PC Program Becomes Victim of Vandalism
by Micaela Freeman ’20
Last month, as Providence College began its academic school year, the Providence College Women’s Studies Program reported an act of vandalism. Among other information from students and faculty, camera footage has confirmed that the perpetrator was a Providence College faculty member. The faculty member removed posters, signage, facts, and flyers from the office doors of the women’s studies center, located in Phillips Memorial Library.
According to the program’s website, the Women’s Studies Program at PC strives to help women learn about the differing lives and histories of women that emphasize diversity and encourages involvement in the female community at Providence. “Women’s studies courses place women’s lives, perspectives, and experiences at the center of inquiry, and emphasize race, class, gender, sexuality, culture, ethnicity, nationality, age, and ableism as intersecting categories of analysis,” according to the website.
Dr. Abigail Brooks, director of the Women’s Studies Program and associate professor, said she is appreciative of the community’s positive response to the incident, as well as the College’s motivation to handle the situation.
“The Women’s Studies program is pleased overall with the response of college leadership to this incident,” Brooks said, “a response which was prompt, serious, and well-communicated.”
On behalf of the Program, Brooks remains hopeful for the program’s future, but wants to take cautionary steps to avoid another incident. She also wants to re-establish the positive and supportive community the department has created over the past several years. She adds, however, that she still wants to see growth and development not only in the department, but in the College as a whole. “I believe I speak for many of us, both inside and outside of the women’s studies community, who would like to see more proactive work on behalf of college leadership towards creating a truly welcoming community for all students, staff, and faculty.” Brooks continues, saying, “[I hope for] a community wherein all members feel safe and supported, and wherein all can thrive.”
The reason for the anger towards the Women’s Studies Program is unknown. Upon investigating the incident, the College took rapid and appropriate steps in correcting the situation, which includes, but is not limited to, banning the individual who vandalized the office from campus and investigating the situation further.
PC’s acting president, Father Kenneth Sicard, O.P., notified the student body via email about this early last week, saying that the situation will be corrected. Sicard later added that he wants the entire PC community to know that he and other administrative staff are working to make PC a more welcoming place for everyone, saying, “As a priest, and as an administrator, I will continue to work with the faculty, staff, and students who are passionately committed to making Providence College a more loving and inclusive community.”
Sicard also said that he not only wants to correct this specific situation, but also to hopefully correct previous accusations and concerns directed towards the College. Along with the goal of making the campus a more welcoming atmosphere, Sicard said he wants every student and staff member to feel respected personally and academically on a Catholic campus.
“The vandalism that occurred recently in women’s studies, as well as previous incidents of a similar nature, are a painful reminder that we, as a community, are not yet where we should be,” Sicard said. “On a Catholic and Dominican campus, the dignity of each person should be honored, and differences respected.” Diversity is one of the major focuses in the College’s new strategic plan, and Sicard is hopeful that such an initiative can be met in the future.
Convocation Brings PC Community Together
by Micaela Freeman ’20
Providence College’s annual academic convocation and reception took place. Monday, August 27, in the Peterson Recreation Center. The event held over 1,000 freshmen, transfer students, and professors and welcomed everyone with a processional and keynote conversation with Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia.
Tatum, formerly a clinical psychologist and a Bridgewater, Massachusetts native, is known for her expertise in race relations and has brought on growth and innovation to Spelman during her presidential tenure. Tatum is also an author of many bestselling books including, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” and other conversations about race.
The event that signifies the official beginning of the academic year at Providence College has made landmark changes over the course of PC history.
Dr. Tatum, as a woman of color, spoke volumes about what it is like to be part of that community and references her book, which highlights dialogue students face everyday. She writes that the conversation of race cannot be changed, nor removed and that everyone should be speaking about it. Due to her former career, the study of racism launched her into a newfound interest that led her to both her books and recognition; Tatum also said she wants everyone, no matter their race, to be able to acknowledge the dialogue of racism.
“We are not supposed to talk about it,” Tatum said.
Because of Tatum’s address, students and professors said the event was filled with a sense of welcome.
Dr. James Beaver, a new addition to PC’s English department, said, “I was impressed by what a warm welcome the Providence College community gives to their new faculty, and it made be proud to me a part of PC.”
Beaver also noted that Monday’s events not only made him feel welcome, but also made him excited to be a part of a new community. He stated, “We hear that it is a special place, and that fact that I was welcomed so kindly by the president, provost, and current faculty really showed that firsthand. It was a great way to start off the semester.”
Lauren Keenan ’20, an Orientation Leader this fall, said that convocation did things differently than last year. Keenan said that it took a step forward in the right direction with Dr. Tatum’s address.
“I think that this year’s convocation was so important because of all of the negative media attention Providence College received last year. I think the concepts touched upon at convocation set the tone for what PC is looking to do to improve. The conversation at convocation set the tone for expectations of students regarding acceptance of all cultures, races, sexual orientations and preferences,” said Keenan.
“As an Orientation Leader, I think that convocation is a really important part of being welcomed into the Providence College community for both new students and new faculty,” said Keenan.
The event that not only introduced new professors and brought PC’s new students together, but also was a step in the right direction for PC to make the changes many students, including Keenan, are itching to see.
Tatum, who expressed both the importance of talking about race and solutions to better a community, said there is a simple solution everyone can follow.
Drawing the room to silence, Tatum gave her resolution; the “A-B-C’s,” affirming identity, building community, and cultivating leadership.
Both Keenan and Beaver said that the event created a sense of togetherness and a desire to change for the better. With Dr. Tatum’s notes, Keenan felt a sense of hope and said she is excited for the benefits of convocation.
“It also showed that we as a community not only acknowledge that there are problems on campus but also that we are looking to make changes and improve so that Friartown can be a safe and welcoming place for all students,” Keenan said.
As the new class tackles the upcoming year, the conversation this year’s convocation offered will continue throughout the year with both students and professors. With it as the official mark of the beginning of the 2018-2019 year, students now look forward to new changes, classes, and possibilites.