Tangents and Tirades

by jmccoy3 on April 21, 2022


Why Do We Move Our College Stuff out for the Summer?  

Ashley Seldon ’24

Earlier this week, a college girl posted a TikTok poking fun at her father, who asked her if she could call her school and move her items into her new housing before the summer break. College students understand that this is not how move-out day works and that once the end of the semester hits, it is a hassle to pack everything back up and load it into the car. However, everyone in the comment section of this TikTok mentioned that their fathers had said the same thing, as dads certainly dread the toil of moving boxes up and down flights of stairs on move-out day. These dads may be on to something. It seems like it would make more sense if upperclassmen were permitted to move their items into their new suite or apartment at the end of the semester in preparation for the next term. When they return in August, all they would have to bring is their clothes, toiletries, and groceries, rather than packing up their entire college lives and attempting to stuff them in an empty closet at home for three months. There are arguments that the dorms need to be cleaned over the summer, but on move-in day, the rooms are remain dusty and have marked-up floors, presumably from the year before. It could be left to both the incoming and outgoing students to clean their dorms. Providence College could have each class “move out” and move their belongings in bins to their new housing on campus at the end of the spring semester. It could start with rising seniors and end with sophomores so that the upperclassmen will already be moved out before the underclassmen take their rooms.


The TikTok Trend We All Need

By Julia McCoy ’22

If approached with the question, “Do you believe in feminism?” or “What are your thoughts on systemic racism?” would you be able to quickly have an informed answer? These questions are now more frequently asked thanks to TikTok. Despite its marketing as an entertainment application, TikTok does sometimes offer educational information. More so than just a video explaining what these things may be, students at Brigham Young University use the app as a way to highlight disparities in education, specifically on topics like social issues and history. 

One group that appears to be gaining popularity recently is “The Black Menaces,” students of color at Brigham Young University who ask their peers questions about race, gender, and sexuality. There are opinion-based questions, like “do you think women should always be stay at home moms?” or “do you support Blue Lives Matter”, which capture the students’ thoughts about hot button issues. In other videos, the students show a picture of a historic Black figure, like Coretta Scott King or Malcolm X, and ask if the students can identify them. Students offer a variety of answers for each type of question, with shockingly underwhelming results for those fact-based questions. 

Essentially, the goal of this page is to point out that there is a distinct difference in the education of students at Brigham Young University and those at countless other schools across the country. Students can likely identify well-known figures like Rosa Parks, but not many others. When answering opinion-based questions about feminism and systemic racism, students often deflect, admitting that they need “more information” or “to do more research” on a topic.

Overall, there is a glaring issue in what young people know regarding race, gender, and sexuality. The importance of doing “research” is evident as students are left dumbfounded by rather basic social questions. So, in case this trend circulates at other schools—and just for the sake of knowing more about the world around you—start thinking about your own stance on these social issues. 


Spontaneous Senior Year

by jmccoy3 on April 21, 2022


Spontaneous Senior Year

Julia McCoy ’22

Calendar notifications. Emails. Schedule planning. Applying for jobs. Oftentimes, college students are always focused on what is coming next and what they need to be planning for their future. While this is certainly important and leads to success after graduation, there is also a need for students to remember to take advantage of some of the more fun opportunities that come about in their four years here. 

The best way to do that? Be spontaneous!

Two weeks ago, after the Providence College Men’s Basketball Team made it to the Sweet 16, a number of students made the decision to go to Chicago to cheer the team on. Trips were booked on Saturday or Sunday night for a game that was happening the following Friday. With little turn-around time, students had to jump at the opportunity to go. Although the team did not win their game against Kansas, students who went were excited to have made the trip to watch PC’s first Sweet 16 appearance in 25 years. 

Obviously this is an extreme example and one that is not feasible for every student. But that does not mean that spontaneity is not an option for everyone. It can be as simple as going to or ordering food from Thayer Street for dinner on a Tuesday night or randomly going out for ice cream after a test. Even just deciding to take a walk off campus or sitting on Slavin Lawn when it is sunny out can be a nice break in the day. Overall, the importance of spontaneous decisions is that they do not require any premeditated plans. 

For seniors especially, there exists an interesting tension in the final semester of college. Yes, you are planning out your next steps after graduation and thinking of what to do after college, but you are also trying to take in the few months that you have left at PC. The ephemerality of senior year will become overwhelming if you are too busy focusing on how little time you have left. As cliché as it may sound, living in the moment is the best way to handle these fears of not having enough time left. 

There is of course Senior Week to look forward to, and having a plan of events for our final week on campus will help students feel like they are making the most of the time that is left. However, in those last few weeks of the semester, try and take in all that you can with friends at PC. Whether it is a quick walk to LaSalle Bakery or going to your last few events in McPhail’s, being spontaneous is bound to create lasting memories that will be exciting to look back on. 

In the past two years, so many things have been canceled or changed that people seem to be putting a lot of pressure on making things perfect when they finally do happen. Oftentimes, that can lead to a sense of restlessness and anxiety. Instead, as we look to enjoy a continually reopening world, the best moments can be found in quick, spontaneous trips. 

A Rebrand for the Ages

by jmccoy3 on March 24, 2022


A Rebrand for the Ages

How Abercrombie has Become an Inclusive Brand

Julia McCoy ’22

Any young woman in their late teens or early twenties in 2022 can easily recall a former favorite pastime: walking around the mall with friends. In the early 2010s, around the same time that Starbucks frappuccinos and frozen yogurt shops were having their renaissance, shopping malls were a popular reprieve for young people looking for something to do on a Friday night. 

What happened during this time? Girls would walk around stores with their friends, looking for the items to spend their weekly allowance or even their first wages on. They would browse stores catered to their age group like Hollister, American Eagle, and Abercrombie & Fitch. As a result, trips to the mall would impress upon girls how they should look, act, and feel about themselves. 

In 2013, Abercrombie unabashedly promoted its brand towards “skinny” people. An Insider article from 2013 titled “Abercrombie & Fitch Refuses To Make Clothes for Large Women” begins by saying, “Teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t stock XL or XXL sizes in women’s clothing because they don’t want overweight women wearing their brand.” There was a clear stigma against women of a certain size, and it caused many to rethink how they looked —always wanting to fit the cool Abercrombie brand. 

Men’s clothes at the same time, on the other hand, were available in all sizes, including XL and XXL. The same Insider article suggests that this could be to draw in muscular football players and other “athletic” body types that are desirable in men, but certainly not in women at the time. 

It was a dangerous combination, especially when marketed towards young women: in order to be cool and to fit in with your friends that you shop with, you must be thin. Models were thin, larger sizes were not available, and there was no space for young women who did not fit this unhealthy type. In the times before plus-sized models and eating disorder awareness on a wide scale, retail culture threatened women’s mental health with little to no repercussions. 

Now, however, TikTok is flooded with “Abercrombie Try-On Hauls,” in which women of all sizes excitedly open up Abercrombie packages—either purchased or sent through influencer PR deals—and try on the brand’s clothes. On their website, denim is now sold up to a size 37 and boasts styles like “Curve Love” which highlights curvier body types and provides a better fit. Models no longer represent a stereotyped, skinny, white society that the company formerly idealized, but rather introduces models of all shapes, sizes, and races. 

So, what caused this change? How did a company evolve from messaging like “we won’t sell above a size ten” to a store that all women feel comfortable shopping in?

In short, those same women who were influenced by this unhealthy messaging a decade ago are now trailblazers of a new mindset, one of inclusion and body positivity. Platforms like Instagram and TikTok have become safe havens for conversations about mental health, eating disorders, and body image issues, and women have become far more comfortable talking about these things in public. With that messaging being brought into society, there has been a rejection of the former “perfection” guidelines within modeling and retail culture. 

Credit is due to Abercrombie for its ability to adapt to the changes in society and to make up for the issues that it has made in the past. There are still plenty of companies out there that have yet to make this change. One, for instance, is Brandy Melville, a company that boasts its “one size fits most” brand. That “most” does not include a number of bodies, and therefore stigmatizes people who do not fit into their small t-shirts or skirts. 

Powerful women have brought our country to this change. They are powerful not because they reject the society that they live in, but because they find ways to empower themselves in spite of the issues that society offers. With the continuation of this powerful positive energy through platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and even everyday conversation, there is hope that society will continue to move in a positive direction. There is hope that young girls shopping in the mall will feel happy, regardless of what they may look like. 

Popular Vote or Popular Culture?

by jmccoy3 on January 27, 2022


Popular Vote or Popular Culture?

How Being a “Fan” of Politicians has Affected US Citizens

By Julia McCoy


January 2022 marks one year since the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. was stormed by insurrectionists who operated under the guise of patriotism. On Jan. 6, 2021, thousands swarmed the historic building in hopes of “stopping the steal” of the 2020 presidential election, in which President Joe Biden was ultimately elected. 

The people in that crowd, whether explicitly emboldened by his words or not, were loyalists of former President Donald Trump who wanted to hold his presidency for a second term. Many risked jail and a loss of life to protect a politician they were loyal to. 

In this decade, it has become increasingly popular to consider oneself a “fan” of a politician, even if those labels are not said aloud. Candidates in elections across all parties sell 

merchandise and aspire to amass large followings on Twitter and other social media platforms. But why? This was certainly not the case in the country’s history. 

Whether it is Donald Trump’s famed “Make America Great Again,” or President Biden’s apparent response, “We Just Did,” the country has polarized itself not only in the ballot box, but also in an inescapably societal manner. People are wearing items of clothing that indicate their party preference, far more than just a simple color or donkey symbol. What has happened as a response is a catastrophic divide amongst citizens that makes us question if we are capable of maintaining relationships without bringing up the topic of politics. 

Not only does this interesting situation push the parties further apart, but it also reaffirms the bipartisan dynamic that the United States has established in a powerful way. Those who do not feel they agree strongly with either candidate may feel lost in a sea of their loyal fans and ultimately be persuaded to choose one of the two. A country of fans does not bode well for those trying to introduce the rise of a lesser-known party. 

Fundamentally, it is important that the country remembers that elections are a process in which we are hiring someone. The president, or an elected official at any level, is essentially an employee of the people that should be willing to listen to the voices of the people. They are paid through our tax dollars and their occupation’s fate rests in the hands of our vote. By emboldening these men and women through excessive fanfare and glorifying their actions, politicians may feel more powerful and less likely to respond to the requests of their constituents. 

In a New York Times essay titled “How Fan Culture is Swallowing Democracy,” Amanda Hess writes, “We are witnessing a great convergence between politics and culture, values and aesthetics, citizenship and commercialism.” With the increased popularity of social media platforms as a way to primarily consume media, citizens run the risk of introducing the same fanfare they would give to their favorite music artist or actor to a politician. And politicians, through tweets of their own and personal merch, are not against the idea of their increased presence in pop culture. 

When does it end? We have seen two presidents tweet promises about the end of a pandemic. We have seen presidential candidates lean into their popularity on social media. We have seen citizens fight each other in the name of a politician. To reassess the situation, the country must take a step back and realize that, for the good of the people, politicians must be treated as employees of the citizens of the United States. We do not have to vote for the same people, but we certainly do not have to defend those for whom we vote to the point of risking our own lives. 

Long Live the Legacy of Taylor Swift

by The Cowl Editor on December 11, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

Long Live the Legacy of Taylor Swift

How the Artist’s Career has Already Blazed Trails for New Stars

Julia McCoy ’22

How does society judge an artist’s influence? Success is often judged not only by their accolades, but also by their ability to influence future generations of artists. That is exactly what Taylor Swift has been able to do throughout her career. Even more impressive: she’s only 31 years old (32 later this month). 

Since her debut album, Taylor Swift, hit the radio in Oct. 2006, Swift has accumulated eleven Grammy awards and become the most decorated artist in American Music Awards history. Swift has released nine studio albums and is beginning to re-record those albums that she does not yet have ownership of, with two of them already released this year. 

Something that the well-decorated artist has been aware of, however, is the possible ephemerality of her career and fame. On her re-recorded album, Red (Taylor’s Version), Swift released a song “from the Vault” featuring Phoebe Bridgers titled “Nothing New.” Originally written in 2012, it speaks to Swift’s fears of losing her “radiance” as she gets older. Listeners were quick to notice the way that these lines resonate with Swift’s career today. Swift sings that new artists will use her as inspiration: “She’ll know the way and then she’ll say she got the map from me./I’ll say I’m happy for her/ Then I’ll cry myself to sleep.” At 22, Swift clearly feared what the future might hold for her. A decade later, those stars that “got the map” from Swift are luckily also blessed with her devoted support. 

Swift’s success on the stage is only complemented by the impact that she has had on younger artists and a newer generation of music. In 2021, artists like Olivia Rodrigo, Conan Gray, and Maisie Peters are among the most prominent “Swifties” gaining their own success in the music industry. 

Rodrigo’s Sour is steeped in Swift’s influence. Her song, “1 step forward, 3 steps back,” features an interpolation of Swift’s “New Year’s Day” from reputation. After Rodrigo’s hit “driver’s license” broke records, Swift reached out as a friend and mentor to for the young artist. When sharing the iTunes charts together earlier this year, Swift commented on Rodrigo’s post, saying, “I say that’s my baby and I’m really proud,” a quote inspired by Swift’s own mother at the beginning of her career. Rodrigo now sports a ring gifted by Swift that is similar to the style that the elder singer wore while recording Red. 

When Swift lauded Gray’s song “Wish You Were Sober” on her Instagram Story, Gray responded, “I honestly feel like you raised me both as a writer and a human and I cannot express in words how much this means to me.” Rodrigo and Gray were each given an exclusive first listen to Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and were tasked with advertising the first re-recorded album on TikTok. They often identify themselves as Swift’s children, calling her “mom” because of her influence on their careers. 

Lastly, Peters is also a fan and took inspiration from Swift’s writing style this year. On July 24, 2020—the day that Swift’s folklore album was released—Peters found inspiration in Swift’s storytelling in “betty” to write her own story-like song, “Outdoor Pool.” She was able to understand through Swift that she could craft experiences based on different perspectives. 

Swift’s “Nothing New” opened her audience’s eyes to how she feels about her career and legacy. As she seamlessly moves through different creative periods, Swift’s words and work blaze a trail for generations to follow. And they’ve already started. 

Accountability for Accomplices

by The Cowl Editor on December 9, 2021


Accountability for Accomplices

Why Charges Against Oxford Shooter’s Parents Are Important

by Julia McCoy ’22

Earlier this semester I reflected on the Sandy Hook school shooting that took place on Dec. 14, 2012. Now, just days before the nine-year anniversary of that devastating moment in American history, the United States once again mourns the lives of innocent students. On Nov. 30, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, a student at Oxford High School in Michigan, opened fire and killed four of his peers, wounding several other students and faculty members. Students Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana, Madisyn Baldwin, and Justin Shilling all lost their lives. Justice must be served on their behalf. But, once again, America faces the question: how many lives need to be lost before the country starts to change its gun laws?

The posed question, unfortunately, goes nowhere. It has remained stagnant for decades. But, developments in the case of the Oxford High School shooting suggests accountability for more parties than just the suspected shooter.

Put in the most plain terms, Crumbley would not have had access to the semiautomatic handgun that he used in the shooting if it were not for his parents who purchased it for him. James and Jennifer Crumbley, Ethan’s parents, purchased the gun on Black Friday—Nov. 26—for Ethan and described it as a Christmas present in social media posts. The two enabled the teen by giving him easy access to the weapon and sensationalizing the deadly device as a Christmas present. 

The Oakland County prosecutor, Karen McDonald, discussed gun ownership in a press conference following the tragedy: “Gun ownership is a right. And with that right comes great responsibility.” She is absolutely correct. Whether you agree that American citizens should have easy access to guns or not, there is no question that gun ownership should be taken lightly. Nor is it something that should be entrusted to a 15-year-old as a Christmas present. Celebrating guns as novelty items undermines the danger that they present. 

McDonald charged both James and Jennifer Crumbley with four counts of involuntary manslaughter as they are responsible for their son possessing the weapon. She stated, “These charges are intended to hold individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable and also send a message that gun owners have a responsibility. When they fail to uphold that responsibility, there are serious and criminal consequences.”

In addition to providing their son access to deadly weapons, James and Jennifer Crumbley were also repeatedly made aware of their son’s mental health issues by the school. On Monday, Nov. 29, a teacher saw Ethan searching for ammunition online and left a voicemail for the teen’s parents. His mother’s response? “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.” She had no issue with her son looking for ammunition during his class. She did not take the teacher seriously.

The next concern occurred on the same day as the shooting. That morning, a teacher found a drawing of a handgun, bullets, blood, and a laughing emoji alongside phrases like “blood everywhere;” “the thoughts won’t stop. Help me;” and “the world is dead.” School officials called the Crumbleys to the school and discussed seeking mental health help for their son. According to The New York Times, school counselors asked about the teen’s well-being and the Crumbleys confirmed their son’s statement that he was not a threat. They did not have to take their son out of class. No one thought to check if he had concealed a weapon in his backpack that day. There seemed to be no concern for their son even with ample evidence. 

In cases where minors are able to acquire guns with easy access, officials must consider how much accountability the suspect’s guardians have in the crime. In this case, the charges are certainly reasonable, as it is clear that the Crumbleys were given plenty of reasons and opportunities to talk to their son about gun responsibility and his mental health. And they did nothing. 

The deadlock of American gun reform unfortunately suggests that this is our reality for the foreseeable future. But, with accountability like we see here, there is at least an awareness of the magnitude of involvement and complicity in a mass shooting of this nature. 

The Language of Legal Cases

by The Cowl Editor on November 4, 2021


The Language of Legal Cases

Kyle Rittenhouse’s Case Causes Controversy Over Language Decision

by Julia McCoy ’22

In August 2020, Kyle Rittenhouse—a then seventeen year-old from Illinois—crossed state borders to Wisconsin, armed, and fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber while also injuring Gaige Grosskreutz. Rittenhouse went to Wisconsin because of protests that were happening in Kenosha after Jacob Blake was shot and injured by the police. The city was uprooted after nights of protest. Streams of gun-owning citizens took it upon themselves to go to Kenosha and use their own force against the protesters. The teenage Rittenhouse was among these forces. He was seen carrying an AR-15 rifle that was eventually used to shoot the three men. Following the incident, Rittenhouse has been charged with first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree intentional homicide, and a few other similar charges, adding to six charges in total. 

But before his murder trial begins on Nov. 1, Rittenhouse is already receiving help from members of the justice system. 

This past week, while laying the “ground rules” for the trial, Judge Bruce Schroeder said that the words “victim” or “alleged victim” would be prohibited throughout the trial. Thus, the prosecutors will be forced to refer to these victims as “complaining witness” or “decedent” in the courtroom. National Public Radio explains that this is not the first time this has occurred; it is sometimes customary to prohibit the word “victim” because it presupposes the guilt of the defendant. Knowing the phrase “innocent until proven guilty,” there is some rationale behind why the term victim might lead to a more biased understanding of things in a courtroom. 

If neutral words were being promoted across the board and biased language was completely removed from the trial, that would be understandable. Clearly these men are victims of some crime, but right now, Rittenhouse is still claiming self-defense, so the language might hinder his argument. However, this decision does not seem to be inclined towards neutrality. No, the words “victim” and “alleged victim” cannot be used, but “arsonists,” “looters,” and “rioters” are fair game. Surely an unbiased proclivity is out of the question after this decision comes to light. 

How is it that the term “victim” carries enough weight to threaten the case against a defendant, but “looter” and “rioter” are not enough to persuade the minds of the jury in favor of the defendant? If an unbiased stance is being taken on one side of the trial, it must be done in the same way for the other. A trial that stands on these grounds is not nearly as just as one that either allows for all words to be used or sets the same standards of objectivity for both the prosecution and the defense. 

With these overtly biased terms afforded to them, Rittenhouse’s defense is essentially being set up for success. His lawyers can use these terms in their defense against men who are no longer alive because of Rittenhouse’s actions. 

Schroeder, in defense of his decision, said, “Let the evidence show what the evidence shows, and if the evidence shows that any or more than one of these people were engaged in arson, rioting, or looting — then I’m not going to tell the defense they can’t call them that.”

The prosecutor argued that even if the evidence did prove that these three men had engaged in looting or rioting, it was not these actions that immediately caused Rittenhouse to shoot them. As such, the use of those descriptive words is irrelevant and only helps to bolster the case of the defense. 

A fair trial cannot stand until the language of the court has some semblance of justice and equality among both sides. There is a double standard inherent in this decision that grants the defense with far more flexibility in their case. If nothing changes in this decision, the decision of the trial will always be coupled with the lingering questions of how the language may have affected the way it played out. 

If it is supposed to be justice for all, shouldn’t the language of the court reflect that?

Getting to Know the Creative Capital

by The Cowl Editor on October 7, 2021


Getting to Know the Creative Capital

Taking Advantage of Providence’s Rich Artistic Culture

by Julia McCoy ’22

Providence is often dubbed “The Creative Capital,” giving the relatively small city something to brag about. But how often do we, as students living in the city, interact with art? Or, rather, how often do we notice that there is art all around us? 

There are many ways that Providence College students can choose to interact with art, whether on campus or in the city, and it is certainly encouraged throughout the school. The Board of Programmers has sponsored trips to the Providence Performing Arts Center in the past, and students are offered discounted tickets to take part in the trip. 

Students are also given free passes to the Rhode Island School of Design Museum with  their PC ID cards, which is often overlooked by most students, if they are even aware of it. If they are lucky, their professors will incorporate a trip into their course or encourage students to go for extra credit, but otherwise, it is often gone unnoticed in students’ careers here. 

Whether it is for a project or just a fun way to fill a Saturday afternoon, the RISD Museum is truly a hidden gem in Providence and a way to explore art right outside our campus. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken away so many opportunities to explore, whether locally or globally, so why not take advantage of what we have at our fingertips now that things are open again? 

PC also offers galleries in Hunt-Cavanaugh and Smith Halls, displaying different shows each year. Oftentimes speakers are invited to the school to discuss their pieces and engage with students further. Even just a stroll through these galleries is certainly worthwhile. 

But art is not limited to the museum, theater, or gallery. Being in the Creative Capital, you are bound to see art around every corner. There are murals on every available brick wall in the city, making an everyday stroll downtown much better. The Providence Flea Market hosts local artists and designers each Sunday to present and sell their products. If we do not constrict ourselves to thinking about art as belonging only in specialized buildings, separated from the community to be in a focused area, we are bound to see it far more often in our daily lives.

Even our own campus is full of art in places you would not expect. Walking to a class in the Ruane Center for the Humanities, students are not often thinking about much besides upcoming assignments and homework. But, it would be worthwhile to look up from our phones every once in a while to see all the work that PC puts into the campus.

All throughout Ruane visitors will notice reproductions of famous work, including Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” and even some original pieces from students and faculty. The artwork notably relates back to the Development of Western Civilization program; whether it’s an image  discussed in a class or something that relates to the program, students will understand the context of these pieces if they take a moment to notice. The building itself, with the stained glass window in the Fiondella Great Room and the gorgeous exterior, transport students to a different era upon entry. PC carefully crafted its building to reflect the learning that’s done inside. 

It is not something we think about often, but engaging with art in our community, whether on campus or in the city, is a great way to stay connected to the culture around us. Art can be anything from a drawing on the sidewalk to a Picasso in the RISD museum; if you do not limit the possibilities of what it can be, you will see its value far more frequently.

Women Wanted: $10,000 Reward

by The Cowl Editor on September 23, 2021


Women Wanted: $10,000 Reward

Texas Senate Bill 8 Sets a Dangerous New Precedent


By Julia McCoy ’22 & Madeline Morkin ’22


Texas Senate Bill 8 came into effect on Sept. 1, 2021 and quickly drew headlines as one of the most restrictive “heartbeat bills” the country has ever seen. This bill’s draconian assertions far exceed the traditional abortion debates that we often discuss. Going beyond just defining life at the detection of a heartbeat, this bill seeks to encourage vigilantism, hatred against, and criminalization of women and those who support them in their endeavours to have an abortion. 

The prohibition of a woman to terminate a pregnancy after just six weeks becomes an issue when considering that even a birth control pill taken flawlessly and consistently will still inevitably fail 1-2 percent of the time. Additionally, 45-49 percent of pregnancies are unplanned. So, the new Texas abortion law expects women to make life-altering decisions in a six-week period that many are unaware they have even begun. 

The Texas law covertly argues that women are incapable of making decisions for themselves by themselves. A woman’s choice is not considered at any point in this bill; not even whether or not she chose to engage in sexual relations. Texas’ new law bans abortion regardless of how a woman becomes pregnant. This means that a victim of rape or incest is going to be forced to carry the child to term, which could have significant impacts on her physical and mental health. So, even in cases where a woman might not consent to sex, she will be forced to carry and birth the child of her abuser.

What has led Texas to make such decisions about victims of rape? In a statement after the bill was passed, Governor Greg Abbott assured his constituents that Texas was doing everything in their power to “eliminate rape.” A valiant cause, no doubt, but certainly not an issue that can be solved overnight or by preventing women from getting an abortion as a result of rape. By saying this, governor Abbott undermines the difficulties that many rape survivors face in trying to hold their assaulter accountable. 

The Department of Public Safety in Texas accounts for just under 15,000 reports of rape in the year 2019, with only 2,200 people arrested for rape in the same year. Given the staggering discrepancy in these numbers, the question arises: how can Governor Abbott rid his state of rape if its existence has never been approached vigilantly? If there was a feasible way for rape to be altogether eliminated in our society, it would be welcomed. But until it is, it seems wrong to deny women the resources they may need to deal with the effects of sexual assault. 

The only circumstances in which a woman will be allowed to terminate her pregnancy in Texas are in the cases that it could “endanger the mother’s life or lead to ‘substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.’” Thus, women will need to prove that their lives are on the line in order to have any access to safe abortion. 

Although, in either of the previously stated special cases which have both been deemed excusable to Texas’ new abortion law, women may still be denied access to safe abortions by the subjective opinion of certain law enforcement and judicial officials—many of whom are men and will never need to make this decision for themselves. So, for the women whose “endangerment” or “substantial and irreversible impairment” are not certified as valid enough to receive legal abortions, there then also becomes a bigger likelihood that they seek unsafe or illegal means of termination of their pregnancy elsewhere. 

Additionally, SB8 puts a bounty, beginning at $10,000, directly on the head of any person getting or performing an abortion past this 6-week period. In theory, this bounty was put into place to help lighten the burden on police when they should be focused on enforcing other laws, making authorities aware of violations of the abortion ban. In reality, it pins people against each other by deputizing the citizen and introducing incentives for even the suspicion of an abortion.  This subjects pregnant women to significant abuse. Vigilantism, in general, is extremely problematic because lawful authority essentially is turned over to untrained citizens, without many guidelines. Thus, by placing the power into the hands of the people, there are bound to be some citizens – emboldened by this newfound deputism – that feel more inclined towards reward than regard for their fellow citizens. In this case, women’s private lives are put on display and in danger for a quick buck. 

If a bounty has been implemented as an incentive to protect the lives of any and all people, specifically unborn children in this case, why has it been applied to SB8 and not other crimes, like those of speeding or drinking and driving, which also have the potential of causing potential and real harm to others? In any case, legally supported vigilantism, which encourages untrained citizens to enforce laws at the expense of other citizens, is extremely dangerous territory for the U.S. 

We don’t have to conjure up an imaginary dystopian future to see what the consequences of a law of this nature could be. Authoritarian approaches to abortion laws have been dangerous to women in countries where such laws have already been implemented. In 1998, El Salvador banned abortion in its entirety and has enforced prison sentences of up to thirty-five years for women who are accused of having an abortion. This stringent policy has led to 140 women being charged in the small country. Doctors are obligated to call the police if they suspect that a woman has had an abortion. The issue with this, however, is that there is no noticeable difference between a women’s body after an abortion versus what it would look like after a miscarriage. As such, women have been imprisoned for a tragedy they could not control. Not only do they have to deal with the physical and emotional ramifications of a miscarriage, they are forced to do so in prison. The introduction of vigilantism in SB8 serves as an example of what happens when vigilantism is prioritized over a woman’s safety and health.

Despite being in effect for less than a month, individuals are already trying to reap the rewards of an illustrious $10,000 bounty. In the first case, Oscar Stilley, a disbarred attorney from Arkansas is filing a suit against Dr. Alan Braid, who publicly stated that he performed an abortion in opposition to the law. Stilley has seemingly no connection to the case itself, Dr. Braid, or the state of Texas. So, why is he filing a suit against a doctor with whom he has no prior relationship? As Irving Gorstein of the Georgetown Law Center said, “this person seems to be somebody who has no objection to abortions. He just wants to earn a bounty.” The possible ramifications of this are staggering. Will Texas courts be able to handle an onslaught of citizens – some with no relation to their state – looking to take advantage of this newfound bounty? 

Texas did a lot more than subvert the precedent set by Roe v. Wade. The state has created a culture in which neighbors are asked to turn on their neighbors and instilled a mentality that no one can feel safe in making decisions for themselves. If an Uber driver can get arrested for dropping a passenger off at a clinic, we must consider: what comes next?

“One is Too Many”

by The Cowl Editor on September 16, 2021


“One is Too Many”

Mass Shootings’ Prevalence in American School Culture

by Julia McCoy

Trigger Warning: This article contains discussion of gun violence

On December 14, 2012, there was a school shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty students and six staff members were killed in the attack with countless more affected for life. Nine years later, this is an event that most American citizens still have some recollection of. What might not come across our minds as readily is the fact that the children who were in the elementary school that day are now high school-aged. 

That means that there are twenty unoccupied lockers at Newtown High School and an entire class of students who have matured and seen virtually no change in gun control policy. 

What this reminds us is that so much time has passed since these children, who were in Kindergarten and First Grade at the time, fell victim to gun violence. Nine years have passed, and rather than milestones towards improvement, it is almost as if we have accepted this as the norm. 

No one should want an event like this to repeat. Not even once in a decade. However, in just under a decade in the United States, there have been over 2,000 mass shootings in a variety of public spaces. The events at Sandy Hook weren’t even the first catalyst of these conversations. Years before, at Columbine High School, older generations were forced into this rude awakening. We’ve gotten to a point where every generation will be able to point to a mass shooting as the moment they became aware of the dangers of sitting in a classroom. And what have we done to try and stop this? Nothing. We’ve adapted to the issue, rather than attacking it.


In the back-to-school regimen that traditionally has involved fire and tornado drills, students are now also equipped with intense active shooter training and practices at the onset of each school year. Of course, we can’t control a fire, tornado, or even a nuclear threat that students in the ‘80s were once trained to handle, but school shootings seem like a phenomenon that could have more access to mitigation than a natural disaster. Would we rather succumb to the norm than make any change?

Certainly not. At least not among teens and young adults who have been most recently impacted by these issues. At least 1.2 million people participated in the initial March for Our Lives protests after the February 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. With March for Our Lives and other organizations gaining prominence in the past few years, it seems fair to say that it is not a matter of a lack of acknowledgment, but rather an apathy and lack of reaction from those with power. 

At times, it has seemed that the most these activist groups would get from powerful organizations like the National Rifle Association (NRA) were the obligatory “thoughts and prayers” that follow every gun massacre of American citizens. But to use this article as a call to action for apathetic organizations would fall on deaf ears. Gun control policy has remained exactly the same as it was nine years ago when these students were in elementary school. 

There has yet to be meaningful change, and that can be disappointing. But what matters most is that people who are affected by these issues – whether personally or not – continue to remember and advocate for those who do not have a voice. Though governmental policy and even protocol in schools tend to treat this as a norm, it must be remembered that this is not normal. 

As Amanda Talbot ’15, whose family lived in Newtown in 2012, said in a letter to The Cowl, “twenty-six is too many – one is too many.” This is something to remember as a new school year starts.