Practicing Communication and Trust On Campus
by Sarah McLaughlin '23 on April 20, 2023
A key part of what makes a community is building a bond of trust and communication. In general, the Providence College student body would agree that these things are important for fostering a healthy “Friar Family.” Many students have expressed concerns regarding the communication we receive regarding incidents that occur on campus. When students hear about on-campus incidents from rumors and social media prior to hearing from official sources—or in place of them entirely—we foster an environment of gossip, misinformation, and mistrust.
One example of students’ lack of knowledge is when fire alarms go off in dorm buildings. Often, these are fire drills, and at the beginning of the year, public safety officers meet with students outside to inform them of the safety and evacuation protocols. However, when the fire alarm goes off later on in the year, students are seemingly never informed of whether these instances are drills, someone pulling the alarm, or actual emergencies. “The fire alarm went off at 3 a.m. one night in Davis when it was below freezing, and we all had to evacuate, and we still have yet to learn why this happened,” one student recounted. This lack of information is what causes rumors to spread.
Regarding the incident which occurred off-campus on April 1, students received the information published by the College in an email, which reflects the press release The Cowl included in this week’s issue. This email was sent at 3:58 p.m., while the incident occurred in the morning, as this is when students noticed police activity on-campus. Students were not informed of what happened on-campus, only that an off-campus incident occurred, which fostered more confusion in an already confusing situation. Prior to finding out the name of the student involved by reading news articles, students took to social media to speculate. Names were thrown around which turned out to be completely incorrect. The fact that some students had to face these random accusations and gossip is the fault of both the students for jumping to conclusions instead of waiting for information and of the College for not sending timely updates on the situation.
One member of The Cowl’s editorial board spoke on the matter: “When it involves the safety of the Providence College community, we have the right to be informed of what’s going on. There’s not an efficient system and way of doing that—finding out hours after something happened is unacceptable.” The Cowl hopes we can speak on behalf of the student body when we say that we hope the College will consider our concerns.
Why Fanfiction Matters
by Meghan Mitchell '23 on April 20, 2023
Fanfiction is a strange topic. When mentioning it, you’re bound to be met with a wide range of reactions, from “You write fanfiction too?” to “You mean that nerdy fiction that tweens write?” As someone who has been in the fanfiction community for quite a while, I have seen my fair share of both well-written stories with in-depth characters and vivid world-building… and fiction that reads like it was written by twelve-year-olds who forgot spell check exists. Regardless, even the worst writers improve as they age, honing their writing skills and eventually creating something worth hyper-fixating on. However, despite the harmless fun of writing about characters of certain fandoms, many people still disregard fanfiction as a childish hobby. What these people fail to realize is that fanfiction does matter, for a variety of reasons.
The first is fan interaction. It seems like certain fandoms such as Harry Potter, Supernatural, and even Twilight just won’t die despite their stories concluding years ago. That is mainly due to the number of dedicated fans still writing and reading about these characters. While the stories aren’t written by the authors of the original source material, fan interpretations can either be a refreshing look at a character or be so similar to the author’s work that it’s hard to tell the difference. Just because the main story is over doesn’t mean it has to stop for readers. In addition, fanfiction can be used as a creative outlet and allow people to become better writers.
Writing can also be therapeutic. Sometimes people will write a character with whom they feel a connection in a situation similar to one that they are currently experiencing, to better cope with the event. This is an example of what someone would call a comfort character. As strange as it may sound, doing this can be a real benefit to people as it helps them feel less alone in whatever situation they are facing.
The last issue is the judgment fanfiction writers face. Fanfiction writers get called childish or face mocking because of the stereotype of it being something only tween girls do. To this, I ask: why do people care so much about what someone does in their free time? There are worse things people can do than writing stories about fictional characters. It’s also not like fanfiction is anything new; some classic literary works we read in Civ, such as Dante’s Inferno, could be considered fanfiction. It keeps people creative, and some of the best storytellers of the modern era got their start by writing fanfiction. It allows people to connect and form bonds in ways they wouldn’t be able to normally. It’s an experience unlike any other, and instead of being scorned, it should be encouraged to allow people to dream and be creative with the characters they love.