Facing Difficult Times

by The Cowl Editor on October 5, 2017

Editor's Column

by Marla Gagne ’18


On Monday morning, most of us woke up to a long list of CNN messages on our phones recalling the events of a mass shooting in Las Vegas: “At least 50 dead and more than 200 injured.”

Soon we would be informed that 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas Sunday evening, ultimately leaving 58 people dead and over 500 injured before taking his own life. The country was glued to phones and TVs as more was revealed about the worst mass shooting in modern history.

In this week’s Cowl, writers inform readers, analyze, and discuss some of the hotly debated issues, like gun violence and attacks, currently plaguing the United States and World. The News Section examines the events of Sunday night as more information becomes available about the shooter and victims and how this will affect the future of gun laws in America. The front-page features fundraising for Puerto Rico, one of the many islands harmed by a recent series of hurricanes that left buildings crushed, agriculture destroyed, electricity gone, and people in great need of shelter and resources. Along with gun violence and natural disasters, the U.S. is also struggling over the rights of athletic protesters to kneel during the national anthem—are they disrespecting the flag or utilizing their rights of freedom of speech?

Finding answers to these difficult problems is not easy—I certainly do not have solutions to the challenges we are facing. While we try to find these answers, we as individuals today can and should:

· Recognize that we do have problems—from gun laws to the inequality in our country.

· Come together as a community to feel, think, heal, and take action.

· Realize the pen is mightier than the sword—research, write, and talk before making judgments and decisions.

· Show goodwill to others. The mass shooting was an evil, corrupt act, but as individuals we can spread kindness. Take an extra five minutes to check on someone stressed about work. Read a book about someone completely different from you. Give someone an extra hug, prayer, or smile for no reason at all.

These are simple actions that will not solve the problems we face, but will move us one inch closer to a better college, better country, and better world.

1,400 Cowls Missing: What Happened?

by The Cowl Editor on September 21, 2017

Editor's Column

by Marla Gagne ’18


Dear Providence College Community,

Friday afternoon, Paige and I, along with most of our staff, were wrapping up after  a long week. After a few hours of work and class, we were ready to head home and enjoy the weekend. But as I started to leave the library, I got a text—all of the Cowls in Raymond Dining Hall were gone.

My first reaction was excitement as many alumni and potential students were on campus and may have picked up our issue. But the more practical side of me was saying something was suspicious. I had been in Ray just a few hours before and all three shelves were pretty full.  Unfortunately, my skeptical side was right.

The library stacks were gone by 2:30 p.m. and, after asking library staff members, they informed me those shelves too had been stacked a few hours ago. Soon it became apparent almost all 1,400 issues of The Cowl were gone. Gone from Harkins and Ruane, the library and Ray. Gone from various spots in Slavin, including outside our office, and Ryan and Smith. The paper, which usually takes about two hours to deliver on Thursday night, was fully missing from campus.

We were left with simple and confusing facts—the paper was gone in a  span of a few hours and no one had seen it actually disappear. Paige and I immediately contacted Richy Kless, Associate Director of the Office of Community Standards and our Cowl adviser, who was also surprised by the  missing papers. We worked together to contact Dean Sears’ office. No official word had come from the school to pull the Cowls and no one had any information. We also have been working very closely with security to file a report. They started to look at footage to find answers.

One week later, The Cowl staff is still pursuing promising leads with security. As students, we know how much effort and time writing an essay can be. Ideas, research, rough drafts, editing, and finally that completed product. Like any writing, the process of creating a newspaper is just that—a process.

Each week editors can easily spend over 20 hours a week each in the office, holding meetings, brainstorming ideas, and then putting together the issue—layout, graphics, captions, headlines, and editing articles. Each article is a piece of work, starting from a simple idea before being transformed by research,  interviews, creativity, and a narrative. Each article then is put through three rounds of editing, having a total of nine people correct every article. Repeat this process for every article for a group of 80-plus editors and writers.

We love to write and we love this process—you have to feel that way to devote so much time and energy to this. We pride ourselves on being the voice of PC staff, faculty, and students and covering the issues that count. But when the Cowls were taken, our own right to inform the PC community and to express our ideas, was taken. And your right as the reader, to be informed, was violated too.

The Cowl is a product of 80-plus people—a team effort that happens every week and holds as a PC student tradition for over 80 years. Our writers are very dedicated to this publication and to the school and were very disappointed to find their hard work gone and hours spent wasted with no answer.

The investigation is ongoing and we hope to find answers soon. We thank everyone who has supported us in our search and that have helped us thus far. We thank all our readers who were able to pick up a copy before they disappeared and everyone who has been checking our website, thecowl.com, or our social media to read last week’s content.

Going forward, if anyone has any information that might be relevant to finding answers, please contact PC’s Department of Public Safety (401-865-2391) or our advisor Richard Kless (rkless@providence.edu).

We thank you for your support each week and hope you enjoy this week’s issue of The Cowl.

PC 101: Time to Flourish

by The Cowl Editor on August 31, 2017


by Editor-in-Chief Marla Gagne ’18 and Associate Editor-in-Chief Paige Calabrese ’18

As students begin to flood the streets of Friartown, one word is buzzing around the campus: change. Students, faculty, and staff alike are taking in the newest campus transformation that took place over the summer.

Huxley Avenue, once known as the street dividing campus, is now a pedestrian-friendly walkway complete with an overlook view of the city and the namesake of Friar Dom’s best friend. Guzman Hill, the obstacle for any student running late for their 8:30 a.m. class, is now a less-threatening staircase that can easily be conquered.

The Arthur F. and Patricia Ryan Center for Business Studies is starting its first fall classes, while Albertus Magnus, home to the sciences, is being renovated for 2018.

That is on top of projects that have just taken place in the last few years: a new parking garage, Chapey Field at Anderson Stadium, and Ruane Center for the Humanities.

After a year of celebrating its 100-year history, Providence College is racing towards a progressive future that will be the new normal for thousands of future Friars. And while the campus is physically changing, so are the Friars, new and old, who call PC home.

Freshmen have just plunged in the deep end and are slowly navigating their way through the lunch lines at Ray, the Civ syllabus, and making friends with strangers and new roommates.  Sophomores and juniors have shed their rookie status and are now ready to conquer the year ahead of them. And seniors, well, they are trying to enjoy their last year of normal before they experience their own drastic change.

And just like the students, The Cowl was experiencing its own transformation. Welcoming The Cowl team for 2017-2018 was a wonderful feeling, as we saw former writers adapt to new roles as editors and returning editors take on more confidence as mentors and veterans of The Cowl. The staff has changed significantly from the past academic year as the Class of 2017 bid PC farewell, but this year’s staff brings an abundance of new ideas and experiences.

Change is inevitable, both good and bad. Watching editors graduate, saying goodbye to family and friends, and being immersed into a whole new world is hard. But change also allows for more stories to uncover, new friends to make, and new places to discover. As PC enters year 101, let’s remember the past, live in the present, and embrace the future—the time of transformation and flourishing.

A Bittersweet Beginning

by thecowl.opinion on May 5, 2017

Editor's Column

by Marla Gagne ’18


Whoever said “If you love something, set it free,” clearly does not know our feelings about the Class of 2017.

They are vibrant and hilarious, intelligent and funny, loving and inspirational. And their best attribute? They work for The Cowl.

As commencement approaches, our Cowl staff is slowly coming to terms with the fact that our beloved seniors are leaving us. In one year, this dedicated team of editors and writers has rebranded our newspaper, launched a new website, pushed for the best stories, and worked tirelessly every week to make the best possible issue, usually with little sleep and a stack of homework waiting for them at home.

During the chaos, it is hard to appreciate the special moments—brainstorming ideas at a meeting, taking the team bowling, cheering when the pizza finally arrives, and reading horoscopes on a Monday night for a little life inspiration.

Looking back at this incredible year, I am so honored to be taking the position of Editor-in-Chief and for Paige Calabrese ’18, who is off gallivanting in Spain, to return home as my Associate-Editor-in-Chief. Thank you, Katie and Jackie ,for showing us what it means to be leaders. Thank you to the seniors for giving your all every week. And thank you to the writers for always pushing for the best stories. Without you all, we wouldn’t have had such an incredible year. And we hope that even though we are letting you go free to do amazing things, you will come back to us (or else).

Despite this bittersweet moment on our last Cowl Wednesday, I look forward to carrying on our 82-year tradition. We give students a voice on campus, we record history, and, most importantly, we bring such a great group of people together. We have made so much progress this year and Paige and I cannot wait to continue the success and make The Cowl better than ever next year. The staffs of Cowl past have created a path for us—now it is up to us, future writers and editors, and you the readers, to help carry it on.

PC Sodexo Responds to Scrutiny

by thecowl.news on April 27, 2017


Nick Crenshaw ’20/The Cowl

by Marla Gagne ’18

News Co-Editor

Recently, students around the country have been clicking on and reading a newly resurfaced food blog that gave Sodexo, the food server company that serves over 850 colleges and universities, including PC,  an F rating.

The article entitled “Is Sodexo’s Food Bad For You?” was published by the food blog “Is it Bad For You,” whose aim is to expose unhealthy practices by companies and leave readers with the best information to make healthy decisions.

Originally written in March 2016, the article has resurfaced at colleges such as the University of New Haven, Le Moyne College, Marquette University, University of Pittsburg, and more, denouncing the food Sodexo produces. The article, written by DeAnne Oldham, claims, “Sodexo is not healthy. They are a mass produced food service company with great marketing. The food may sound healthy, but it is heavily processed and high in carbohydrates, fat, and chemicals.”

The article claims that Sodexo reuses food back to back days, gives students unhealthy meal choices, is highly processed and frozen, and even points to an issue in 2013 where horse DNA was found in some of the frozen beef products in the United Kingdom. Oldham further stresses that the food is high in fats, sodium, and unknown chemicals and may cause stomach discomfort, hypertension, obesity, and heart disease.

The article was approved by Dr. Becky Maes, who the blog identifies as “an author, motivational speaker, nutritionist, and Board of Certified Medical Doctor” and currently as medical director at ForeverGreen International.

Sodexo officially responded to the article in an article “What’s behind the headlines? Separating health and nutrition facts from fiction.” The article emphasizes that the website fails to “offer scientific evidence to support their claims” and reinstates their mission to “help guide students towards the healthiest options…and help students with food allergies find allergen-safe dining options.” They also claim to have reduced an estimated five tons of salt and 14 tons of sugar from their food since the introduction of the Mindful Program in 2013.

Stu Gerhardt, the general manager of Sodexo services on campus, refuted the information from the rating article. First, he solidified that although Sodexo is a global company, his staff of 160 employees and him work for PC first and care about making good food. “It all comes down to the individual school,” said Gerhardt.

At the same time, Gerhardt also recognizes that there are sometimes problems at Ray Dining Hall or Alumni Hall. He remembers a few years back some pieces of chicken not being properly cooked or even recently a student receiving a moldy piece of bread at Alumni. But Gerhardt says the company works to improve upon any mistakes and uses these incidents as “teachable moments” with the staff and works to immediately correct mistakes.

The biggest difference for him is the people, stating that his job is to “manage the food and manage the people.” He, along with his staff, takes “pride in transparency” and looks for student feedback on what they like and do not like. While some students use the comment board in Ray or email him comments, he often finds, that after reaching out to students, he does not get a response back.

In response to claims from the article, Gerhardt assured students that Sodexo uses “reputable vendors and dealers and does reach out to local markets when possible.” Although they do use leftovers, they only utilize products they want to work with that may have not been fully eaten the day served. All food is properly cooled down in machines downstairs before being frozen and labeled.Produce items are delivered six days a week and are fresh, although, because of the size of the College, they must be pre-cut before being sent.

Some of the items that the kitchen must produce in large amounts come in frozen, through an IQF process (individually quick frozen) where something like fresh chicken is delivered frozen and then at the account, it is thawed (following HACCP safety guidelines) and partially cooked in the oven, and then finished on the grill at the grill station at time of service.

Some PC students have been wary of the sanitation of the dining facilities, especially after a recent picture of a dead mouse behind a drinking machine surfaced around campus. Caitlin Rodensky ’19 said she does not have full confidence in the cleanliness of the facility after seeing rats and finding lady bugs in her food on multiple occasions.

Nick Crenshaw ’20/The Cowl

Gerhardt says there are sometimes mouse sightings that often come from the dorms upstairs and follow the food or even come out when there has been a lot of construction that disturb their nests. But there is an integrated pest control program that takes care of any problems and Gerhardt says they are “actively addressing” the issue, and are prepared in the event of any future sightings. The facilities are also inspected by a third party agency to check their health and safety standards.

One thing Amanda Lock ’18 and Rodensky agree on is that although there can be good food options, the choices often get repetitive. Rodensky says she would “like to see more options…sometimes each section serves the same food on the same days every few weeks.” Gerhardt says they have recently been expanding their food availabilities, expanding the salad bar to include different options on each side, changing the pizza to full slices, and coming up with different food themes for the stations.

Gerhardt encourages students to reach out with suggestions or new ideas. He says the “cooks take a pride in what they do” and are “not afraid to try something new.”

Where Did the Trees on Campus Go?

by The Cowl Editor on March 23, 2017


Photo courtesy of linked.com

by Marla Gagne ’18

News Co-Editor

Returning from spring break, students walking down Huxley Avenue found themselves blinded by sunlight and staring into an empty space, while Mal Brown students discovered they could see  Suites from their windows for the first time. Something seemingly changed over break, but what was it?

A row of trees previously lined the side of Guzman Hall facing Huxley Avenue, but were cut down over break. This was one of a number of tree trimmings or cuts that have taken place over the past school year, the most famous and controversial being the removal of the large red oak tree on the Smith Quad.

So, what is happening to all of the Providence College trees?

John Sweeney, senior vice president of finance and business, said the trees lining the side of Guzman were planted “too close together and were unhealthy.” Instead of being the recommended 12 to 15 feet apart, the trees remained six feet away from one another.

Sweeney said leaving the trees alone would have led to issues with root systems, and the trees would not have been able to reach their full potential and beauty, blocking one another from sunlight and full growth. But the trees will not be gone for too long—plans are in place to replenish the same area with new trees over the summer.

As PC continues to construct new buildings and change the campus, some students, faculty, and staff are concerned with how the natural landscape will suffer. When asked what he would say to anyone concerned about green space being eliminated on campus, Sweeney said, “We’ve [PC] added square footage of green space” and are “very concerned about increasing green space, being smart with parking, and appropriately planting species native to the area.”

He first highlighted  that the former Davis parking lot has now been transformed to green grass and some plants, while Ruane Center for the Humanities and Chapey Field at Anderson Stadium were built on existing parking lots. The College did lose some grass on the new turf softball field and Glay Parking Lot.

Some students like Victoria Palmer ’17 are disappointed by the College’s continued removal of trees. ”When the Smith tree was determined to be cut down, I was really upset because I would do my homework under that tree and it was a place here I could go and just relax,” said Palmer.

After seeing the cleared space beside Guzman, she felt very upset that trees that have probably been there for many years were being once again removed.

Sweeney admits that he has received a lot of criticism about the removal of trees, but, like many of his critics, believes in the value of the campus’ landscape.

The trees, grass, and plants make PC a “park-like atmosphere in an urban setting,” and he sees that,“people really value that about the campus; it makes it beautiful and special.”

In April 2015, PC hired Bartlett Tree Experts to take an inventory of the College’s estimated 2,000 trees. All the trees were inspected, tagged, and positioned in a GPS, allowing the College to know what changes were needed to be made and how best to identify and replace the necessary trees.

Although he regrets having to cut down some trees, Sweeney said that the administration has a responsibility to the PC community to keep them safe and not ignore potential threats, even if they are not definite.

In April, students can expect to see a new red oak tree being planted on the Smith Quad. As mentioned, trees along Guzman will also be replanted in the summer as part of the new Huxley transformation. Features of the new transformation will include replacing Huxley with pedestrian walkways surrounded by plant life, trees, grass, and new benches.

Across from Guzman and Accino Hall will reside the new overlook, a five to eight-foot platform that will give a great view of the city landscape. Former Guzman Hill will also be less of a sharp incline, displaying a new staircase and a handicap path to get from upper to lower campus. Sweeney hopes these new additions to the landscape will satisfy students worried about losing their land. “We don’t want to take away green space,” said Sweeney.

Hannah Albright ’18 said she greatly values trees and green space as “very important for a beautiful campus” and, despite missing the removed trees, understands “that the new campus plan includes a good amount of green place, trees, and outdoor seating.”

Palmer admits the change can happen for the good, but must be done in the right way.

“I feel like we’re seeing the beginning stages of what they’re trying to make a green campus and at this moment it’s a little disappointing,” said Palmer. “When everything is complete, and if done in an environmentally friendly way without cutting down healthy trees, then I’d be okay with it.”






Friar Flashback: The Ruane Center for the Humanities

by The Cowl Editor on March 17, 2017


Nicholas Crenshaw ’20 / The COWL

by Marla Gagne ’19

News Co-Editor

“The beauty and elegance of the building matches the beauty and elegance of what takes place inside of it,” said Providence College philosophy professor and former Development of Western Civilization (DWC) Program director, Dr. Vance G. Morgan.  The “beauty and elegance” Morgan admiringly referenced was then the newest creation at PC, a hybrid of tradition, classical architecture, and the fast-paced technological world of the present. Today, we know it as the Ruane Center for the Humanities.

The Gothic style 63,000 square-foot building, most famous for its DWC lectures and seminars, was first constructed in 2012 after alumni Michael A. Ruane ’71 &’13 Hon. and his wife Elizabeth donated money for the new facility.  The building would open only 18 months later, becoming home to the School of Arts & Sciences, the Humanities, the DWC program, the Liberal Arts Honors Program, and the English and history departments.

For PC students today, Ruane is one of many buildings visited in their daily schedules, a hotspot for coffee lovers, and a great spot for studying. However, only four years ago the current seniors were entering Ruane as the first students to use the facility. Gabby Shkreli ’17 remembers walking into the archway of Ruane and “being in awe of its castle-like beauty.”

“Being able to experience Civ in Ruane made class exciting and enjoyable, especially since we would be the first class to do so,” stated Shkreli.

Like many of the buildings and facilities that have been built on campus over the last few years, Ruane was the creation of generous alumni donations and constant construction.

Mr. Ruane graduated PC with an economics degree and became the founding owner, chair, and managing partner of Boston-based TA Realty, one of the nation’s top real estate investment advisory firms.

The “building for the ages” was not only funded by a PC alumni but also designed by one. Daniel S. Kantor ’92, principal and chief financial officer of S/L/A/M Collaborative, and Gerald J. Sullivan ’86, a principal in Sullivan Buckingham Architects, brought the $21 million project to life by the fall of September 2013.

PC then welcomed Yale University grad, Pulitzer Prize winner, and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient David McCullough to dedicate the new building. Addressing an intimate crowd of 1,200 PC alumni, staff, and family during St. Dominic Weekend, McCullough was recorded in the Providence Journal saying, “I feel to the depths of my being that this emblematic new building is not only a step in the right direction for Providence College, but for our country. We need to be reminded about who we are and how we got to be who we are.”

McCullough would correctly predict how Ruane would become not only a center for the liberal arts, but a mediator between the past and present.


A Peek Inside: A New Era of Education

Ruane was designed in a Gothic style that features natural light and intricate masonry detailing, a tribute to Dominican tradition. Throughout its three levels, students are able to learn and study in new places for discussion.

Throughout the building, there are 181 rooms, including two lecture halls, two 50-60 seat classrooms, and numerous seminar spaces. All classrooms are equipped with up-to-date technology, including big screens and computers in lecture halls and flat screens and computers in seminar rooms.

During the groundbreaking of Ruane in 2012, Fr. Brian Shanley, O.P. ’80, said, “I am more excited about The Ruane Center for the Humanities than I have ever been about any new facility on this campus. Students learn differently now than they did 20 years ago…The Ruane Center will provide Providence College with state-of-the-art teaching and learning space that promotes dialogue between and among students and faculty while also encouraging greater student engagement in their scholarship and study.”

PC has continually pushed individual learning and open discussion, hoping for this idea to take shape in the new building and DWC program. Dr. Raymond Sickinger, professor and chairperson of the history department, agrees that Ruane has helped students taking DWC. “Ruane has enhanced the DWC experience. The large classrooms are not only better equipped for the best that technology can provide, they also provide a more flexible space to allow for some small group activities,” said Sickinger.

As a student, Shkreli felt the seminar rooms allowed her to be more involved in class and be part of the discussion, not just watch it. “Because I could see all of my classmates’s faces while discussion took place, Civ seminar felt much more personal and intimate. I loved that, when a teacher asked a question and someone answered, they were able to pose their answer to the whole class, rather than just back to the professor. In this way, Civ—and the professor—became much less intimidating and much more engaging.”

While Ruane is the center for learning, it also possesses unique features for students, faculty, and staff. Students can be found all night studying in the Great Room, the space notable for its cozy fireplace, Hogwarts-esque design, and go-to spot for intimate College functions. As midterms are in full swing, the Starbucks spot and connector between Ruane and the Phillips Memorial Library only seems to get busier.

The basement level is a “retreat space” that allows students, faculty, and staff to discuss and debate issues on the couches and six-person tables equipped with two computers, a printer, and a white board. When the weather is nice, students move their conversations outside to the first floor patio overlooking the pathway to Slavin. Students also collaborate in a special spot on the second floor, the watchtower classroom that gives students a 180-degree view of the campus and a chance to sit at the desk of former President Woodrow Wilson.

While the building is often noticed for its design, its style goes beyond just looking good.

Carly Martino ’19 believes PC focused on giving the building a classical look because Civ is all about revisiting the classics. The building makes Martino “feel like you can ‘transport’ into that time period.”

Shkreli, a marketing major with an English minor, has also enjoys the new Arthur F. and Patricia School of Business Studies. “Yet, whereas the business center, for me at least, symbolizes growth, innovation, and hope for the future, I think Ruane is so important and special because it serves as a reminder of our past, a representation of our roots as a people,” said Shkreli.

Almost four years ago, PC set out to create a new style space for collaborative  and community learning with the newest resources while also maintaining its Dominican and Liberal Arts identity. And as the campus continues to expand and other colleges move away from the small liberal arts community, many faculty, staff, and students believe Ruane will keep the campus rooted to its core values.

Dr. Steven Lynch, English professor and director of the Liberal Arts Honors Program, said, “Many colleges and universities are shifting resources away from the humanities—and I think in the long run that will prove a mistake. Here at PC we are fighting an uphill battle because so many students want to major in something immediately marketable. But the Ruane Center will serve as a reminder every day for students and faculty that a seriously educated person must be grounded in the humanities.”


Club Spotlight: Women’s Volleyball

by The Cowl Editor on March 3, 2017


Photo courtesy of Amanda O’Neill ’18

by Marla Gagne ’18

News Co-Editor

Bump, set, spike! Every week in the Peterson Center, students can see the Women’s Volleyball Club Team running drills and gearing up for their next tournament at practice. From members of the travel team to club players, the group of 25 passionate athletes loves to get competitive and have fun.

In the past few years, female students have gone from playing on the Men’s Volleyball Club Team to creating a fully female team that competes in the Northeastern Women’s Volleyball Club League (NWVCL). Both travel and club members practice three times a week, but only the travel team competes in collegiate tournaments at colleges such as the University of New Hampshire and University of Connecticut.

For many of the players, the club has served as a way to continue the sport they love while also getting involved on campus. Treasurer Amanda O’Neill ’18 recalls first seeing a table for PCWCVB at the annual Involvement Fair.

“Volleyball had been a part of my life at that point for seven years, so seeing this table at a new school as a timid freshman was comforting,” she said.

Reflecting on her four years on the team, President Amanda Hartmann ’17 said, “I got involved my freshman year first semester and it really has defined my time at Providence.”

Practice and tournaments allow players to practice volleyball at a more competitive level than intramurals without having the varsity team commitment.

The team, which has a home tournament on Sunday, March 19 in Peterson, welcomes all students to try out in the fall or join the team to practice throughout the year.

“It is a great way to get involved and be active!” said Hartmann. Any interested students can find more information on the PC Club Sports page.

Friar Flashback: Very Superstitious…

by The Cowl Editor on February 17, 2017



Nicholas Crenshaw ’20/THECOWL

by Marla Gagne ’18

News Co-Editor

Cursed Circle:

One day Wanda Ingram ’75, senior associate dean of undergraduate studies and freshman class dean, was beginning her first year at Providence College, the newly co-ed school. As she walked with fellow classmates into Raymond Dining Hall, she noticed the people around her quickly moving to avoid something on the floor. What was going on with the sporadic movements that left people jumping away from her? Nothing too crazy—just a little superstition.

Ingram soon found out that the weird behavior she was witnessing was simply to avoid a circle in Ray with the school insignia. Rumor had it that one step on the seal would bring bad luck. Ingram laughs as she thinks back to the superstition, something she personally never believed in, while Dr. Raymond Sickinger ’71, history department chairperson and professor, recalls always avoiding the circle like most students at the time.

Fast forward to 2017, and the circle has moved but the superstition is the same. Most students on campus agree that everyone must avoid walking on the plain grey circle in front of St. Dominic’s Chapel or face the consequences.

Alexandra Jones ’17, who firmly believes in avoiding the circle, first heard about the curse on a school tour. Her guide said, “If students step in the circle, they won’t graduate. If parents [step in], they won’t get good financial aid.”

And, while there may be some who doubt the power of the circle, Joe Flynn ’15 ’17G said his sister, who didn’t hold the same belief, stepped on the circle during a tour and never got into PC.

The origins of the superstition remain unknown, but Jones thinks it might be like people spinning on circles before boarding a plane. If there is a “circle somewhere, you have to do something [even though] it doesn’t make sense,” said Jones.

Some are avid believers in the circle’s powers, others just see the circle as concrete.

But whether it is a seal in Ray or a circle near the chapel, most students might agree with Michael Scott from The Office who says, “I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.”

Scream Like You Mean It:

It was the best of times, it was the worst times: It was Civ. Since its formation in 1971, Development of Western Civilization (DWC) has been a unique part of PC’s liberal arts education. Students study thousands of years of history across multiple disciplines, learning about the cultures that shaped the Western World.

DWC is also notoriously difficult. The essays are complex, the seminars are long, and the homework is never ending. In celebration of finally conquering long nights of studying and hard work, students gather the night before their final DWC exam and scream out two years of feelings.

Flynn said DWC Scream is simply freshmen getting excited because it is their first one, sophomores feeling glad to be done with DWC, juniors usually not being interested, and seniors going crazy—“it’s the thing before graduation and commencement.”

Dr. Sickinger can recall Civ Scream being an event when he returned to PC as a professor in 1974. Ever since then, students have continually gathered to celebrate surviving DWC and having a night of fun.

Every Civ Scream is different and, after a seemingly long period of silence and waiting, crazy events take place. Students in just the past five years have seen everything from burning couches and fireworks to students streaking across campus. Mascot costumes and horse masks always make an appearance and sometimes students go for a swim in mini pools and slip ‘n slides.

Recent PC classes have failed to have this classic DWC experience. Security has heightened over the past few years to control any crowds and prevent property damage. Although he knows it can get out of hand some years, Flynn says he is glad to have experienced Civ Scream during his time at PC. “It’s a fun tradition,” he said, “And a cathartic release.”

Honorable Mentions:

To cover all superstitions and traditions over 100 years would be impossible, but here are some that have survived the test of time:

Rumor has it that Doore Hall, along with other lower campus buildings that used to be part of a medical institution, is haunted by the ghosts of patients.You have never really lived at PC if you have not hungout at the Quad, sled down Guzman Hill, or taken a picture with the country’s creepiest mascot: Friar Dom.

And while most students are glad to wear jeans and T-shirts to class, students before 1971 used to follow a dress code of a sports coat and tie. Freshmen were also forced to wear small hats with their class year on them, allowing seniors to identify and order them around.

As PC flies into the future and looks forward to another 100 years of success, it brings the traditions, for better or worse, with it.

SSA Bundles Up Blessing Bags for Homeless

by The Cowl Editor on February 17, 2017


Photo courtesy of Victoria Palmer ’18

by Marla Gagne ’18

News Co-Editor

Saturday morning, Katharine Comber ’18, Emily Ventura ’18, and Grace George ’19 drove to Walmart armed with a list of supplies and a budget of $250. They slowly checked the items off their list—chapstick, cough drops, gloves, and Valentine’s Day candy—and left with armfuls of bags. But these supplies are not going home— they are going to the homeless.

One goal for Providence College’s Students for Social Action (SSA), a club aimed at tackling social issues and performing community service, is to help the homeless community this semester. “The homeless population is frequently overlooked in society, and so we wanted to help them around Valentine’s Day to show them that there are people that care about them,” said Comber, president of SSA.

So what exactly do shopping bags have to do with the homeless? The Walmart trip was one of many steps that allowed the club of 30 to launch their first annual “blessing bags” mission. Aimed at providing the necessities for people on the streets, the bags include everyday items that meet the needs of both men and women. “We focused on toiletries,” said Ventura, vice president. “From research, we found food is sometimes more accessible and toiletries are more expensive.”

The five member exec board also wanted to help during times when many people forget about giving. Victoria Palmer ’18, secretary, said, “Everyone donates during Thanksgiving and Christmas and forgets about the giving season in January and February, the coldest months.”

Deciding what to put in the bags and how many to make was a difficult process. Comber, Ventura, and Palmer, along with Treasurer Keaundra Lawson ’18 and Public Relations and Media correspondent Grace George, spent weeks researching what items to include and hunting down the best bargains.

In the end, the club made 50 blessing bags that included toothbrushes, floss, cough drops, band-aids, tissues, soap, toothpaste, snacks, and Valentine’s Day candy, among other items. The bags also had gender-specific items, adding chapstick for men and gloves and pads for women.

When asked if there were any items that especially stuck out to them, Ventura said buying tampons had the biggest impact on her because “[they are for] a personal need that women don’t have control over.”

Overall, the club members felt the mission was a huge success. The idea for the blessing bags originated last year when exec member Kristen Perelli ’16 saw Facebook and Pinterest posts about people keeping bags of supplies in their cars for homeless people they saw on the street. At the time, SSA did not have funding from Student Congress and was unable to carry out the event.

The idea was not forgotten, however, and club members this year decided it was worth continuing the work that past members started. They decided to take the individual act and make it a group effort for homeless centers in the area.

“It was just an idea last spring semester and this spring semester we actually followed through with it and only hope to make it bigger next year,” said Ventura.

The supplies from the shopping trip were later packaged by an assembly line of club volunteers. The blessing bags will now be donated mainly to Crossroads Homeless Shelter and, if there are extra, potentially to the people of Riverwood Mental Health and House of Hope.

SSA hopes to make next year’s event even bigger, gaining more donations from the PC community and local stores.

They look forward to continually talking about social issues and finding events to support in the coming semester, whether it is talking about sexual assault on campus or showing support for the Providence Women’s March.

A trip to Walmart or packaging drinks into a bag may seem like a small act but, as Comber pointed out, “most students don’t work with the homeless,” and these events  “bring awareness to social issues happening on campus and off campus too.”