“Feeling Smaller in the Room”: Improving the P.O.C. Experience at PC

by Meghan Mitchell '23 on March 16, 2023
Opinion Staff

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The year 1968 marked the end of the Civil Rights Movement, a time when African-Americans across the United States came together to demand equality for all. However, this is not where the story ended. As a predominantly white institution, Providence College tries to be an inclusive place for all, but is it succeeding? Is PC really doing enough to make  students of color feel safe and welcomed? 

An interview with a female-identifying African-American student who wished to remain anonymous provides insight into this question. When asked how she would summarize the Black experience at the College, her response was, “Tense. Always being on guard….I feel like other people of color would agree with me. This is why we have programs like Horizons, and why we have affinity clubs like OLAS, and SHEPARD, and Afro-Am…we have these because we feel tense all the time and we need spaces to relax.” Furthermore, when asked if she ever felt uncomfortable being a student of color at a predominantly white school, she responded, “Oh absolutely.” While situations like being the only P.O.C. in a class wouldn’t normally be an issue, she is aware that there are students who, while not openly racist, do hold racial prejudices. 

Another problem she faces going to a predominantly white school is, “Always feeling smaller in the room and never being able to take up space in the same way that I feel other people feel like they can.” 

“I want to exist as a human being in a room,” she says, “but it’s hard when you’re the only one that looks like you in that room.” Despite this, she said that generally she does not feel unsafe, since while some students may believe racist sentiments, in her experience most do not seem openly malicious. She also added that her skin tone has an effect on how people treat her, as she has a lighter skin tone compared to other African Americans. 

Since 2020, there have been many discussions based on what has to be done in order to make the U.S. a safer and more inclusive place for P.O.C. One of the questions asked during the interview was what she would change in the U.S. to make it safer and more inclusive. She said that reporting hate crimes and having justice for victims, law enforcement treating them like they would any other major crime, would be one thing. Since racism is something that is learned, she also expressed a desire for education programs to teach people to unlearn racism, and how to become better people. In addition, she said there needs to be reform at the congressional level, as they are continually allowing injustices against people of color to occur. 

As someone who identifies as white, I did not understand the full scope of the BIPOC experience at the College. While the experience has improved over the years, there is still work to be done. Racism is something people learn and it can be expressed both consciously and subconsciously. While PC has a requirement that students must take a diversity course of their choosing, many of these courses focus on understanding various cultures rather than directly confronting the issue of racism. While it is not always possible to change the way a person thinks, it is possible to at least try to give them some awareness as to why the way they perceive reality is wrong and that it is never too late to learn from your mistakes and become a better person. To conclude the interview, I asked the student if there was anything she wanted readers to know. She said, “Do keep in mind that there are different types of Black people. No Black person is the same and we shouldn’t be treated as a monolith…even though some of our experiences will be the same, a lot of them will inevitably be different…you’re going to have the outgoing Black person and the shy Black person…and when, especially white people, especially racist white people look at a group of people and just see one bad thing altogether, and just see one monolith of whatever stereotype they have in their head, they are denying themselves friends. They are denying themselves diversity, fun, and friendships.”

Writer vs. Writer: Is Santa Claus Coming to Town?

by Meghan Mitchell '23 on December 8, 2022
Opinion Staff


Santa hat
Photo courtesy of clipart.info

Let Them Believe

by Sam Dietel ’23

The magic of Christmas is once again upon us. It’s time to decorate your tree, hang the stockings, and blare “Jingle Bells.” Many of us have memories—fond ones, hopefully—of a jolly fat guy in a red suit breaking into our homes, eating our cookies, and leaving gifts under the tree. The lie about Santa is far-reaching, and one that most parents push for years. This act of deceiving children is one of constant controversy. Is it right to lie to kids? Or does the magic of Christmas outweigh the harm? Numerous studies have found that there are no long-term problems for children if you encourage the Santa myth.

According to one research study, 84 percent of parents in the US lie to their children to encourage behavioral compliance. Among the lies being told, parents in the US were more adamant about lying to their kids about the existence of fantasy characters than in other countries, and 87 percent of US parents reported lying about Santa Claus. Parents reported that it’s important for the development of their children that they believe in such characters. Kids will have their entire lives to learn that magic isn’t real. Let them enjoy the fantasy while they can.

All of this being said, I’m not encouraging total dishonesty with children. This is where you need to pick and choose your battles—or in this case—lies. Research in Singapore has shown that the practice of parenting by lying, which is using deception to control children’s behavior, led to the children showing higher levels of deception to their parents and higher levels of psychosocial maladjustment. So, should we throw away all lies relating to Santa? No. You may want to consider removing the threats, though. The use of deception to exert control is a problem. If you tell a kid that they’ll be on Santa’s naughty list for not eating their vegetables, you’re contorting the magic of Christmas for your own agenda and potentially creating damaging effects that will follow the child to adulthood. The deception of Santa’s existence alone, however, is not inherently evil.

Besides, belief in Santa has an expiration date. As children grow older and continue developing, they get better at distinguishing between fantasy and reality. Age 7 is the typical age when kids discover the truth, and results indicate that parents are more upset by the discovery than the children are. Despite strong parental encouragement to believe in Santa, one study found that children reported predominantly positive reactions when they found out the truth. It was the parents who reported feeling sad at their child’s discovery. 

Not only is there no harm in believing in Santa, but there’s actually an abundance of benefits backed by years of research that shows belief in fantasy characters builds children’s ability to accept abstract concepts like generosity, change, and difference. It also serves to strengthen their ability for faith in the unobservable and intangible. Not only this, but it is an American rite of passage that many young children experience. Participating in this tradition also allows the parents to relive the childhood magic, showing the myth is for everyone and not just kids.

When determining whether to lie to kids about Santa, it is important to examine the issue from a child-centered perspective rather than adult assumptions on the impact of the deception. In my own research in the Imaginative Thought and Learning Lab, we have examined how children learn from fantasy. Studies on children’s learning through fantasy, pretend play, pretense, etc. is currently booming in the research field. Studies show that these scenarios don’t detract from learning. In fact, learning from fantasy may even increase learning. This is especially true when it comes to abstract concepts like generosity, on which the Santa myth is built. In the early stages of development, children struggle to understand abstract ideas and only think concretely. The stories of Santa Claus and other fictional characters are used to explain difficult, intangible concepts that don’t make sense yet to kids. The deception around Santa Claus ends when children are around 7, but the memories last a lifetime. There is no harm in letting children experience that fleeting magic that only a kid can experience.

Canceling Santa Claus

by Meghan Mitchell ’23

Historically, Christmas has been a powerful holiday that symbolizes giving and showing kindness to others. However, over the years, Christmas has become less about giving and more about capitalism. While there are many reasons for this, one of the most glaring reasons is Santa Claus. Santa has been a Christmas staple for many years and is known as the person who will essentially bribe kids into behaving properly with the promise of gifts under the Christmas tree if they do. Despite being around for years, is it really harmless to lie to your kids about his existence? 

While the person on whom Santa is based, Saint Nicholas, was a real person, Santa himself is not. Yet, year after year, parents feed lies to their kids telling them that if they are on the nice list, this jolly old man will sneak into their house while they’re asleep and leave presents under the tree. While this sounds cute, the idea of Santa Claus is creepy if you think about it. The lie implies that he stalks children, as he is always watching them to see if they’re misbehaving. Then he sneaks into people’s houses. Why would you lie to your kids about this? Lying to children about Santa being real could also have some unintended consequences. While the myth has good intentions, breaking and entering is still illegal, yet Santa has the audacity to judge people. 

If a child doesn’t get any presents because their parents cannot afford to get them, the child will blame themselves, thinking that they were not good this year. Furthermore, in 2016, The Huffington Post published an article suggesting that the Santa Claus mythos may be harmful to kids psychologically. Psychologist Christopher Boyle from the University of Exeter and mental health researcher Kathy McKay from the University of New England both say that this supposedly harmless white lie can severely damage a child’s trust in their parents. “All children will eventually find out they’ve been consistently lied to for years, and this might make them wonder what other lies they’ve been told,” they added. If anything, this teaches kids once they find out the truth that it’s okay to be dishonest. 

So, should you go out into the world and let all the children know Santa Claus isn’t real? No. Instead, let them believe and if they choose to ask you about it, have a mature conversation with them. Explain to them that while Santa Claus is not real, Saint Nicholas was a real person and that Santa was created as a symbol to keep the memory of his generosity alive. Just because someone is a child does not mean you cannot have mature conversations with them. They might be young, but they’re still humans with thoughts and emotions, so they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. After all, Christmas is about kindness, so society should respect children instead of lying to them. 

It’s a Tradition: McPhail’s Now Charges for Soda

by Meghan Mitchell '23 on September 29, 2022
Opinion Staff


Providence College’s on-campus bar, McPhail’s, is known among students for many great qualities, including its milkshakes, popcorn, and Thursday night bingo. The bar’s traditions are staples of the student experience. One perk many students neglect to realize that soda is free as well…or, at least, it used to be. During the first month of the semester, students have been charged one dollar for a soda at McPhail’s. While the price is not outrageous, why would McPhail’s start charging for soda now? Is free popcorn the next McPhail’s tradition to leave? Who knows? 

Even though one dollar is certainly not excessive, free soda incentivizes students to switch their consumption away from alcoholic beverages, including beers such as Bud Light. Given that a significant portion of the undergraduate student body is under 21, prioritizing alternatives to liquor should be paramount. One student is upset that the establishment has eliminated a beloved “life hack.” The reasons behind the change are unknown. One can only hope McPhail’s will reinstate its old policy or provide an explanation as to why this change has occurred after so many years. While this may seem like a small issue, college students can easily be outpriced depending on their financial situations. For certain populations, one dollar does make a difference. As students who attend an expensive school, we deserve open communication about price increases.

Four Years in the Blink of an Eye: Get Out There, Freshmen

by Meghan Mitchell '23 on September 9, 2022
Opinion Staff


The decision to attend college is an important one for Americans, whether that be a community college or an Ivy League university. While the institutions are a place for learning, colleges and universities have a social aspect unlike anything many freshmen have experienced in high school. Many go into the college of their choice knowing no one, which can lead to loneliness in the beginning. The first couple of nights at college can feel miserable for some. Feeling like the only person who does not know anyone is so isolating. It is easy to believe one has made a mistake. 

Asking people how to make friends can be intimidating, but through this experience one learns something about Providence College. There’s a simple way to make friends at PC that doesn’t involve going to parties every week. Freshmen, get out there. Don’t lock yourself in your room all day. Go to the involvement fair, join some clubs, attend BOP events, and talk to people. People cannot meet you if you are always hiding in your room. While it can be scary, especially for those who are more introverted, it is one of the best ways to make friends outside of roommates and those who you may meet in class. 

The College has so many clubs and organizations for students. Last year many clubs had a staggeringly low percentage of freshmen joining them. Many reportedly also chose to eat in their rooms rather than in public areas such as Ray, opting instead to grab a to-go box. While sometimes constantly being social can be exhausting, eating alone in your dorm room should not be made a habit. Sometimes new friends will just plop down next to you in Ray while you are eating lunch. Start a conversation; maybe you have something in common. Talk about your hobbies, classes, major, events coming up that you’re excited about, whatever. That stranger who was just looking for a place to eat their sandwich may just end up being a best friend for life. Go to bingo on Thursdays; it is a great way to meet people and engage in PC traditions. During Food Truck Friday, talk to people while waiting in line. 

Freshmen, Class of 2026, get out there. Do not hide in your room doing nothing but homework. Try to make the best of your time here at PC. You’ll never meet your best friends for life if you don’t put yourself out there. Get out there and socialize. Go Friars.