Open Door, Open Mind

by The Cowl Editor on September 3, 2021


Open Door, Open Mind

Why PC’s Unspoken Rule Deserves Praise

By Julia McCoy ’22


How do you meet people in college?

This appears to be the question on most students’ minds as they enter into their first year of college. 

It is a universal concern, though no one is willing to talk about it aloud. 

Of course, things take time, so you are bound to meet people during your time here, but there are certainly ways that you can accelerate the process. 

Keeping your door open is the best way to do that. 

There is no written rule that students need to keep their doors open here on campus, but it has become an unwritten rule that leaving your door open promotes a welcoming and friendly atmosphere.

Living in a traditional dorm may not look like it has perks upon first glance, but it provides a great environment for first year students who are looking to make the most of their four years here at Providence College. 

No matter which freshman dorm you end up in, every student has the opportunity to reap the benefits of a close-knit community sharing a common space. 

Resident Assistants on each floor –older students who have once been in the shoes of the freshmen they now look after – should make sure that they are cultivating an environment that lends itself well to this policy, where students are excited to meet and get to know those they will be living near for the next year. 

Keeping your door open is a simple and effective way to send a signal to your floormates that you would like to get to know them better. 

It provides a view of the hallway and presents the opportunity to say hi to people as they walk by back to their own room. 

Abigail Pruchnicki ’22 is very grateful for the open-door norm on her floor freshman year. When asked why she thought it was so effective, Pruchnicki said, “the policy allows for small everyday interactions that eventually grow into longer conversations.”A simple “hello” can be a great first impression and the catalyst of conversations in the future. 

No matter where you end up living sophomore, junior, and senior year, all freshmen are going to have the same traditional dorm living experience their first year here. 

That means there are two full semesters to take advantage of the community environment that the dorms provide. 

Because of the tradition that the open-door policy has become, it is freshmen’s first introduction to the Friar Family and the ways in which we are all here for each other. 

Especially after everything that the world has gone through in the past year and a half, people are looking for a way to reconnect with each other. 

Although students will be wearing their masks inside buildings, being able to establish a connection with the people that they are seeing everyday is certainly a good way to combat any loneliness that the pandemic tries to force upon us. 

Sophomores who are living in Aquinas Hall should also take advantage of the community within their dorm building. 

After having a normal first-year experience hindered by the coronavirus, these students have another opportunity to meet more people from their grade. 

With students returning to all in-person classes, there is going to be more movement in the hallways and it is important to capitalize on this experience since it was lost last year. 

The general anxieties of all incoming freshmen coupled with the lost interactions due to the pandemic present the need for the open-door policy more prominently now than in any other year. 

We are all eager to reunite with old friends and meet new ones, so reminding ourselves of the traditions of Friar Friendliness is the best way to do that. 

Though they do not boast the amenities that a suite or apartment might have, the traditional dorms on PC’s campus offer something just as important: a community that all new students will be grateful for. 

Tangents & Tirades

by kwheele4 on May 7, 2021


More Than a Post

No one can deny that the past year has been riddled with social issues that need to be addressed by the greater population. While sharing an infographic is a great starting point to provide information to a larger audience, Instagram should not be the only avenue of education on a topic. 

Issues surrounding mental health, social justice, and gender equality are significant, and while it is promising that the younger generations are willing to have these conversations, there is so much more to a movement than what you might see on social media. That is why it is important to go beyond the app and study the issues being addressed. 

The best way to do this is through thorough research. If you are interested in an issue, make sure you can understand it from all sides, rather than one (likely biased) account on Instagram. 

Of course, posting these infographics is not necessarily harmful. In fact, they can make people aware of issues they may not have heard of before. So sharing is okay. But a person should fully read a source before sharing it to a large number of followers. Compare it to a source on an essay: would it be smart to cite something you’ve only skimmed?

Overall, staying up to date on the news is necessary. And sharing issues you are passionate about is an effective way to use social media. But remember that life and information continues outside of those apps and that it might be better to inform yourself further on more requitable sites.

Julia McCoy ’22

Making up for Lost Time

During the past two semesters of the 2020-2021 school year, Providence College students have been through it all with the COVID-19 pandemic: on-campus buildings were forced to close, strict pods were enforced, and the ability to hold both on- and off-campus social gatherings and important events became essentially impossible. 

As of late April, PC has been able to lift some of these restrictions and mandates as many students are becoming partially and fully vaccinated. 

While this school year has been undeniably unforgettable, there were also many events which could not be forgotten because they were never able to take place. So, as we near our three-month summer vacation and excitedly await the potential of a far more social return, it is important to make up for all the lost time as much as possible.

While we cannot gain back the semesters we have lost to social distancing and other unforeseen and unfortunate realities, we can set social goals and plans for the fall 2021 semester to make sure that we see the people, go to the places, and do more of what we have all literally and figuratively missed. 

By taking time to reflect on this past year and set goals over the summer vacation, we, the Friar Family, will return more united than ever, ensuring that another year will not be lost to missed opportunities. 

—Madeline Morkin ’22

Talking on the Phone Trumps Texting 

Texting has quickly grown to become one of, if not the most popular form of communication. Psychologists and other experts are even starting to study texting as a separate language, including emojis and their meanings. While texting is a quick and efficient way to get your message across, calling on the phone is a far better form of technological communication.

Some argue that talking on the phone is way more awkward and uncomfortable than texting. Teenagers especially, who grew up with this technology, would prefer to hide behind the mask of their iMessage. However, making a phone call is better because it helps the caller to practice social skills, unlike texting. 

Tone is often misunderstood in text messages, which can make things uncomfortable for both sides. A text sent with a period may seem to some to be just a simple declarative sentence, but others may view it as a passive aggressive message. In contrast, with calling on the phone, people can communicate their tone with their voices, making conversations a lot less awkward and vague. 

With phone calls, you can save voicemails from loved ones that have a much deeper meaning than text messages. The several recorded voicemails I have saved from my late grandmother are so special to me because I can hear her voice; text messages do not convey this type of deep connection. 

While texting is good for small and trite messages, calling on the phone is good for practicing social skills, which often seem lost in this technologically driven world, and hearing the voices of loved ones. 

Emily Ball ’22

Your Words Matter: Why the Labels We Use Can Be Problematic for Progress

by kwheele4 on April 22, 2021


Discriminatory labels take away from the full scope of a person’s true identity. Photo courtesy of Snappy Goat.

Your Words Matter: Why the Labels We Use Can Be Problematic for Progress

By Julia McCoy ’22

Asst. Opinion Editor


“He’s a convict.”

“Oh, she’s anorexic.” 

“He must be schizophrenic.”

These phrases are common in everyday conversation. Whether it is with friends, family, or just overheard in public, people are constantly describing others by what they have done or something they cannot control. Why should we let an illness or one thing that someone has done represent their entire identity? 

When describing someone by saying they “are” something, it implies that this characteristic is inseparable from their personality. By defining someone by their crimes or mental illnesses, it permanently reduces their character and dismisses anything else that they have done or may do in their lives. 

This is why, recently, the Marshall Project—a nonprofit journalism organization devoted to criminal justice issues—decided to avoid using terms like “convict,” “inmate,” and “felon” in their writing. In an Instagram post shared on April 13, the Marshall Project noted their “continued engagement with incarcerated readers” taught them that these terms “narrowly and permanently” define people. 

This shift is important. It shows that media outlets are beginning to listen to all of their readers and viewers, including those who are directly impacted by the use of this hurtful language, like incarcerated people. Additionally, “The Language Project” could change how readers communicate about these topics in their own homes. 

The new language includes terms like “incarcerated people” and “people in prison.” This suggests more of a temporary state of being, rather than suggesting that this condition will be imposed on their character for the rest of their lives. Overall, it is meant to promote the idea that those who have been imprisoned can re-enter society and should not be burdened by their past actions for their whole life as long as they have served their time.

Here at Providence College, these conversations are had in a different context. Each year, Active Minds has a meeting centered on the dangers of “-icking.” When asked for a definition, Active Minds co-president Abigail Pruchnicki ’22 said, “-icking labels a person by one aspect of their behavior. For example, calling someone ‘anorexic’ makes someone’s perception of that person dependent on their suffering from anorexia, rather than their actual characteristics.”

Instead of this language, Pruchnicki gave a list of other ways to talk about disordered behavior and mental illness: “You could say they have a disorder or suffer from a disorder.” This small linguistic adjustment separates the person from the behavior. Being intentionally conscious of the language that we use to describe people, we can create a more inclusive campus community surrounding mental health and other ailments. 

In addition to creating a stigma or idea about people from an outsider’s perspective, these terms can have an adverse effect on those who are being labeled. As Pruchnicki said, “-icking can lead someone to internalize their label and will make it worse. They should be seen as a whole person rather than just one aspect of disordered behavior.” Thus, the community and affected people can all benefit from an introduction of inclusive language.

Mental health and criminal justice reform are serious issues plaguing the United States in recent years. In order to promote the continuation of progress on these issues, it is important to address the problematic language that has allowed these issues to perpetuate for many years. Inclusive language is only the first step of many towards inclusion and change, but it is certainly a step that would positively impact the lives of so many people.

In the end, the world can be a better place if we start to recognize that people are not defined by what they cannot control. By allowing individuals to separate themselves from mental illnesses or past convictions, they are empowered to continue working on themselves, rather than resigning to a label they can not change.

Environmental Accountability: Ensuring Corporations Practice Sustainability Is Key to Climate Movement

by kwheele4 on April 15, 2021


Environmental Accountability: Ensuring Corporations Practice Sustainability Is Key to Climate Movement

by Julia McCoy ’22

Asst. Opinion Editor

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

As Earth Day approaches, many people are encouraging sustainable practices and ways to live a more earth-conscious life. Here at Providence College, EcoPC is promoting an Earth Day Challenge for the month leading up to Earth Day, in which they encourage students to use a reusable water bottle or straw, watch an informative documentary, or learn about gardening and food waste. While these projects are great ways to remind people about what they can do to help themselves and the earth, there are larger hurdles that can not be overcome with just a metal straw. 

For years, individuals have been asked to do their part to make their carbon footprint smaller. This means that the blame and guilt of a dying environment has been put on the individuals who were not involved in producing the carbon emissions that caused the most climate issues.

Instead, that blame should fall to the big corporations who not only make up 70% of carbon emissions, but also have known of their involvement for decades before the public was made aware. In 2015, a report was released that companies like Exxon knew about their impact on the environment, but actively chose to ignore it. 

For decades, with that knowledge, these companies allowed individuals to take the blame for the climate crisis. Additionally, they continued to push back against legislation that would have held them accountable. 

Not only does this remind us of the lucrative political power of large corporations, it also begs the question of what could have been done to prevent this dire situation if companies had been open and honest about the impact they had on the changing environment. 

But now that this information is readily available, people should not settle for an apology or a press release discussing “long-term” solutions. Rather, the narrative should simply be reversed. The public, who have been guilted for something as simple as drinking from a plastic water bottle, should hold corporations accountable for their actions and failure to respond morally. 

Environmental biology major Julia Abbott ’22 agrees that there needs to be action from all aspects of society. Abbott said, “Although individual people should still use their own platforms and actions to increase sustainability, it is up to more powerful corporations to head these movements and fix their mistakes.”

Additionally, the resources and money available to corporations provide them a better opportunity to enact  quick change. Although some individuals are committed to leaving a small carbon footprint, others in lower-income communities are not as capable of changing the way they live. And they should not be expected to, since the vast majority of climate issues are not their fault.

On the other hand, companies like Exxon have the means to tackle their own threatening practices. And, more importantly, they have a moral obligation to. After failing to share the vital information that they had for years—not to mention actively working to continue this abuse—these companies are responsible for the blame and climate reparations that could only begin to help the environment.

Overall, it is important to note that individual sustainable practices are helpful. Though it would take a much higher percentage of the population to make these practices incredibly effective, the use of metal straws, composting, and thrifting can impact your individual life and the larger community as a whole because it endorses and advertises climate-friendly practices. It also slowly pushes companies to get involved. 

However, in order to make powerful, sweeping changes, the people should begin to press those companies that have been most culpable for these issues. By putting large-scale blame and attention on their errors, they may finally be forced to do something positively impactful. 

Vacations vs. Vigilance: How Making Your Own Spring Break Concerns the PC Community

by kwheele4 on March 18, 2021


Providence College has canceled spring break this semester for the sake of stopping the spread of COVID-19, so it is imperative that students do not go against this by making their own travel plans. Photo courtesy of PxHere.

Vacations vs. Vigilance: How Making Your Own Spring Break Concerns the PC Community

by Julia McCoy ’22

Asst. Opinion Editor

It is without question that students at Providence College, and people around the world, are waiting for life to get back to normal. But, while the COVID-19 pandemic remains a threat, it is important that people do not rush to return to their old lives. For college students in particular, this involves staying at school when you would usually be on spring break. 

Spring break is an exciting time for college students to get a well-deserved break from their otherwise stressful and busy schedules. Year after year, students pack their bags and fly to various warm destinations for a week to destress. In an attempt to keep coronavirus infections low on campus this semester, PC  decided to forego spring break. So, for the sake of the PC community, it is important that students do not ignore the College’s plans by making trips of their own. 

Instead of a week-long traditional spring break this year, PC gave students four mental health days that are scattered throughout the semester. While these days do not allow students to fully enter “break mode,” they do provide for some extra relaxation during a busy semester.

Regardless of what the College has given, some students are still choosing to take advantage of the Zoom feature of their classes by taking classes remotely from a tropical destination for a week. They have essentially made their own spring breaks.

This is incredibly detrimental to the progress that our campus has been making because those students are then reentering the College’s campus without having quarantined. They can go back to classes and the dining hall without anyone knowing that they may have just been on a plane the night before. This is dangerous for their fellow students, professors, and staff that work all across campus. 

No one is denying that college students need a break. It is painfully clear that Zoom fatigue—the exhaustion that comes from online classes—is an unwelcome addition to the usual mid-semester stress that comes even in a COVID-free environment. Although mental health days provide some time off, many students spend that time doing homework or studying for exams. It is a bit difficult to see the relaxation aspect of the day off when it falls in the middle of an otherwise busy week. However, that does not mean that students should be taking it upon themselves to insert a spring break into their semester as they please. This could easily make the COVID-19 situation at PC harder to control and more likely to get worse. 

Every student on campus this semester made the decision to adhere to the College’s rules and plans to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This absolutely included an understanding that spring break would not take place in the same way that it once had. As such, making the decision to go on a vacation and come back without quarantining for the appropriate amount of time is endangering fellow students and other members of the campus community that might not have the means to protect themselves. 

With vaccine rollouts improving and the country looking ahead to a much safer environment, the end of the pandemic is more in sight than ever before. For members of the PC community, this could include, as the President’s Office addressed on March 10, in-person classes for the fall 2021 semester. With this in mind, people are beginning to hope for a more normal reality in the near future. However, this is only going to happen if everyone remains vigilant in their efforts to stop the spread of the virus. 

Of course, all students would love to go on a vacation to Florida or Aruba right now. Who wouldn’t? But given the situation that our campus and the rest of the world are in, it is better to sacrifice island time until it is deemed safe to travel without endangering your peers. 

Evening the Playing Field: How Supporting Women’s Hobbies Could Impact Their Futures

by kwheele4 on March 4, 2021


Taylor Swift’s music is frequently criticized for appealing only to fanbases of young
women and to therefore be lacking in its legitimacy. Pictured here are young fans at one
of her concerts. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Evening the Playing Field: How Supporting Women’s Hobbies Could Impact Their Futures

By Julia McCoy ’22

Do young women have hobbies? It seems like a simple answer would come from this question. Yes, of course they have hobbies, how else would they express their interests? And yet, the issue of women’s hobbies and interests is a legitimate debate across social media platforms like TikTok. 

According to one TikTok account, @nofocksgivenpodcast, it is “rare” for young women to have hobbies in the same ways that boys do. The podcast hosts argue that there are no hobbies that bring young women together the same way that some hobbies bring boys together. While this is clearly untrue–and rejected by several women—it does raise an interesting question: why are womens’ hobbies and interests not taken as seriously as boy’s? 

One issue that causes this is that sometimes, women’s hobbies can be seen as attention-seeking. If a woman likes sports or video games, she is suddenly expected to know everything about that particular thing. If she doesn’t, then it is assumed that she doesn’t genuinely have an interest, but is just doing it to get the attention of the men around her. 

When asked about this, Abigail Pruchnicki ’22 said, “When I throw a football with my friend on campus, I worry that people will see me and think ‘she’s just doing that to impress guys.” This is a common thought both on Providence College’s campus and in other aspects of female lives. Women oftentimes feel like they’re incapable of being able to freely express their interests without people suspecting them of having ulterior motives.

On the other hand, there are interests that are deemed “too feminine,” including makeup or clothing. Women are allowed to have these interests, so to speak, but they are not considered as intellectual or interesting as men’s interests. If a woman has a hobby like makeup, she may be seen as vain or girly. So, although she may not be judged for pretending to like something, she may also be judged because the thing she does like is considered superficial. 

By making interests “masculine” or “feminine,” a precedent is set that excludes people from exhibiting what they are passionate about. If a young woman is forced to suppress her interests from an early age, she might lose confidence in other aspects of her life. 

Another issue to consider: how is music “girly”? How is a TV show or movie deemed “for girls”? When a large group of women tend to find interest in one artist or show, it is often deemed not as serious as its fellows. This is especially true in the case of boy bands, or teen pop music in general. It seems that just because the majority of an artist’s fanbase is female, they do not deserve the same critical respect as other artists. 

Some artists, like Harry Styles or Taylor Swift, have faced this backlash for many years. Oftentimes, their music is brushed aside as appealing to the masses or only for fangirls. In reality, the two artists—and several of their peers with the same issues—have critically acclaimed work. 

When asked in Rolling Stone about the issue of being able to prove his credibility due to the large mass of female fans that he has, Styles responded, “Who’s to say that young girls who like pop music—short for popular, right?—have worse musical taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy?” Essentially, why are the interests of young women brushed off as irrelevant fanfare?

He continued, “How can you say young girls don’t get it? They’re our future… they kind of keep the world going.” Thinking of the gravity of this, it can be argued that suppressing the interests of women from an early age may contribute to them becoming less confident in their future pursuits.  

Young women are entering into higher education and the workforce at increasing rates. It is incredibly important to make sure that these women are uplifted, rather than put down, from a young age. If their interests are taken seriously and they are able to pursue any hobby they want, they will be more likely to aspire to better things in their careers. 

Additionally, if the playing field is evened between women and men relating to their interests from a young age, they will be equally likely to pursue their interests in an uninhibited way. 


Speaking Out: Is There a “Right Time” to Open up About Sexual Assault?

by kwheele4 on February 25, 2021


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Trigger Warning: This piece talks about sexual assault. 

By Julia McCoy ’22

Imagine telling a deeply personal story about trauma that you have experienced and immediately facing backlash from people stating that you are lying or that your story is fabricated. Sadly, this is the difficulty that thousands of women who speak out about their sexual assault face.

When it comes to speaking up about private, personal experiences, there is never one particular time to do it. The only timeline that people should follow is their own, especially when it comes to something as troubling as sexual assault.

In our time, with movements like #MeToo, people—specifically women—have begun to feel more empowered when speaking up about their experiences with sexual assault. This open environment has certainly been reassuring for some, but it does not solve the backlash that comes with speaking up.

Oftentimes, when a woman opens up about the trauma she has experienced, there will be those who question her motives, asking why she chose that moment to speak out, saying it was too early, too late, or in order to get something for herself.

Just a few weeks ago, congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posted an Instagram Live video to discuss her personal experience during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. Among a variety of other important topics, Ocasio-Cortez also briefly mentioned that she is a survivor of sexual assault.

In response to this aspect of her conversation, many took to Twitter or conservative news stations and claimed that the congresswoman was exaggerating her assault experience to heighten the popularity of her account of the attacks. Kim Klacik, a former Maryland Republican congressional candidate, spoke on Fox News after Ocasio-Cortez went live, saying, “A lot of things she does is for attention, I wouldn’t be surprised if AOC makes money off her posts.”

Klacik’s sentiments were strongly echoed across the country, with many people quick to dismiss Ocasio-Cortez’s story as a fictional retelling of events. They agreed that her discussion of experience with sexual assault was a tactic to draw attention to her story, rather than an honest look into her past.

Ocasio-Cortez is unfortunately far too familiar with this scrutiny, but she is not the only person to experience this judgment after speaking out. Her experience only highlights the skepticism that thousands of women face when discussing their own personal experiences with assault.

This issue brings up a more general question: is there a right time to discuss your experience with sexual assault? If Ocasio-Cortez had opened up earlier in her career, would people have been more receptive and understanding? Why should any woman have to fear the response to some of her most emotional experiences?

Sexual assault is far too common in the United States, and especially on college campuses throughout the country. According to a 2016 survey from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, over 20 percent of college-aged women have experienced “completed or attempted sexual assault.”

Of course, these are only the estimated numbers, as many cases could go unreported for years, or even a person’s entire lifetime. With this in mind, it is worth wondering how college campuses and society in general can become more accepting and open for women to discuss these deeply personal experiences.

The best thing that schools, and Providence College specifically, can do in these situations is to listen to survivors, regardless of when they decide to tell their story. Sexual assault and any form of violence is often hard to process, so survivors often take different amounts of time to cope with what has happened to them. Knowing that, it is important to foster an environment of compassion and understanding.

Based on the example of Ocasio-Cortez, it is clear that women of all statuses are judged for their individual coping processes. If this is happening to high-profile individuals, it is certainly happening in more private spheres with young adults and college students. Because there are so many women who experience some level of sexual assault during their time in college, it is important that all schools work to ensure that every story is treated with equal respect through counselors and Title IX coordinators.

Returning to Our Roots: Why Trump’s Absence at the Inauguration Restored Tradition in Washington

by kwheele4 on February 4, 2021


Returning to Our Roots: Why Trump’s Absence at the Inauguration Restored Tradition in Washington

by Julia McCoy ’22

Asst. Opinion Editor

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States of America. Amidst a day of celebration and change, there was one significant figure missing: his predecessor, Donald J. Trump. 

Although the former president’s absence was certainly noticeable, it also calls Americans back to the traditions of our nation’s capital and to the transformation of the highest office of the executive branch. It gave a sense of normalcy amidst the tumult of the months following the 2020 general election.

Trump is the first president to be absent from the inauguration of his successor since Richard Nixon, who famously resigned after the 1972 Watergate scandal. Previous presidents might not have attended their successor’s inauguration because of poor health, taking care of family, or being impeached. The reason for Trump’s absence? A continued failure to admit that he had lost the election. 

The decision to not attend the inauguration did not come as a shock to anyone who has been paying attention to the election and transition of power. In the months following the election, former President Trump and his supporters looked desperately for any evidence of voter fraud. Regardless of the numerous courts that ruled against his allegations of fraud, Trump did not concede the 2020 presidential election.

The calls of fraud and a stolen election resulted in violence. On the day the Electoral College votes were to be certified, a large number of President Trump’s supporters participated in a deadly insurrection at the United States Capitol building, with calls to hang Vice President Mike Pence and overturn the election results. 

Two weeks after this insurrection shook the halls of Congress, the country was happy to embrace any sense of tradition and normalcy that the former president’s supporters had attempted to take away. 

Throughout his tenure in the country’s highest office, President Trump chose to forego several traditional procedures and ideas. His constant questioning of international organizations and agreements—including the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Accord—led the country on a path independent from some of our strongest allies. 

After four years of unconventional actions, President Trump’s absence at the Inauguration of his successor was just the last of those actions. Instead of attending, the former president chose to have a send-off rally at Joint Base Andrews before heading to Florida. 

Although his likely plan for this rally was to rival the celebrations of the inauguration, many Republicans proved loyal to tradition and chose to forego Trump’s final antics. Senator Mitch McConnell and Pence, two of Trump’s closest allies, chose to decline their invitations to the send-off in favor of President Biden’s inaugural ceremonies. 

With Trump’s former allies and those with whom he disagreed joining together on the steps of the Capitol that his supporters had recently breached, Jan. 20 was a day focused on moving past the last four years and looking ahead to change. 

The attendance by members of the Republican Party is incredibly promising, as it shows the citizens of the United States that Republican officials care more about the continuation of the presidential transition than the lies and grandiosity of Trump’s exit from office. They would rather look to the future of the country than continue to hold onto a presidency that is clearly over.

Although there are a number of Trump supporters who continue to question the integrity of the election, the joint support for President Biden and the media coverage of celebration rather than anger and resentment sends a message to the American people that the country will move on from the deadly attacks and restore the traditions of the office that have been overlooked for four years.

President Trump did participate in one tradition before his departure, though—he left a letter for President Biden, just as his predecessors did before him. While only a few people know the contents of that letter, the gesture itself serves as a symbol of tradition and an admittance from the former president that he lost the 2020 election. However, a lack of any verbal concession stoked the flames that led to the deadly insurgence. 

No matter how hard he tried to undermine the election, former President Trump’s efforts were done in vain. In the end, with the shadow of his attacks and lies looming over Washington, D.C., our country is able to continue on with the traditions of our past and look forward to a peaceful transition into Joe Biden’s presidency.

Writer vs. Writer: Should Professors Share Their Personal Opinions in Class?

by The Cowl Editor on November 12, 2020


Graphic courtesy of Pixabay and Pixy.


Writer vs. Writer: Should Professors Share Their Personal Opinions in Class?

by Peter Mazzella ’22

Opinion Staff


​In a classroom setting, political and religious beliefs are typically regarded as sensitive subjects. Professors are discouraged from sharing personal opinions, as doing so may cause a divide within the class and discourage students from being open about their own opinions. While this may be true, professors should feel comfortable sharing their personal beliefs because it encourages open discussion, which can be beneficial for all participants. 

Teachers should share their personal beliefs with their students, as it is important to know where the professor aligns. However, there is a small caveat to this statement; while it is a professor’s right to decide whether they share their personal beliefs with students, students should not feel pressured to agree with these beliefs to earn a better grade. Maintaining a middle ground in which professors can apply an unbiased grading system and welcome all different beliefs is critical in developing unity within the classroom. 

Additionally, transparency within the classroom allows for open discussion as well as a common ground between those who feel similarly. So long as a pressure-free environment exists where students do not feel obligated to manipulate their personal opinions to fall in line with their professors’ opinions, professors should be able to share their thoughts without a problem.  

Whether students agree or disagree with their professors’ personal opinions, there is a degree of importance in their transparency. Opinionated statements often help facilitate discussion, which can allow students to be heard and to have their opinions recognized as well. If a professor wants to express their opinion on a topic, that should be made clear to students so that students may then decide for themselves whether or not they agree. 

Recognizing this may not be the case; however, students are encouraged to speak with their professors about what is subjective and what is objective in their classes. 

by Julia McCoy ’22

Asst. Opinion Editor


Students come to Providence College with a purpose; in addition to spending four years making friends and discovering ourselves, we come to PC to learn from experts in certain subject areas. Students look to professors as sources of authority on campus, since they have a wealth of knowledge from which to draw on. 

Students who see professors as authoritative figures likely would not question professors who share their opinions in class. ​However, there needs to be a distinction made between fact and opinion. While every opinion is important, professors should use their platform in the classroom to share information and facts rather than their personal opinions. Due to professors’ high level of education, students are likely to take professors’ words seriously and even as fact.

Classes are, more than anything, a place for students to gain information and form their own thoughts. It is important for professors to give students all of the possible perspectives on a certain subject without showing a preference for any of those perspectives.

College is a transformative place for students, so it is important that they are able to formulate opinions and ideologies on their own during these years. The best way to do this is through informative readings and discourse with other students. Professors are a great resource for guidance and perspective in discussions. It is important, though, that students are able to craft informed opinions of their own.

It is worth noting that students come into college as adults, so even if their professors do attempt to impress their opinions in class, students would hopefully be able to differentiate fact from opinion.

With current events often overwhelming our lives—like this year’s presidential election—it can be hard for professors to remain silent on such important issues. As much as they can, however, it is important that professors use their platforms to transmit knowledge to students rather than use the time to vent about their own personal issues. Everyone has an opinion; it is natural. Regardless, it is important that PC remains an environment that fosters individual discovery, truth, and information in the classroom.

Tackling Title IX Changes: PC’s Response to New Federal Guidelines Is Promising

by The Cowl Editor on October 29, 2020


Tackling Title IX Changes: PC’s Response to New Federal Guidelines Is Promising

By Julia McCoy ’22

Opinion Staff


Trigger Warning: This piece discusses sexual assault. 


Earlier this year, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and an upheaval of their daily routines, college students were faced with more troublesome news. The federal guidelines surrounding Title IX had changed and would affect the way sexual assault is handled at their schools.

​Federal Title IX changes were produced in response to lawsuits claiming that schools were being biased against “responding parties,” or those who were accused of an offense. While the guidelines were issued to try and eliminate those biases, students and survivor rights advocates worry that stricter guidelines would prevent justice from being served.

​This news, of course, affects students across the country and here at Providence College. The new regulations, passed by the Department of Education, address issues such as cross-examination processes, types of acceptable evidence, and the locations that colleges have jurisdiction over.

​However, one of the most important things to recognize in this situation is the significance of choice. If the current federal administration is choosing to roll back certain policies, a school is not liable to follow suit. According to Jeffrey Hill of the Rhode Island Department of Health, a school cannot do less than what the federal guidelines require, “but certainly they can exceed them.”

​Freedom of choice, then, belongs to the College. Individual schools have the right to deal with issues in their own way, as long as they meet minimum federal guidelines. So, how did PC’s administration respond to these regulations?

​The first major change was the introduction of a federally mandated cross-examination process. The proposal for cross-examination has been considered for years now, but was just passed at the federal level in the hopes that information received during these processes would be more reliable.

​Ideally, a cross-examination ensures that each party has the opportunity to answer questions truthfully and that the investigative parties have access to these statements. According to Gail Dyer, J.D., a member of the General Counsel team at PC, “No information should go to the decision makers unless it is fully tested and deemed reliable.” This prevents false information and evidence from being included in the decision-making processes.

​Of course, there was some hesitation with this introduction, as it could cause retraumatization for the survivor or intimidation of either party. PC is doing its best to combat this. Survivors do not have to be in the same room as the person they are reporting against. As Dyer said, “Being in the same space may hinder that search for truth.” Instances of PTSD or retraumatization could certainly affect the search for the truth, so the College is promising safe spaces as a way to avoid this issue.

​The federal government also gave colleges “discretion to respond, or not to respond, to conduct that is not covered by Title IX.” This includes situations that may arise at non-school sanctioned events, such as off-campus parties.

​Because off-campus parties are not covered under Title IX, students had reason to believe that instances that occur off-campus would be ignored by the school. Dr. James Campbell, the Title IX coordinator at PC, responded to these concerns, saying, “An offense might not be a Title IX offense, but we have rewritten our policies so that something offensive like that is still a violation. The College is still saying that behavior is not acceptable.”

​Although a situation that occurs at an off-campus event not sanctioned by the College is not covered by Title IX, the College would not ignore the issue. Rather, these issues would be handled by a Community Standards procedure.

​It is in the best interest of the College to continue to handle these off-campus offenses regardless of what federal protections state. We, as students, are contracted by the College to follow certain rules. The Student Handbook is, according to Jeffrey Hill, a “contract between you and the school. The student code of conduct applies to all students.”

As the handbook states, students have “the right to coexist peacefully with other members of the Providence College community, which includes the right to protection against force, violence, threat, harassment, and abuse.” Because these are the rights afforded to us by PC, the College has an obligation to protect us, wherever we may be, from having said rights violated. The administration recognizes this, which is why there are procedures in place that exceed the guidelines of the federal government.

​The new federal guideline also gives schools the option to choose between two different types of evidence to accept. The first is a higher standard, known as clear and convincing. The second option is a lower standard: preponderance of evidence—this has been the practice of the College. The administration has chosen to keep preponderance of evidence as its standard, which it believes “reflects best practice,” according to Dyer.

​Essentially, there was an option to make the requirements of evidence much tighter. However, the College decided that this was not necessary in their procedures.

​If students were worried about a lack of mandated reporting on campus, it seems their worries can be quelled at PC. The College maintains that any faculty—except those confidential resources such as the Health Center, the Personal Counseling Center, and the chaplains—is a mandated reporter.

​Additionally, the College introduced a new group of “Officials with Authority” (OWA). These staff members are required to report any information related to a possible incident of misconduct to the office of Dr. Campbell. If anything, these introductions make faculty more accountable for reporting issues they are aware of on campus.

​Students’ anxiety surrounding changes to Title IX was certainly justified, as the federal guidelines could have created a more dangerous environment on college campuses for survivors. However, the College has used its discretion to ensure that students are supported, whether on or off campus.