete the work he and his previous teammates started. “Although my teammates from last year were unable to return,” Delaney explained, “I was lucky enough to be paired with Faith Linscott and Jackie Ryan and we worked great together.”

Linscott, a psychology major, and Ryan, a history major, both have business and innovation minors, which is how they got involved with the challenge. Students with the business and innovation minor at PC are required to take a capstone their senior year in which they use their skill sets to make a mock entrepreneurial business, making this challenge a great fit for Linscott and Ryan. “I loved working on UMeal because I felt like a real entrepreneur,” said Ryan. 

Their capstone professor, Dr. Eric Sung, associate professor of photography and director of the minor, recommended the two take on this project with Delaney. Megan A. Chang, assistant professor of voice and diction in the department of theatre, dance, and film; Rebeka Mazzone, a member of the adjunct faculty in finance; Dr. Kathleen A. Cornely, professor of chemistry and biochemistry; and alumni Paul Bachman ’90, Mark Ruggeri ’93, and Christopher Walker ’86 were also involved with the group in various ways. 

For the competition, the students developed a prototype for the UMeal app and created a five-minute video about the product, which was then judged by a panel of professionals. With the help of Providence College Television, the group was able to create what they considered to be a fantastic video. “We were extremely lucky to have PCTV join us and help us create an incredible video,” said Delaney. “They took our ideas and script and turned it into a piece of art.”

The team had a great time working on this project together, saying that they learned a lot through the process. “Participating in the competition was fun and educational,” said Linscott. “A key takeaway from the competition is that it takes a cohesive team effort to create a presentation to be proud of; I am happy about all the hard work everybody put in and proud of the result.

Delaney also commented that despite many obstacles along the way, the team was able to persevere. “During the crucial weeks leading up to the competition, me and Jackie both got COVID-19,” he said. “However, we persevered and were able to get a lot done over our Zoom meetings and do some filming on our own in quarantine.”

Delaney also hopes that this competition will inspire others, like himself, who have an interest in entrepreneurship. “I hope that winning this competition inspired other people just like me to continue your passion of entrepreneurship even if it is not what you officially study in school,” he said. 

The teammates thanked one another, their faculty advisors, PCTV, alumni mentors, and all others who helped them in the process. “I believe that we were so successful because of the support we received from such passionate people,” said Ryan. 

The team hopes that this is not the end for UMeal, and they are excited to see what the future holds for their startup.  

 

Looking Back on BLM One Year Later: Recent News on Breonna Taylor and George Floyd’s Families

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


National and Global News


Outrage over the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have caused widespread protests. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.org

by Hannah Langley ’21

News Co-Editor

On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman from Louisville, KY, was shot and killed by police officers while asleep in bed. Taylor’s death, along with the deaths of other Black people, such as George Floyd in May 2020, contributed to the Black Lives Matter movement protests against racial injustice and police violence that swept through the country in the spring and summer of 2020.   

Taylor’s family is still waiting for the police officers who killed Taylor to be held accountable. Her mother, Tamika Palmer, has been fighting for the past year for charges to be brought against the men who killed her daughter. 

While Palmer has not seen any actions taken yet, she says she will not give up. “I’m still out here, I’m still doing what I need to do to get justice for Breonna to make sure that people do right by her,” Palmer said in an interview with CNN. 

Palmer has recently filed internal affairs complaints with the Louisville Metro Police Department in the hopes that the three men who raided Taylor’s home a year ago will be held accountable for what they did. “These internal affairs complaints,” Palmer’s attorney said, “were filed to get answers, explanations and accountability.”

In other news, nearly one year after Taylor’s passing, the family of George Floyd received a settlement from the city of Minneapolis, MN for $27 million on March 12. 

Floyd’s family members, including his brother Philonise and sister Bridgett, commented on the settlement. His brother thanked the city of Minneapolis, saying, “I know that [George is] with us, and he’s standing up, right now, knowing that we have the opportunity to be able to fund low-income, African American communities.” 

In addition to the settlement, there have been developments in the trial against Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed Floyd. A jury was in the process of being selected for Chauvin’s trial several weeks ago; however, on March 15, Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s defense attorney, called for a delay in the trial because of the city’s settlement with Floyd’s family. Nelson asked the judge to consider a change-of-venue motion, believing the settlement will create a more biased jury pool from the city’s residents. 

According to CNN, Nelson asked that the jurors already selected “at least” be called back to see if they had heard the news and could remain impartial. 

Nelson stated that the announcement of the settlement during the middle of Chauvin’s trial was “disturbing to the defense” and criticized the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey. 

According to The Washington Post, Judge Peter A. Cahill has said he will take the defense motions into consideration while proceeding with the jury selection and has also agreed to call back the current jurors closer to March 29 when the trial begins. 

COVID Cases Begin to Fall Following Campus Outbreak: Situation Temporarily Looking up for the Ocean State

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


Campus


Restrictions on PC’s campus begin to ease up as cases consistently decline. Hannah Langley ’21/THECOWL.

by Hannah Langley ’21

News Co-Editor

For almost a year, COVID-19 has affected everyone in a variety of ways. Although the virus is still very much present, cases in Rhode Island have been dropping in recent weeks as more  people are getting vaccinated. Cases at Providence College have also been dropping, which is a good sign moving forward in this semester.

Over the past several months, nearly 300,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Rhode Island. The percentage of positive cases in the state has also been steadily declining, dropping from a positivity rate of 7.4 percent to 2.1 percent currently.  

Government officials in Rhode Island are divided on  whether the vaccine rollout is going smoothly or not. Governor Gina Raimondo argues that their strategy has been going well, targeting the state’s most vulnerable populations first and now transitioning to broader immunization. “The overall picture, as it relates to us, is that we’re in a good and stable place.”

Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee disagrees, however, saying, “Like most Rhode Islanders, I am not satisfied with the current administration’s progress on vaccine distribution, especially as we see our neighbors in Connecticut ranked among the top in the nation.” Vaccine rollout will continue under the direction of McKee following Raimondo’s departure to Washington, D.C., where she will be assuming the position of commerce secretary.

The PC community has also seen some success in recent weeks in combating the spread. During the week of Feb. 4, the College experienced a small outbreak with around 130 cases in a matter of five days. This forced the administration to set up temporary measures around campus, such as restricting non-essential travel, closing club offices, and making only to-go dining options available.

This past week, however, cases have been steadily decreasing, with only three positive cases reported on Thursday, Feb. 25 and five positive cases reported last Friday, Feb. 26. 

On Friday, the Continuity Task Force sent an email listing a number of lifted restrictions, including the opening of in-person dining on campus; the ability to begin student teaching, practicums, and other placements again; extension of the Concannon Fitness Center’s hours; and 40 percent capacity of St. Dominic Chapel.

“Our sincerest hope is that this is just the beginning of our transition toward more opportunities for our students—and others in our community—to better enjoy more of the wonderful aspects of life on a campus,” stated the email. “The College is committed to trying to create more opportunities for socialization and collaboration, but the first responsibility is for health and safety. Our best bet is to redouble our collective commitment to doing all the things that we know are effective—especially avoiding large gatherings—so that our COVID-19 cases continue to decline.”

Dean Steven Sears, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, also sent an email that night, reiterating the email sent by the task force earlier. Sears’ email included the prospect of many other positive changes that could be occurring on-campus in the coming weeks, including attendance at outdoor sports games, visitation at other residence halls, more intramural opportunities, and the reopening of McPhail’s.

While these are just goals for what is to come during the remainder of this semester if case positivity rates remain low, it was a hopeful message to the PC community.

In Memoriam: William R. Davis

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


In Memoriam


 

William Davis’s legacy is survived on campus through the residence hall that bears his name.
Photo courtesy of Providence College.

by Hannah Langley ’21

News Co-Editor

As members of the Providence College community, we all know Davis Hall. Whether you have personally lived there or not, the residence hall is one of the first buildings you see when entering campus from the Huxley Gate, making it a notable landmark for many. 

On Tuesday, Feb. 9, William R. Davis, Esq.’52, ’91Hon. passed away peacefully in his home at the age of 90. In addition to being the namesake of a building on campus, Davis had a rich history with the College. 

Growing up in Connecticut, Davis attended Weaver High School before coming to PC in 1948. Davis graduated magna cum laude from PC, was a platinum Torch Bearer in the 1917 Society, and was also a member of the Harkins Society. 

Following his graduation from PC, he went to the University of Connecticut School of Law and received his law degree in 1955. He then partnered with Attorney Leon RisCassi to form their firm, RisCassi & Davis, in Hartford, CT, where he worked for 65 years. 

Davis gave back to the College in several ways. In 1985, he and his late wife, Doris O. Davis, established the William & Doris Davis Scholarship Fund to aid incoming PC students from Hartford who needed financial assistance. He served on the board of trustees for the College from 1992-2002, as well as on the PC Corporation. In 1994, Davis Hall was dedicated in his and his wife’s name in recognition of their long-standing support of the College. 

Davis is remembered by those who knew him as humble, kind, compassionate, charitable, and helpful, among other virtues. He had a deep love and appreciation for baseball and football, as he was an athlete himself, running and walking numerous marathons. He was considered to be a mentor, true gentleman, great lawyer, and friend to all who knew him. 

Mr. Davis is survived by his son, Russell J. Davis, and daughter-in-law, Susan, as well as four stepchildren, eight grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and several nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was predeceased by his wives Doris O. Davis and Joanne Gleason, and by his two daughters Carolyn Davis ’79 and Alyce Davis Knapp. 

A walk-through wake was held at the Molloy Funeral Home in West Hartford, CT on Monday, Feb. 15 from 4–7 p.m., where friends and family paid their respects while socially distanced. A Mass of Christian Burial was held the following morning at 10 a.m. at the Church of St. Timothy in West Hartford, CT, as well.