A Call for “Remembrance, Resistance, Revolution”: PC Celebrates Black Studies’ 25th Anniversary with #BreakTheSilence
by Kyle Burgess ’21
This past Thursday, Sept. 24, approximately 225 members of the Providence Community gathered virtually to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Providence College’s Black Studies Program through the #BreakTheSilence Zoom. The inaugural celebratory event was designed to commemorate the actions of PC students five years ago in calling for then-president, Father Brian Shanley, O.P., to address racism on PC’s campus.
Back in November 2015, roughly 100 students and faculty joined in a walk across campus, with some wearing tape over their mouths. The protestors had hoped to speak with Fr. Shanley about their list of demands, which included “increased hiring and retention of faculty and staff of color, including campus security, and creating a more supportive environment for students of color,” per the Providence Journal.
In the protest’s immediate aftermath, Fr. Shanley committed the College’s efforts to satisfying these grievances and promised to establish committees to research and implement such demands as he signed the 2015 Demands for Redress. However, in the years following, these committees have seemingly disappeared along with any administrative interest in the demands made by those students.
Today, in light of the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement combined with the 25th anniversary of the Black Studies Program’s founding, many students and faculty members feel that the efforts of these students back in 2015 are more pertinent than ever.
“Current students seemed not to know about the #PCBreakTheSilence movement,” explained Dr. Zophia Edwards, assistant professor of sociology and Black Studies and director of the Black Studies Program, “but were nevertheless articulating that PC still was plagued by the same problems that the 2015 activists had highlighted. I wanted to create a space where the PC community could learn about what happened and about what came before, where the community could reflect on how far we have come since these events, and to imagine the future, where we might go next.”
The Black Studies Program was created by student activists and faculty advisors, but they were not the first members of the PC community to address the need for systemic change on campus. “At the [Break the Silence] event, there was an alumna from the class of 1988 who said the racism and exclusion that students were describing resonated so much with her because those were the same issues she and her cohort faced when they were undergraduates at PC,” Dr. Edwards explained. “That generation of students were also organizing. So current students can build on the foundation that was laid before them, pick up where former students left off when they graduated, continue the work, and avoid the mistakes of past generations.”
In honor of the sacrifices and efforts made by previous Friar generations to enact change on campus, the theme for this year’s anniversary celebration was “Remembrance, Resistance, Revolution.” Dr. Edwards revealed that the program wanted to “pay homage to those who organized, who protested, who risked their lives, health, and happiness to make this world and this campus a more just and humane place.”
She also stated that the Black Studies Program will require structural changes, including more faculty and resources, to help ensure that their aim of providing a platform for students to freely voice their opinions and advance themselves academically and socially in a community environment is preserved.
Students can continue to honor the legacy of the original Break the Silence activists and countless others by getting involved with the movement on campus. “Keeping the movement alive, staying connected with the alumni who were activists, continuing the work of maintaining those values and goals, passing this knowledge down from generation to generation though the student clubs and organizations on campus—these are all ways that current students can best honor the movement and keep the memory alive,” Dr. Edwards said.
There is also a video of the event posted on the Black Studies Facebook page, giving students who were unable to attend an opportunity to witness the stories of alumni and faculty committed to the fight against systemic racism.
Additionally, students can follow Black Studies on Facebook, Twitter (@BlackStudies_PC) and Instagram (@blackstudies_pc) for more information about the minor, events, and the 25th anniversary celebration. For more information about the Black Studies minor, specifically, please contact Dr. Zophia Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Taking on the Presidency During Unprecedented Times: Congress Hosts Virtual Meeting with Fr. Sicard
by Kyle Burgess ’21
This past Tuesday, Sept. 8, the 71st Providence College Student Congress welcomed special guest Father Kenneth Sicard, O.P., for a virtual town hall meeting over Zoom.
Fr. Sicard succeeded Father Brian Shanley, O.P., as the College’s 13th president on July 1 amidst the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide protests following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police. Now that students have settled back into the “new normal” of the fall 2020 semester, Student Congress used this opportunity to allow students to submit questions for the new president in a socially-distant environment.
The meeting began with Fr. Sicard discussing his path to the presidency. Originally from nearby Fall River, MA, he moved with his family to Westport, MA at a young age before enrolling at PC in 1974 as an accounting major and first-generation college student. At that time, Sicard had no intention of joining the priesthood; it would not be for another six years after his graduation that he would have a change of heart, joining the Dominican Order while obtaining his M.B.A. at the College.
From there, he spent time as director of the Office of Residence Life and later as executive vice president and treasurer from 2005 to 2019. In his spare time, he is an avid cook and often serves his favorite beef dishes to his fellow Dominicans at the priory.
As president of PC, Fr. Sicard recognizes the importance of ensuring the safety of the PC community in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, as well as promoting diversity and inclusion on campus. Regarding the decision to reopen the College for the 2020-21 academic year, he felt having a sense of normalcy would be crucial for the PC community during this turbulent time. “It would have been a shame not to reopen in person,” he explained. “And so far, it’s been a great success.”
He shared that PC has spent $12 million in preparation for reopening without having to lay off or furlough a single employee of the College. Fr. Sicard has also taken pride in the College’s ability to cover the costs of textbooks purchased through the school bookstore, as one of only two universities to do so across the country, and announced that this initiative would continue into next year.
Many of the submitted questions during this talk also pertained to issues involving race within the PC community. Fr. Sicard stated that more must be done to combat systemic racism present on campus. Specifically referring to the stories shared on the @BlackAtPC Instagram account, he said, “It is hurtful to see how many painful experiences students and faculty have had.”
Since his appointment as president, Fr. Sicard has taken multiple steps to improve what he and his predecessor had begun under the previous administration, most notably by establishing a board committee for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Fr. Sicard also encouraged the student body to provide suggestions about what further actions the College should take, claiming he is “willing to work with any organizations” to improve the experiences of BIPOC students at the College.
Many students who attended the talk are optimistic about future changes during Fr. Sicard’s tenure. “I appreciated his candor and willingness to acknowledge that PC’s got a lot of room for improvement,” said Sean Gray ’21, executive vice president of Student Congress. “Our school is in good hands with him at the helm. PC’s success in reopening and containing the virus so far is a testament to his leadership.”
Senior Class President Malik Washington ’21 echoed Gray’s praise, claiming that “Fr. Sicard is someone who we, the student body, can trust to take PC to the next level. His genuine desire and concern for students’ well-being shines through in his efforts.”
Although Fr. Sicard’s transition has not been easy, his outreach to the PC community during such tumultuous times has been appreciated by many. He has already had to deal with several issues including the pandemic, race, politics, and other issues. The entire PC community is eagerly looking forward to where he will lead us during these uncertain times.
COVID Maelstrom Grounds Friar Flights: Study Abroad Programs Canceled for Fall 2020
by Kyle Burgess ’21
As the world continues to reel from the devastating impacts of the novel COVID-19 pandemic, students and faculty of Providence College received the latest updates as to how the “new normal” of the 2020-2021 academic year will look. On June 2, Dr. Joseph Stanley, dean of global education at the College, confirmed that all study abroad opportunities for the fall semester had been canceled. This difficult decision came after a month of dialogue (April-May) amongst PC faculty, administrators from other universities in the United States and abroad, the Registrar’s office, the Office of Public Safety, General Counsel, and other PC departments all the while closely following CDC and Department of State recommendations.
“Late on into our discussions, it became clear that advisory levels for international travel were not changing,” Dean Stanley explained. “In addition, foreign consulates were not operating normally here in the U.S. which severely complicates the bureaucratic process of obtaining an international student visa.”
PC’s Center for Global Education had the benefit of already navigating these advisory levels beforehand with its partner abroad centers, and particularly the College’s own PC in Rome program back in March when COVID-19 ravaged parts of Italy and other parts of the world and students were forced to scramble to return home. “The students and their families were amazing to work with during that process,” Stanley added, “especially considering the milestone moment the fields of higher education and education abroad have currently been experiencing.”
Currently, the College plans to allow students to study abroad during this upcoming spring semester and is continuing to monitor developments across the globe. The Center for Global Education has been tasked with examining the impact on regions where students are likely to travel, with some nations such as New Zealand and Denmark opening borders due to dropping infection rates. Students and faculty can expect an update by early October detailing the College’s decision regarding the status of spring 2021 travel opportunities.
Students who saw their fall semester abroad plans canceled have the opportunity to participate during the spring 2021 semester or to forgo the process altogether, although most students have already exercised the latter option. Only 70 students were still registered to study abroad in the fall by the time the decision was made public, compared to the record 300 fall applications that the Center for Global Education received in December. The office expects roughly 300 students to partake in semester-length study abroad during the spring and maintains that any students who saw their fall abroad plans canceled may still join them or wait until their senior year to travel.
For those students who elected to come to campus this fall, the Office of Residence Life stepped in to ensure that housing options were available to them. Additionally, all fall 2020 study abroad candidates were required to register for on-campus classes so that they could meet their credit requirements for graduation senior year.
While the entire Providence College administration worked around the clock to establish some return to normalcy in time for the arrival of students to campus for the 2020-2021 academic year, they also acknowledge that they cannot replace the potential experiences and opportunities which have been lost as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. “I want to apologize to those students whose plans have been impacted by our decision,” Stanley stated. “And I understand that this is not what they had hoped to hear. However, the health and academic well-being of our students always came first in our conversations with the faculty, and we made sure that the students affected were the first to learn of all developments from our task force.”
Those with questions regarding the recent decision to suspend fall abroad programs may reach out to Dean Stanley directly (email@example.com) or visit the Center for Global Education’s website (https://global-education.providence.edu/covid-19-updates).
A Call To Action: What It Means to Be Black at PC
by Kyle Burgess ’21
In early July, the Instagram account @BlackAtPC uploaded its first post. As of September 2, 2020, @BlackAtPC has nearly 3,000 followers and over 100 posts anonymously sharing the experiences and concerns of former, current, and future BIPOC Friars. The posts elucidate what it is like to be BIPOC on Providence College’s campus. The administrator also has several posts dedicated to calls to action for members of the PC community, which can be found under the “calls to action” section of its Instagram story highlights. The overall response to the account has been positive, but the account has received and documented a number of hateful anonymous submissions.
The Cowl was able to interview the administrator of @BlackAtPC. What follows is a transcript of the interview, conducted by Kyle Burgess ’21. Meghan Connors ’21 previously interviewed the administrator of @BlackAtPC for the Providence College Odyssey; you can find this interview on the PC Odyssey website. Submissions to @BlackAtPC can be sent via DM on Instagram or anonymously via www.bit.ly/BlackAtPC.
What was the inspiration for making an Instagram account dedicated to BIPOC students and their discriminatory experiences as PC students?
I was prompted to create the @Black At PC account when there was an emergence of these types of accounts for high schools and colleges across the country, and I noticed that there had not yet been one created for PC. The @BlackAt accounts, as far as I can see, began as part of the response to the murder and modern day lynching of George Floyd.
In my view, these accounts represent the need for educational institutions and society as a whole to understand that, as horrific and brutal and reprehensible as those acts of racism are, these types of murders are far from the only forms of racism. Racism takes many shapes and forms. Many people think racism is just about extremist groups like the KKK. However, racism is not just the most extreme and intentional words and actions. In reality, racism includes, (and is more so about), the everyday, interpersonal actions and interactions and messages that BIPOC receive from society, media, politicians, and sadly our very own professors, mentors, and peers. Many of these interactions negatively and wrongly affect, define, and hurt us. They tell us we don’t belong or we aren’t intelligent, worthy, respectable, or capable because of our skin colors.
My initial intent was to give BIPOC students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the PC community a chance to share their experiences with racism at PC—stories they may not have felt comfortable or been able to share before, that may have been silenced, laughed at, ignored, or not properly handled. The intention was also to gather enough voices, stories, and followers to organize and call for specific actions and policies that PC should take at institutional and individual levels in order to combat the forms of racism that take place at PC.
As a BIPOC member of the PC community, I have both personally experienced and witnessed dozens of interpersonal and institutional acts of racism. I know PC and all institutions of higher education and organizations struggle with these issues, and I also know that while PC is sincerely trying and making progress in some areas, it is also struggling and falling short in many other ways. We can and should look at how much the institution has grown in the past decade compared to where it once was, in particular under the leadership of Fr. Brian Shanley, O.P. who has done so much for the institution as a whole, specifically on this issue.
While I do have criticisms of some of his approaches and actions, I also believe that it is possible to both criticize and address areas that need improvement and also recognize and celebrate the progress that has been made. This duality of any person, place, or being is the very nature of the Veritas we claim as our motto and it requires each and every one of us as part of this community and family to live out what this means in every moment of every day.
How active have faculty been in sharing their stories compared to PC students? Are more alumni reaching out as well?
We have had several dozen submissions from different generations of alumni. We have also received some stories from faculty and staff who identify as BIPOC. While our account is open to submissions from any and all BIPOC-identifying members of our community, past and present, the majority of our responses thus far have come from current students and class of 2020 graduates.
What do you view as the end goal of this account and also for systemic changes within the PC community?
This will depend on what unfolds in the coming months and year. Specifically, this will revolve around how PC will act and if/how individuals decide to take ownership and accountability for seeing racism as an issue that all must address. For the time being, I will continue to post stories as they are shared, respond to direct messages, inquiries, concerns, and things people want to talk through, respond to invitations for collaborating or brainstorming on emails and comments on posts as I’m able to and as the needs emerge, and advocate for what I believe (based on what I’m observing about comments, private messages, patterns and trends in stories, etc.) are important steps for PC to take. The goal of this account is two-fold: provide an avenue for BIPOC members of our community to have their stories heard and validate and to both advocate for and provide concrete suggestions and plans to address the forms of racism that come up at PC. Anything beyond that will be determined as things unfold.
What can PC students do to bring attention to discrimination towards BIPOC students (implicit and explicit) here at the College?
The typical strategy at many colleges is to host public events or discussions and issue public statements condemning racism. While this is certainly an important element of addressing racism, many efforts often stop here, barely touching the surface of addressing the issue. What is most important is to regularly have and institutionalize conversations around racism, implicit bias awareness programs, and training for our community on how to be active bystanders with friends, classmates, roommates, teammates, and others. Student organizations, as well as academic departments and administrative circles, must have ongoing conversations about this and learn how to check themselves and one another about implicit bias manifesting in how they interact with BIPOC (this, and the fact that white people do not step in to challenge implicit biases when they occur, is a huge part of the problem).
Take a look at the type of stories that this account is highlighting. The vast majority of instances are interpersonal interactions in which a white member of our community is engaging with our BIPOC Friars in a racist way. This is where much of the change needs to happen. This is also where we need intervention and action. We need to have more members of our community step up and intervene when racism occurs. This can happen by training and educating every Friar to be an active bystander just as intensely as we train and educate them to think, engage, and reflect critically. This is what a liberal arts education is about. If we do not train and educate students to do this, we are failing them not just in their time at PC and once they graduate and move into the next phases of their personal and professional lives, but we are also failing them in what it means to live a life that is characterized by truth, love, and charity. These are values we claim to practice and advocate for as an institution proclaiming the name of the Catholic Church and of Jesus Christ. We need to do more to live this out. This should be our focus all day, every day, in every moment.
It is also important to set up systems and structures for accountability such that if a professor, student leader, staff member, or any student harms another person on the basis of race or any other marginalized identity, they are held accountable and provided an opportunity to learn from their mistake and rectify the situation. If the student is not willing to do the latter, they should face consequences to their actions. The reason why we have hundreds of thousands of instances of racism on campus is because people are not held accountable.
The administrator of @BlackatPC provided further information regarding the account’s views on communication and collaboration, action, and censorship.
On Communication and Collaboration:
I have been communicating, brainstorming, and strategizing with several departments, faculty, students, and student organizations about how to best go about addressing the concerns that this account is raising whether in the community at large or in their specific area of focus. I am always happy, ready, and willing to engage in those conversations via DM on Instagram or email at BlackAtPC@gmail.com and plan to do more outreach on this front later on. I also vow that if mistakes are made or if something is said or done in such conversations that are misinformed and/or harmful, I will keep such conversations private so long as people are open, sincere, and willing to engage. The goal here is reconciliation and healing, not shaming and cancelling.
We do not censor anything here because we absolutely refuse to allow deniers of racism to use the claim of being censored as a reason to not address these issues. The only exceptions to this rule are direct, indirect, or personal threats to someone’s safety or the safety of someone else. Our goal here is accountability, justice, and reconciliation, not censorship, cancelling, or firing those who engage in racist language or behavior (so long as physical harm or threats of physical harm are not involved).
While we understand the concerns and pain behind students’ calls for firing specific faculty members, this account does not support that, assuming direct threats or actions of physical harm are not being perpetrated. We do believe that there should be more accountability, processes, and consequences for faculty who are consistently reported for racist language and behaviors. One specific area in which PC must improve is developing these processes and creating a system that deals with reports of bias and provides accountability.
@BlackAtPC’s Initial List of Proposed Action Items:
• The Office of Community Standards at PC does not seem to be up to par compared to our competitor institutions regarding racism and other incidents pertaining to race. I would suggest ramping up the efforts of this office, because once our policies are better enforced, I believe this will play a major role in minimizing incidents of racism amongst students.
• Provide implicit bias training for PC Public Safety, as many of the stories we have received detail how BIPOC are disproportionately targeted and harassed by Public Safety officers. This specifically has also been a longstanding issue of systemic racism at PC.
• Ensure that there is some form of accountability (not necessarily dismissal, except in extreme cases of harm and negligence) of faculty who are found to have multiple reports of racism against them.
• Establish mentoring programs and spaces for BIPOC faculty, staff, and alumni to connect and support one another and create pathways and connections for them to support BIPOC students.
• Ensure that the programming offices of PC Study Abroad and Internship List (SAIL), Campus Ministry, Orientation Leaders, Resident Assistants, media organizations, etc.) are provided with the tools, training, and confidence to address racism when they see it come up, and also so that they are self-aware and catch themselves when they inevitably act upon internalized racial biases and treat BIPOC differently compared to white individuals
• Include anti-racism requirements and expectations to any and all job postings and job descriptions for staff, faculty, and student employees
• Add a required seminar on anti-racism and diversity, equity, and inclusion for incoming freshmen in the same way that training modules are provided for alcohol consumption, sexual assault, etc.
• Commit to and actively create a more diverse leadership team at the executive levels, including the Board of Trustees
• Provide a replacement for the Balfour Center, which previously provided resources and textbooks for students of low-income backgrounds
Ultimately, as powerful and important as every single voice represented on the account is, there is only so much this account can do. We need the President, Vice President, Provost, and Board of Trustees to provide specific action items, policies, practices, and programs that will continuously address these issues, not just when they flare up after specific events. I know personally that Fr. Sicard means well and that he is sincere and genuine in wanting to make real change and progress on these matters. It is important to follow up on that sincerity with policies and programs meet the needs and that this account is highlighting. Each of us has the choice each moment and each day to decide whether we will step up to do our part to fulfill the unmet needs and heal the pain that exists in our BIPOC students. As has been shown in the stories on this account, many choose instead to perpetuate, deflect, demean, or ignore these things. I am hopeful and confident that PC will choose to do the right thing and will come out on the right side of history.
Coronavirus Affects Study Abroad Students: What Measures PC and Other Schools are Taking to Ensure Safety
by Kyle Burgess ’21
With the beginning of spring in sight and the perceived long-awaited end to flu season, the rapid emergence of COVID-19 in China, more commonly referred to as coronavirus, has sent shockwaves as well as carriers throughout the globe.
Recent cases of patients who have contracted the virus in countries such as South Korea, Italy, and even the United States have only added to increasing worldwide paranoia and led to many national governments taking precautionary measures to prevent the disease from spreading.
Providence College students who are currently spending a semester abroad in Italy now find themselves in the path of contamination with growing numbers of patients admitted to hospitals in regions such as Lombardy and Veneto. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) as well as the State Departments have both since ranked Italy at Level 3 for “Avoid Nonessential Travel” and “Reconsider Travel,” respectively.
In a recent email to PC students abroad in Rome from Dean of Global Education Joe Stanley, PC students have the choice of continuing their programs onsite through remote coursework or returning home to the U.S. while also completing courses remotely for credit. Those students who elect to return are not offered housing back on PC’s campus nor are their travel costs covered by the College.
“As of right now, it seems as though we are in what I would call a ‘limbo period,’” explained Sean Breuche ’21, who is currently studying in Rome. “Our classes are suspended until March 16, and more and more universities/colleges with students in Rome are being instructed to leave the country for the United States. Given past conversations with these students, it feels that a majority of them will be taking online courses upon their return to the States.”
Breuche also noted how he and his classmates continue to receive constant communication from his host university, CEA Global Education, as well as Dean of Global Education Grace Cleary. The students themselves are well-aware of the media’s hyperbolic presentation of the virus, but Breuche explained that they all simply want closure as to what their situation will be.
“While all of us Providence College students want to stay here (after all, it’s paradise here), we just want an answer as soon as possible. I am sure PC is looking out in our best interest, but I strongly feel that they are currently delaying the inevitable, in that Italy will only become more infected and we will have to return home in the near future,” commented Breuche.
However, not all PC students abroad have reason for high hopes. Olivia Moss ’21 studied in Florence with Fairfield University Abroad before Fairfield University made the executive decision to send her home to Long Island, NY.
“The PC students and I all went through Fairfield so Fairfield ultimately made the decision to send us home,” Moss explained. “Our school in Florence (FUA), however, did not close or even cancel our classes so I’m personally really upset that Fairfield made this decision so quickly without consulting FUA for advice.”
Moss continued stating her frustration, saying, “When a few students and I went to talk to FUA, they weren’t even aware that we were being sent home and that Fairfield cancelled our program. Now, we have been sent home with no information from Fairfield on what their plan is because they won’t accept online forms of the classes we have been taking for the last month at FUA.”
Additionally, Moss and her classmates did not get refunds for the costs incurred in travelling back home, alongside the lack of direction for how their academic semester will proceed. The students were, however, offered housing on Fairfield University’s campus and were permitted to take online classes from there or the comfort of their own homes.
“There is also talk of normal classes offered at Fairfield but they haven’t formed any kind of construct for the remainder of the semester and we’re supposed to resume classes March 16,” Moss added.
PC has since reached out to Moss and her classmates via email to assure them of the school’s commitment to getting their credits transferred in their talks with Fairfield University.
As of March 2, the annual liberal arts honors program trip was cancelled due to escalating concerns about a potential coronavirus outbreak while visiting Paris, France. This announcement comes a day following the closing of the Louvre Museum for similar fears, as well as discussions between trip chairs Drs. Stephen Lynch and Suzanne Fournier with the PC Global Education Office and tour company EF Tours.
With inflated fears over this supposed super virus continuing to mount to dizzying heights back home in the U.S. and elsewhere, it remains to be seen what lies in store for PC students abroad in other countries in the coming weeks.
Election of 2020: South Carolina Primaries and Super Tuesday Results
by Nicole Silverio ’22 and Kyle Burgess ’21
Over the past several days, results from South Carolina’s primary elections and Super Tuesday have created major developments for the upcoming decision of choosing a Democratic nominee.
Earning 39 delegates and nearly 50 percent of the vote, former Vice President Joe Biden and his campaign celebrated a major win in South Carolina over the weekend, resetting the entire race.
On Saturday, February 29, South Carolina held its Democratic presidential primary where Biden won a major victory, sparking hope for his campaign. Currently with 54 delegates, Biden was almost tied with Senator Bernie Sanders who had 58 delegates, threatening Sanders’ spot as frontrunner.
With 54 delegates at stake in South Carolina, Biden achieved immediate success by earning 20 delegates with only one percent of the vote being reported. Prior to South Carolina, Biden had only obtained 15 delegates after having minimal success in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, but the results in South Carolina had rescued his campaign.
Biden’s overwhelming support amongst black voters determined his victory, winning around three in five black voters. Two-thirds of voters over the age of 65 supported Biden.
With South Carolina’s large African- American population, Biden gained support for being Barack Obama’s vice president, who is beloved by a majority of black voters in the state. One resident of Columbia stated, “He was Obama’s vice president and he stuck by him.”
According to exit polls, 56 percent of the Democratic electorate was African American, adding to the significance of Biden’s support amongst black voters in the state. A Fox News voter analysis found that Biden is the highest rated Democratic candidate on who can best handle race issues, attaining 38 percent.
According to CNN, the favorable numbers amongst candidates in South Carolina overwhelmingly leaned towards Biden. According to the poll, 76 percent found Biden a favorable candidate with only 20 percent finding Biden to be unfavorable. Meanwhile only 53 percent favored Sanders, with the remaining 41 percent finding Sanders unfavorable. In regards to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 26 percent of South Carolina voters found him to be favorable while 66 percent consider him unfavorable.
After Biden’s victory, other candidates began to lose hope in their presidential campaigns. That night, as Biden gave his victory speech, businessman Tom Steyer dropped out of the race. On the following day, Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced the end of his presidential bid. Senator Amy Klobuchar also dropped out of the race. Both Buttigieg and Klobuchar have following backed Biden since the results in South Carolina.
The former vice president’s success in the Palmetto State was mirrored across the South and elsewhere following the results of Super Tuesday. Biden carried Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, and was even able to upset Senator Elizabeth Warren in her native Massachusetts. Not to be outdone, Senator Bernie Sanders captured the biggest prize of the night in the California primaries, coupled with his victories in Colorado, Utah, and Vermont.
These most recent results have effectively made it a two-horse race for the Democratic presidential nomination between Biden and Sanders. Following his inability to “get it done” at the polls, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his withdrawal from the Democratic contest with Elizabeth Warren likely to follow suit. Such concessions would follow in the footsteps of billionaire Tom Steyer, Klobuchar, and Buttigieg.
Featured Friar: Julia Lorkiewicz ’20
by Kyle Burgess ’21
Before setting foot on campus move-in day, the typical incoming Providence College freshmen bury themselves in a landslide of questions. “Did I pack enough Vineyard Vines apparel?,” to “Will I get along with my roommates?” and, for some, “Did I really pick the right major for the career I want to have?”
Some students, like Julia Lorkiewicz ’20, eventually find that the major they had declared upon entering PC is not all that they had envisioned it to be. Panic begins to creep in at the prospect of having to go through the process of picking a major all over again, coupled with fears of how this change will impact career choices after graduation.
“I came in declared as a science major, specifically focusing in chemistry,” Lorkiewicz explained, “but I also came into college with absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. About two weeks into school, I decided that it was not for me. I felt lost, confused, and very uncertain regarding what was ahead of me.”
Lorkiewicz felt at a loss as to what would come next. “At first, I felt disappointed in myself for not finding something right off the bat that I loved, and I spent a lot of time comparing myself to my science classmates who loved what they were doing when I did not feel the same way.”
However, while surfing PC’s online list of majors with her mother, Lorkiewicz came across Health Policy and Management (HPM) which piqued her interest. Following her mother’s advice, she enrolled in an introductory course for her second semester, and the rest was history.
“I can truly say this was the best decision I have ever made. My advisor, Dr. Hackey, has become my mentor, my advocate, and truly one of the best professors I have ever had,” Lorkiewicz added.
Life as an HPM major has offered her a wide array of interesting internships, giving her the opportunity to watch policies she reads about in the classroom in action. Lorkiewicz was able to sit in on medical licensing boards with the Rhode Island Department of Health during their discussions of the opioid crisis in Rhode Island, followed up with her work as a summer intern at a medical malpractice law firm, which fueled her growing desire to attend law school after graduating from PC.
Her most recent internship at Marsh & McLennan Agency located in Worcester, MA, however, is where everything clicked for Lorkiewicz. She was able to use her HPM experience while brokering and consulting with clients, and she is looking forward to working there full time come this June.
When asked to give advice for current students having second thoughts about their major or are still undeclared, Lorkiewicz insisted that they find a field that they are truly passionate about.
“The transition of switching my major was one of the scariest, yet greatest decisions I have ever made. Nothing is ever permanent and there are always going to be people to help you find where your strengths lie. Reach out to professors you trust, advisors, the career center, family members, or anyone else you trust for advice. But in the end, it is your happiness that matters in whatever major and career field you choose.”
In addition to keeping herself busy with her impressive strand of internships, Lorkiewicz has still found the time to expand her social network at PC.
She has been heavily involved in her four years in Friartown, serving as an Admissions Ambassador senior fellow and executive board member, two-time fall orientation leader, peer ministry leader, Lighthouse and Transformations retreat leader, and was recently inducted into the Dirigo Leadership Honor Society.
In the little free time she has remaining, Lorkiewicz can be found cheering on the Friars at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, working out at Concannon Fitness Center, exploring downtown Providence for new restaurants to try, or buried in a Dunkin’ iced coffee with her best friends in Slavin.
Ultimately, however, Lorkiewicz credits the many professors and classmates who helped her to find her true calling as an HPM major during her transitionary freshman year and beyond as the foundation for her countless memorable experiences here at PC.
For the Koalas: Students Host Australia Fundraiser
by Kyle Burgess ’21
This past Wednesday, January 29, members of the Providence College community came together in support of the people and wildlife of Australia. For the past several months, Australia has found itself under siege by wildfires ravaging the countryside and inflicting widespread damage to the infrastructure and landscape.
As firefighters from Australia and abroad continue to battle the blazes, the country has received massive amounts of financial aid from across the globe to continue waging its war against the encroaching flames. Despite the over-10,000-mile distance between themselves and the Land Down Under, both Claire Woods ’21 and Hannah Valente ’20 felt the need to give back to the place they called home for six weeks this past summer.
“Claire and I were lucky enough to spend six weeks in Sydney, Australia as Smith Fellows,” Valente explained. “Both of us stayed with host families who were so incredible. When we heard about the bush fires, we both agreed that we could not stand back and not do anything.”
In addition to reaching out to local businesses in Providence for donations, the duo felt that an on-campus fundraising event would also help in spreading awareness about the fires. They reached out to the men’s, women’s, and coed a capella groups to give performances while students enjoyed catering from Flatbread Company, Chick-fil-A, Knead Donuts, and more.
“The night exceeded every expectation I had,” revealed Valente. “I am so overjoyed at the love of the Providence community for Australia and their willingness to help.”
All donations made during the course of the night will go to the Australia Red Cross in their efforts to continue fighting the wildfires that continue to rage.
Polar-Plunging with a Purpose: Friar Honors Friend’s Legacy by Raising Donations
by Kyle Burgess ’21
Annie McMahon was not like most kids her age. Very few of them could claim to have hosted Chrissy Teigen or Michelle Williams in their home, let alone receive videos from the entire cast of The Office, the Jonas Brothers, and Whoopi Goldberg to name a few. At the same time, few people can imagine what it is like to survive two double-lung transplants, which McMahon underwent by the age of 22, having been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a child.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited life-threatening disorder that damages the lungs and digestive system. McMahon enjoyed a relatively normal childhood despite this early diagnosis, until the end of high school, at which time her health gradually declined.
The two transplant operations she underwent during this time proved fruitless as her body experienced organ rejection and, despite being approved for a third transplant, her condition worsened and she passed away this past summer before she was able to undergo treatment.
Watching her friend’s health deteriorate before her eyes became too much for Caroline Finn ’20 to bear. She became determined to raise McMahon’s spirits in any way she could, having grown up with McMahon who was Finn’s childhood best friend’s cousin. However, because McMahon was over 18 years old at the time of her operations, the typical charities such as Make-A-Wish would not consider her condition. Finn would have to think outside the box.
“I started to reach out to celebrities, either through the agency information I could find online or just through social media and asking if they would be willing to make an encouragement video for Annie,” Finn explained. “Less than a day after sending my first emails to celebrity management, I received a video from Steve Carrell from The Office, which was Annie’s favorite show.”
Videos from other celebrities began to pour in from the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Andy Cohen, Jimmy Kimmel, Gwen Stefani, Zendaya, the Kardashian sisters, and Adam Levine to share their support for Annie during this difficult time in her life. “She lived two months beyond her doctor’s prognosis and we all say that the celebrity love is what kept her going for a little while longer,” Finn revealed.
Eventually, McMahon’s brushes with fame began to attract national media attention. The duo soon found themselves on programs including Good Morning America and featured in coverage from E! News, People magazine, USA Today, and the New York Post.
This year, to honor McMahon’s legacy, Finn participated in the annual Rockaway Polar Plunge, with the money raised at the Plunge in McMahon’s honor going towards the Annie Fund. The fund is a memorial fund set up by her family and administered by Help Hope Live to help with uninsured costs for cystic fibrosis patients going through lung transplants and medical crises.
The plunge began in 2000 by the McMahon Family, shortly after McMahon was diagnosed with CF, for the purpose of raising funds for research of the disease as little government investment is put into finding a cure. Now in its final year, the plunge has raised nearly $2,000,000 total in the 20 years of its existence with 550 participants attending this year.
Finn reflected, “Now that Annie has passed away, it is so important to me to keep up her fundraising and advocacy efforts in her honor. What I really want to share with the PC community is how they can help and keep Annie’s memory alive by donating to Annie’s Memorial Fund administered by Help Hope Live. Every dollar really makes a difference and it means so much to all needing organ transplants.”
That the Future May Learn From the Past: Students and Alumni Partake in Reflecting Forward
by Kyle Burgess ’21
This past weekend, the Providence College community had the chance to embrace multicultural and diverse backgrounds in the second-ever Reflecting Forward celebration.
Students, faculty, and alumni took part in three days of festivities, workshops, and other social events, which allowed them to mingle with fellow classmates as well as those from previous Friar generations.
Reflecting Forward began on Friday with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation in the Peterson Recreation Center.
The afternoon’s keynote speaker, Ndaba Mandela, is the grandson of the famous South African political activist and former president Nelson Mandela who helped bring an end to the rule of apartheid in the country.
Ndaba is the founder of the Africa Rising Foundation which is a non-profit organization committed to aiding in the development of the African continent, along with instilling cultural pride in younger generations of Africans.
The event also recognized the efforts of Dr. Terza Lima-Neves ’00, Jack Murphy ’20, and the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS) with the MLK vision award which honors those who exemplify the legacy of the late Dr. King.
Following the actual Convocation, organizations including the Board of Multicultural Student Affairs (BMSA) and Stopping Homophobia, Eliminating Prejudice, and Restoring Dignity (SHEPARD) hosted alumni receptions for former and current students to connect and exchange experiences.
Saturday morning included greetings from President Rev. Brian Shanley, O.P., and Reflecting Forward Co-Chairs Duane Bouligny ’94, Andre Owens ’85, and Monica Womack ’91 before a presentation from the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (IDEI) about its mission.
Breakout sessions followed, including the second annual panel event Reflecting Forward: The Color of Excellence which detailed the stories of success from PC alumni during their time as students in Friartown and in the working world.
Participants then departed for McPhail’s or the Dunkin’ Donuts Center to watch the Providence Friars take on the Villanova Wildcats in an electric Big East matchup.
Afterwards, they reconvened in ’64 Hall for a night filled with dinner, dancing, and more panels from PC alumni who shared what their PC stories meant to them today. The Reflecting Forward Event concluded on Sunday with interfaith spiritual reflections and a gospel brunch.
For Friars young and old, Reflecting Forward provided them with the opportunity to share and learn from each other how their backgrounds have affected their time both at PC and beyond its gates.
“Reflecting Forward is an event that allows for the values of the college to be represented in the communion between people from all walks of life,” explained Sabrin Mohamednur ’20, vice president of BMSA. “It is a time for the Friar family, past and present, to celebrate the legacies started at this institution. This event allows members of the community to pay homage to the Friars from previous classes.”
For Ricardo Guzman ’20, president of SHEPARD, this event provides an opportunity for voices of current students to be heard by their classmates of all ages.
“Throughout my four years here, diversity, inclusion, and equity has been an important conversation among many groups, but SHEPARD has pushed to be included in those conversations. SHEPARD believes that it is important to create inclusive spaces for LGBTQ* people here on campus, understanding that it is a Catholic institution.“ Guzman added, “We hope that through this event we are able to continue to create more awareness and change at both a student level, and an institutional level by discussing some of the obstacles we have encountered and overcome.”
The success of the weekend’s events will no doubt lead to similar reflection events in the future.