Gone, but Not Quite Forgotten

by The Cowl Editor on December 9, 2021

Editor's Column

Gone, but Not Quite Forgotten

Reflecting on a Year Through Photography 

by Nicole Patano ’22, Editor-in-Chief

December is finally here, which means that 2021 is coming to a close. Whether you read that sentence with relief or grief, it’s important to reflect on what has occurred during the past year. 

It’s times like these that I regret not keeping a daily journal to remember all of the “small” moments in my life. At the start of the semester, my roommates downloaded the One Second Everyday app and have since been capturing all of the mundane and meaningful moments they experience on a daily basis. Unfortunately, with my temperamental, seven-year-old cellphone, I was unable to partake. When you only have so much storage to work with, you learn to be selective about the pictures you are taking and saving. 

Thus, I would say the pictures I have taken over the course of the year represent some of the most important and special moments to me (with the occasional meme thrown in). Over Thanksgiving break, I created a “Year in Photos” to reminisce on all of the moments from 2021 that I considered important enough to take up my phone’s storage. 

Going through this process, I realized that despite (and in spite of) the COVID-19 pandemic, work, and school, I was fortunate enough to go on a number of adventures this year. I walked to the Statue of Liberty, sat on a throne of ice, hiked through the clouds, snuck into Yale’s library, frolicked through a field of sunflowers, and flew across the country and back in less than 48 hours.  

Beyond this, I realized that I was fortunate enough to spend the year with the people I love most: my parents and grandma, my best friends, and, if we’re measuring the level of love by number of photos, my cat above all others. After spending most of 2020 at home and on our own, we have to take advantage of the opportunities to go out, see others, and make the most of our lives. 

As you reflect on this past year, think about how you want it to inform the choices you make in 2022. What was lacking in your life this past year: adventure, human connection, iPhone storage? Enter the new year prepared to fill these gaps. If you make New Year’s resolutions, consider one which directly relates to the events of 2021. If you find it as difficult to even remember what happened this year as I did, consider making daily journaling one of your resolutions. You’ll thank yourself when 2023 comes around and you begin the process all over again. 

Editor’s Column

by The Cowl Editor on November 18, 2021

Editor's Column

When Was the Last Time You Thanked Yourself?

Adopt an Attitude of Self-Gratitude This Thanksgiving

Next Thursday, instead of picking up their copies of The Cowl fresh off the press, Providence College students will be picking up forks to eat turkey and pumpkin pie fresh out of the oven. 


Thanksgiving is the one day of the year that we are given time for the explicit purpose of meditating on our relationships to the people and things in our life. During the semester, we are often too busy to take stock of all we are grateful for. As much as we may want to show our appreciation for our friends, professors, and family, we may not have the time, money, or mental capacity to do so. 


When we go home for Thanksgiving, then, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to express our gratitude for those people and things who have positively impacted us. Whether we do this at the dining room table with our families, in a journal, or through meditative exercises, Thanksgiving Day is typically spent listing our blessings. Often, however, we forget to thank one of the most important people in our lives: ourselves.


It has been no easy feat getting through the COVID-19 pandemic and readjusting to life as “normal.” Be grateful to yourself for having made it this far. Whether you coasted along or barely made it across the finish line, you made it, and you deserve to celebrate that. No one is expecting you to be working two jobs or to already have your future figured out; getting out of bed in the morning is an accomplishment. 


Aisha Beau, a self-care blogger, insists that even though the practice may be awkward, “reflecting on what you’ve accomplished and how wonderful you are should become as common as an inhale, and exhale.” Self-gratitude can be one of the best forms of self-care. Take time for yourself on Thanksgiving, away from your obligations and work. 


We often feel that what we are doing at school or in our relationships is not enough. However, you are definitely doing better than you think. Remind yourself on Thanksgiving that you are doing what you can, no matter how insignificant it may feel. This year, make sure to express gratitude for yourself and all of the incredible things you have to offer. 


Give Yourself a Break

by The Cowl Editor on November 4, 2021

Editor's Column

Give Yourself a Break

Busyness and Business as Usual Can Wait

by Nicole Patano ’22

During the first week of the semester, I explained all of the plans I had for The Cowl with childlike naïvaté to Fr. Jordan. After I finished, he said to me, “Let’s talk again in a few weeks.” Now 10 weeks into the semester, I’m expecting an “I told you so” from Fr. Jordan any day now. 

Olivia wrote an opinion piece for this week’s issue on burnout and the need for rest in the schedules of college students. This time of the semester, Olivia argues, is when burnout is most prevalent among people our age. 

In theory, we had the summer to recuperate after we all hit the proverbial wall last semester. In reality, we were catching up on all of the things we missed out on because of the COVID-19 pandemic: work, internships, seeing friends and family, traveling. Since then, it’s been a constant game of catch-up. Instead of looking forward to weekends and holiday breaks to see family, have fun, and go to bed at a reasonable time, I use them as markers for when I can finally do the class readings that I merely skimmed, reply to the emails I’ve flagged but left unanswered, and begin working on the following week’s assignments. 

One of the issues is that despite dealing with the consequences of the pandemic (physical, mental, and otherwise), we’re attempting to operate at the social, intellectual, and physical levels we were at before the pandemic. Moreover, we are, in many cases, overcompensating for not having been “all there” this past year. 

Even though we’re back in person, it is unrealistic to continue with business as usual. Treat yourself and others with grace and compassion during this time. You’re not a bad person for skipping dinner with friends or turning in an assignment late. As important as your education and social life are, your mental health must be your number one priority. Which brings me to the second piece of advice Fr. Jordan gave me: “You can’t please everyone.” As much as you may want to give everyone you know an arm and a leg, at some point, you’re sure to run out of limbs.

Editor’s Column

by The Cowl Editor on October 24, 2021

Editor's Column

Taking Things As They Come

by Nicole Patano ’22

As this issue of The Cowl makes its way onto stands around campus, I will likely be checking into the Marriott—not to quarantine, and not even in Providence. Instead I will be on the other side of the country, 3,000 miles from Providence College, shirking my responsibilities as editor-in-chief, ignoring my coursework, and (hopefully) eating my weight in authentic Los Angeles street food.  

I am not the type to take a spontaneous trip to California in the middle of the semester. At this time freshman year, leaving the library to take a spontaneous walk around campus was not a thought I would have entertained. 

If you read my first editor’s column, you will remember the rude awakening I received on the first day of classes. No matter how hard I worked to make my first day as successful as possible, all of my plans went down the drain because of a faulty fire alarm. Since then, I have come to expect that my perfectly laid plans will be crumpled up, stomped on, and thrown away—in the best possible way. 

It is impossible to plan your life around certainties because one day, you’ll get a random email from a filmmaker asking you to fly out to LA to be in a documentary. Well, maybe this exact scenario won’t happen to you, but you know what I mean. 

If we have learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that you’d be lucky to just have a wrench thrown into your plans. Sometimes it felt like everything but the kitchen sink was stopping you from seeing friends or taking a trip. I still remember receiving the email from Dr. Stephen Lynch that the Liberal Arts Honors Program trip to Paris was canceled…less than one week before our scheduled departure and after I had already finished the one-credit course meant to prepare students for the trip.

Although I was sad I would not be able to walk through the streets of Paris, I appreciated being able to go home and, instead, take day trips to some of the most beautiful public libraries in Massachusetts. It wasn’t the same experience as sitting in the Bibliothèque Mazarine, but it was an experience nonetheless. 

This mentality has been invaluable as I navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and life as a college student. It is not worth dwelling on missed opportunities or stressing over potential problems. If one door closes, open another one. If it’s locked and you can’t find the key, I hear a wrench works pretty well. 

Live From Smith Center, on a Tuesday Night

by mpalmie2 on October 21, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

Live From Smith Center, on a Tuesday Night

Six Gents’ Triumphant Return to the Stage

By Nicole Patano ’22

On Tuesday, Oct. 12 at 11 p.m., Providence College students gathered in the lobby of the Smith Center for the Arts, anxiously waiting for the doors to the Ryan Concert Hall to open. Once the crowd streamed in and took their seats, the first live Six Gents show since winter 2020 commenced. 

Headed by president Sydney Cahill ’22 and vice president Jack Grosso ’22, PC’s sketch comedy group is looking forward to a year which promises drama, laughs, and fun. Cahill and Grosso were joined on stage by treasurer Aidan Benjamin ’23, secretary Analisa Pisano ’23, Abbie O’Connell ’22, and Katie Vennard ’22. While it worked out that the group consists of six gents (and ladies), the members are hoping to get more involvement, holding auditions this past Sunday.

Six Gents began with a sketch which Benjamin particularly enjoyed because “we played ourselves.” “Gents Tank,” a play on the popular “Shark Tank,” saw the three newer members of Six Gents pitching ideas for a group rebrand. After nixing “Six Gents: The Musical” and “Six Gents on Ice,” the group concluded that they should do the “Ray method,” completely changing the outside but keeping everything else the same.

During the show, the group tapped into some of the most important current issues on campus and in the United States, including the anxiety-inducing experience of asking for a to-go box at Raymond Dining Hall and the inefficiency of the USPS. They taught the audience what not to do when interviewing for a job and how to distinguish between a Dean Sears quote and an inspirational Home Goods sign. 

One of the most popular sketches was “Ghost Stories,” written by Cahill and Pisano. In it, a group of friends tells ghost stories while sitting around one of the fire pits on Slavin lawn. They soon learn that not everyone is cut out for storytelling, or paying their taxes. Another popular sketch, written by O’Connell, required Grosso (Hugo), Pisano (Kim), and Benjamin (Ted) to attend throuple’s therapy. In addition to their interpersonal problems, the throuple must also deal with the ignorance and bigotry of their therapist, played by O’Connell. 

Most of the show’s attendees were seniors, which can be attributed to Six Gents being unable to perform live last year. “When I joined Six Gents during our “COVID year,” said Benjamin, “we weren’t able to have any shows, so most people forgot about us. Now that those restrictions are being lifted, Six Gents is ready to introduce ourselves to the underclassmen who haven’t met us yet!” 

Despite the smaller venue—Six Gents usually performs in the Angell Blackfriars Theatre—and crowd size, Vennard said that the audience was “great and interactive.” One audience member, Alexander Cannon ’22, stated, “I saw the Six Gents’ performance and thought it was hilarious. As one of the 140 people in attendance, I think that they would benefit from and deserve a much bigger budget.” 

Six Gents received half of the budget they requested from Student Congress, which is necessary for purchasing props, costumes, and equipment. However, they are not letting that stand in the way of their success, planning two more shows this semester and an additional three next semester. The group’s next show date has yet to be determined, so Vennard encourages everyone to “please stay tuned with the Six Gents instagram @sixgents.”


“What is The Cowl?”

by The Cowl Editor on September 16, 2021

Editor's Column

“What is The Cowl?”

Mass Shootings’ Prevalence in American School Culture

by Nicole Patano


I did not anticipate the number of times students would ask me this question at the Involvement Fair on Sept. 5. Apparently, “Providence College’s student-run newspaper” fell short as a response—who would have thought? 

At its most fundamental, The Cowl is just as I said: a student-run newspaper. At its most literal, the cowl is the hooded part of a Dominican friar’s habit. Unfortunately, neither of these tell you much about what The Cowl really is. In the first ever issue of The Cowl, published on Nov. 16, 1935, the staff wrote, “Primarily, the COWL exists to serve the student body, not simply as a news organ, but more fundamentally as a means to foster and intensify an enthusiastic Providence College spirit and loyalty.” 

Our raison d’être has not changed much in the past 86 years; however, sometimes The Cowl’s two original goals come into conflict. It is in those instances that we must decide who we are writing on behalf of: the students or the College. Different editors-in-chief will have their own opinions, but the decision is often made on a case-by-case basis. But enough about the ethical quandaries facing me and the women and men who came before me—students can only stand in front of your table for so long before they must move on to the 50 other clubs on their list.

So what can I tell you about The Cowl that you wouldn’t know from reading it? Well, until you read this issue, I suppose. As much as The Cowl is about getting an issue on the stands each week, it is about the people who make that possible—every writer, copy editor, and editor. The relationships built on The Cowl are ones that will last long after our predecessors graduate and we follow suit. 

We may forget the articles we write (or the hundreds we read as copy editors), but we will never forget the friendships made during our time on The Cowl. Even when we don’t stay in contact with everyone with whom we once worked, we know that, wherever they are, they are thinking about The Cowl

Just a week ago, the 2012-13 news editor of The Cowl came into the office while she was visiting campus. We talked about the changes to The Cowl since she was on the staff and how the office simultaneously feels like nothing and everything is different. Before she left, she grabbed a copy of the first issue of this year’s Cowl and left a note for Maura and Addison, this year’s news editors. 

The current Cowl staff is part of an 86-year tradition. We have an obligation to continue this tradition by honoring the legacy of the staff before us and passing that legacy onto current and future staff members. If you want to be part of this tradition and find out what The Cowl truly is, next time you go to pick up an issue, pick up an application as well!




The Clothes Don’t Make the (Wo)Man

by The Cowl Editor on September 3, 2021

Editor's Column

The Clothes Don’t Make the (Wo)Man

Senior Year Offers Us a Chance to Start Over

By Nicole Patano ’22


On Saturday, Aug. 28, a day before my scheduled move-in at Providence College, I sat in my room and finally began packing the clothes I would be bringing with me to campus. It wasn’t until I started this process that I realized why I had put packing off until the last possible second. 

I never felt comfortable walking around campus, regardless of how much I tried to project the opposite. If you see me, I’m typically wearing a dress or heels or some funky, “fashion-forward” outfit. When I elected to study remotely last year, I subscribed to the “business on the top, party on the bottom” method of dress for classes, pairing blouses with sweatpants and fuzzy socks. Unfortunately, this is not a socially acceptable outfit for in-person courses.

As soon as the bustle of repeatedly climbing four flights of stairs slowed and I was left to put away what I had just packed the day before, the same tight feeling rose in my stomach. I worried about my outfit for the first day of classes, when and where I would eat lunch and dinner, and how on earth I would be able to get a newspaper published in under three days. What wasn’t on my radar was a faulty smoke detector, which provided my roommates and me with a 5 a.m. wake-up call.

While we sat in the hallway and waited for someone to fix the detector, I found myself laughing at the absurdity of the situation. Despite how much I worked to ensure I had the most perfect and productive first day of classes, my plans were foiled. Yet, as much as I cursed my bad luck, I was thankful for the extra three hours of early morning productivity. 

I wish that I had this mentality as a freshman; however, as I spoke with a fellow member of the Editorial Board Wednesday morning, she made me realize that I, and all PC students, have been given an opportunity to redo freshman year. Now, I’m not saying you will be able to make the bad roommates or bad feelings in your stomach disappear; however, I think you can use this fresh start to reflect on your experiences and make this the best “freshman” year you have ever had. 

As I have learned in my time at PC and just this week, how you respond to a situation matters more than the actual experience. The next time you find yourself faced with a difficult decision or an uncomfortable circumstance, treat it as a piece of clothing and take it off, so to speak. You will feel much lighter as a result. 

And if this year doesn’t pan out, you know what they say: third time’s a charm (seniors excluded). 

Seniors’ Final Words: Student Leaders Talk Social Justice at PC

by kwheele4 on May 7, 2021


Seniors’ Final Words: Student Leaders Talk Social Justice at PC

by Nicole Patano ‘22, Co-Asst. Head Copy Editor, and Savannah Plaisted ‘21, Opinion Co-Editor

The class of 2021 has been through a great deal—the second semester of their junior year was interrupted by the pandemic and a transition to fully remote learning for the first time in their lives, and through their senior year they have had to cope with going between in-person and remote classes. 

The class is now graduating into a not yet fully recovered economy and one of the most difficult years to get accepted into postgraduate schools due to an increased interest in students returning for postgraduate degrees.

The seniors also had to endure all of this against the backdrop of the largest civil rights movement in recent decades. In response to this, schools, businesses, and organizations across the country have been forced to reconcile with diversity, equity, and inclusion issues; of which Providence College has been no exception. 

Even through all of this, the senior class worked incredibly hard. They did not allow the immense obstacles they faced to dissuade them from working towards social change on PC’s campus and beyond. In many cases, student leaders took charge in pushing for social change on campus. 

The Cowl reached out to 50 seniors who have been active and involved in student organizations leading social justice initiatives on campus with four prompts that they could respond to. Students were not required to respond to all prompts; however, some chose to. Since most of the responses The Cowl received pertained to students’ opinions on diversity, equity, and inclusion on PC’s campus, the article has centered this theme. This article is meant to provide a platform for these students to reflect on their time at PC and voice their opinions on the status of diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus, one last time as undergraduates at the College. While some students allowed The Cowl to share their names, we ask that the privacy of those students who chose to use their initials or to remain anonymous be respected. The Cowl selected the responses below for publication because they best capture the sentiments and hopes of many students who responded to The Cowl’s request for comment and because they pertain to the article’s intended goal of highlighting the experience of doing social activism at the College. The Cowl thanks all of the seniors who provided responses for this article. 


“What would you like to say to PC administration before you graduate?” 

CR ’21: “In a short few weeks, I will be graduating from this institution, burnt-out, exhausted, and frustrated with the lack of initiative displayed to address various institutional issues and the constant gaslighting/defusing of student/faculty activism. Unfortunately, PC never felt like home to me. I constantly think about what my undergraduate experience would’ve been like if I transferred to an institution that took student/faculty demands seriously. Thus, I urge you all to re-evaluate the ways in which you silence minoritized students & faculty members by your lack of action.”

Anonymous ’21: “Providence College, you have made a tough, loud woman out of me. It was, however, at the cost of discrimination and exclusion.” 

Jolssen Rodriguez ’21: “I can vividly see the more power you have, the less control you have. Remember why you chose your position and remember the people you are supposed to support (us, the students) versus the people you like to support.” 

Estarlyn Hiraldo ’21: “Stop settling for less. Put the students first.” 

Emili Castro ’21: “As a BIPOC student, I rarely felt a part of the Friar Family. I know I am not the only one—Providence College, do better.”  


“How would you describe your experience at Providence College?” 

Estarlyn Hiraldo ’21: “My experience at Providence College was one to be remembered, but never had again. I did not feel supported as underrepresented students should be. But I am grateful for the challenges and hardships that made me a stronger person.”

Junielly Vargas ’21: “It was the best of times and the worst of times but I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. Thank you for pushing me to the strongest version of myself.”

Talysha Rivera ’21: “I would describe my experience at Providence College as a microcosm of our American capitalistic society. The racism, sexism, classism, and the anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment on top of the pressure to succeed academically and prepare for your career is extremely exhausting. Providence College taught me the harsh reality of the society we live in and has encouraged me to create my own reality and find security in myself.”

Jolssen Rodriguez ’21: “I was forced to grow up and not into a “presentable adult” but to grow up and realize that the microcosm of PC was really the front-line battle of survival and resilience. I am stronger because I had to be, not because I wanted to be.”

Anonymous ’21: “Honestly, frustration. I understand that change moves slow, but that slow movement towards progress sometimes seems like an intentional effort to disempower and frustrate students so that they give up in calling for change.”

Shannon Sullivan ’21: “My time at PC has changed my view of the world. I have grown a lot during my four years, and I attribute much of that to my role as a student leader fighting for change on campus.”


“What is your hope for the future of Providence College?”

Anonymous ’21: “My hope for the future of Providence College is to hold students accountable for their wrongdoings, actually listen to staff and faculty, and follow up with action. I hope marginalized, BIPOC, and LGBTQ students are valued and respected more by their peers, staff, faculty, and administration.”

Julia Murphy ’21: “My hope for the future of Providence College is that PC keeps striving to be a place where everyone feels at home and can thrive—regardless of their race, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, etc.—not only academically, but socially and emotionally…Throughout my time at PC, I have felt loved, welcomed, and supported every step of the way. It is my hope that every single student is provided with the opportunities and relationships to experience those same things.”

Jolssen Rodriguez ’21: “I hope PC learns what it means to hold the name “Providence.” I want to return to PC and see the city of Providence be accurately, equitably, and honorably represented and, if not, then have a donor pay to change your name.”

Estarlyn Hiraldo ’21: “I hope that going forward, Providence College becomes a more inclusive and less narrow-minded institution, more accepting of diverse identities and perspectives even if they do not align with traditional Catholic values.”

Carly Johnson ’21: “My hope for the future of PC is to create an atmosphere that is more diverse and accepting of every student. I feel that progress needs to be made to ensure that our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ community members can feel wholly safe and included on campus. I also hope that students can feel accepted regardless of their religious beliefs.”

Kevin Schwalm ’21: “My hope is that the College will continue to re-evaluate how it handles different issues for students on campus, so it can truly become an inclusive environment for every student.” 

Anna Russo ’21: “I hope for a more collective Friar Family that is socially responsible and filled with more active listeners.”

Shannon Sullivan ’21: “I hope to come back and see long-demanded changes implemented. In essence, I hope PC becomes a better and more welcoming environment in the years to come.”


“What or who has been your safe haven during your time at PC?” 

Anonymous ’21: “Other student activists such as those in BMSA, Shepard, PC DSA, PC CAR. I probably would have transferred if I didn’t know that other people were helping fight for change.”

Estarlyn Hiraldo ’21: “If it wasn’t for my family, friends, club safe spaces like WDOM and OLAS, and mentors like Liz Lombard, Ralph Tavares, Taiwo Adefiyifu, the Personal Counseling Center, my professors (to mention a few), I would not have persevered during my time at PC. They’ve held me up at my lowest points.”

Jolssen Rodriguez ’21: “Thank you to the students, faculty, and staff who saw me and smiled. Thank you to the student leaders and activists that allowed me to create my space on campus and understand who I am.”


Strong, Resilient, and Beautiful: Women Empowered Creates Own Community

by The Cowl Editor on April 15, 2021


Photo courtesy of Women Empowered.

by Savannah Plaisted ’21 and Nicole Patano ’22

Opinion Editor and Asst. Copy Editor

Before Easter break, The Cowl had the opportunity to interview members of Women Empowered’s executive board and discuss the importance of the club’s presence on Providence College’s campus. 

Women Empowered was founded in 2012 to give a space to women of color on campus in which they can unapologetically be themselves. According to current president, Talysha Rivera ’21, the main goals of Women Empowered are “to create a support group for women of color on campus and to be an advocacy group for women on campus.” 

The group serves as a safe space for women of color at the College and allows for open discussion in order for voices that are frequently marginalized to be heard. One of the biggest successes of Women Empowered is the community and sisterhood that the members create. At the start of each Women Empowered meeting, members have time to talk about how they are feeling and how their week was. “I don’t think anyone comes in with negative energy,” said Ekua Boakye-Mensah ’22, vice president of Women Empowered. “You leave your problems at the door.”

While Women Empowered is typically a member club of the Board of Multicultural Student Affairs, at the beginning of last semester, the executive board decided to take a break from BMSA to devote their attention to Women Empowered. This decision mainly came in response to the events of last summer, including the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Rivera explained, “At that time, we were all really drained with continuously speaking, and it felt like a time to be there for each other rather than speak out.” Rivera and Boakye-Mensah emphasized that it is not the responsibility of Women Empowered to educate people now, when they are ready to listen, because the group has been doing it for years with little support or thanks.  

Women Empowered’s decision to leave BMSA allowed the club to better support and empower its members, which has always been its main goal. Nicola Calabrese ’22, one of the club’s public relations coordinators, stated that Women Empowered has “definitely always been for ourselves and our own journey.” Expanding on this, Boakye-Mensah commented, “Within our own club, I can definitely say we make a difference…but when I was in BMSA and these other spaces where people ask us to come and speak, it just feels like we’re just there as a demographic.”

There is a large mental health component to Women Empowered that makes it a necessary space on campus for women of color. “Because PC is a PWI [predominantly white institution],” Calabrese shared, “you’re surrounded by people who may not look like you or experience the same things that you do, so it’s nice to be centered and be surrounded by people who are feeling similar things that you are.” Rivera added, “It’s just a good feeling to feel that you can have a space to speak your truth and not feel judged.”

In addition to their weekly meetings, the events which Women Empowered organizes provide a space for women of color to express themselves unapologetically. In previous years, Women Empowered hosted a retreat for women of color entering PC in order to provide them with a welcoming environment early on in their college experience. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Women Empowered has continued to be a source of sisterhood for many of the women of color on campus. 

Two major events that Women Empowered holds annually are Naturalista and Herstory. According to Rivera, Naturalista is “a way of supporting Black-owned businesses while also embracing natural hair products and the natural beauty of women of color that doesn’t fit into the standard of what being beautiful is.” The event includes a barber, henna, eyebrow threading, and holistic care products for women of color. PC students can even sell their own products, such as swimwear and artwork.  

This year, Herstory was held from March 8-12 in the Slavin overlook lounge. The event was titled “Herstory: Women Empowered in Perspective” and included personalized images of women of color on campus with biographies that included how the women understand the world around them. Explaining the significance of Herstory, Calabrese said, “[It] showcases the people who might feel like they’re overshadowed on campus, so it gives them the spotlight.” 

As a club specifically for women of color at a predominantly white institution, Women Empowered has been intentionally and inadvertently belittled, invalidated, and ignored by members of the PC community. After years of fighting for an office space, Women Empowered was finally granted one in Slavin, but Calabrese describes the room as a “closet-looking thing with no windows.” Women Empowered’s events are also not widely publicized or attended by the College, unlike many other clubs on campus. 

Despite these challenges, Women Empowered continues to be a force to be reckoned with. “We’re a group of bad bitches,” said Rivera. “Even though our voices aren’t heard…we still find the power and resilience to stand up for ourselves.” 

Rivera, Boakye-Mensah, and Calabrese are not disheartened by the obstacles they encounter. Boakye-Mensah knows that “for us to have our space and for us to be on the front lines, is just going to encourage other generations.” 

Women Empowered meets weekly on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. over Zoom. Meeting information can be found on the club’s Instagram page, @womenempowered_pc. 


Expanding the Echo Chamber: PC Community Attends Women’s Week Student Panel

by The Cowl Editor on March 4, 2021


The student panel was just one of a number of events presented by PC Democrats commemorating Women’s Week.
Photo Courtesy of pixaby.com.

by Nicole Patano ’22

Asst. Head Copyeditor 

Imagine reporting a sexual assault to a public safety officer and having them tell your parents, “Well, she was drinking, so of course it would happen.” Imagine being picked up and pressed into a wall and having a fellow student jokingly yell, “Get a room!” Imagine being touched by a professor and then having to ask yourself if it was inappropriate or normal.

Unfortunately, for many college-aged women across the country and on Providence College’s campus, these are disturbingly common realities. In fact, these are just three of several experiences shared by female students at PC on Monday, March 1 during a student panel which kicked off the PC Democrats’ celebration of Women’s Week. 

Hosted by PC Democrats and co-sponsored by the Board of Multicultural Student Affairs, Women Will, Women Empowered, and SHEPARD, the student panel focused on perspectives on being a woman and doing gender at PC. The panel included seven female students who shared their experiences as women at the College, as well as their suggestions for how PC can counter these experiences.

Shannon Sullivan ’21, external co-president of PC Democrats, began the conversation by asking the panel to explain how they see or experience gender inequality on campus. Kayla Luyo ’22, who represented SHEPARD, responded with a personal story about her experience transitioning from an accepting hometown to the College as a lesbian. “I was never closeted. I never had to hide who I was. I had to go through the process of closeting myself while being at PC, and that was very traumatic,” Luyo stated. 

Other panelists commented on the difficulty of navigating PC’s campus as a woman. President of Women Empowered, Talysha Rivera ’21, said, “Being a woman, I am very aware of my body and my space.” As many of the panelists emphasized, this is typically a unique experience for women on campus. Rivera explained that this is because “men tend to dominate more spaces and feel comfortable in doing so because they never had to think about their body as an object.” 

Kara Berlin-Gallo ’21 and Tess Jacobson ’22, representing PC Democrats and Women Will, respectively, spoke on the particular issue of victim-blaming on PC’s campus. Berlin-Gallo stressed that all of the responsibility is on women when it should be on men: “Why do girls always have to protect each other and look out for each other…? Why can’t we hold men accountable and teach them not to look at women as sexual objects?” This was a theme panelists and attendees returned to throughout the event.

Jacobson shared her experience as a survivor of sexual assault going through the Title IX reporting process. Her story is the first mentioned in the opening of this article. She explained that it is “sad to see that the resources and the people that are supposed to help you are also bringing you down in that way.” Jacobson, like her fellow panelist and Women Will executive board member, Jobie Hereford ’23, do not think the College is doing an adequate job of creating a safe environment for survivors at PC. “It feels like the school wants [survivors] to be as quiet as possible and not tell anyone and not be proactive in seeking the justice they deserve, which I think is a major issue,” Hereford expressed. 

A significant portion of the event was spent discussing ideas for how the College can create a campus environment in which women feel safe, respected, and included. Many panelists and attendees highlighted the need for a curriculum which is diverse, inclusive, and centers intersectional histories and experiences of injustice. 

Berlin-Gallo explained why she thinks it is important to change the curriculum so that it elevates the voices of other departments and programs, such as the Black studies and the women’s and gender studies programs. “It is the College’s responsibility,” Berlin-Gallo stated, “to incorporate the voices of people that have been marginalized or that have been ignored.” 

Dr. Abigail Brooks, director of the women’s and gender studies program, suggested an improvement to the current curriculum which would create a more welcoming culture that embraces and respects diversity and difference. “Ideally, all students would take at least one required course, but better yet, a sequence of courses, that was intersectional and interdisciplinary, wherein everyone would be in classroom spaces reading, listening, discussing, and learning about these lived histories and current realities,” said Brooks. 

Some attendees unmuted and others utilized the chat to share their thoughts on the need for a more inclusive curriculum such as the one proposed by Brooks. Jenny Chen ’23 commented that “[the Development of Western Civilization program’s] inherent colonialist and white supremacist and patriarchal narratives are harmful to equality and liberation.” Dr. Despina Prassas of the theology department noted, “There is a general consensus that DWC has to change. We just don’t know how…” Savannah Plaisted ’21, another panelist and external co-president of PC Democrats, cited the 2020 Demands for Redress, which were signed by 29 student organizations, was also cited as a potential solution. Article I, Section D of the student demands offers three possible paths the College may take to restructure the existing DWC program; however, the most important consideration in creating a new curriculum is that it has widespread student approval. 

Beyond curriculum, panelists and attendees suggested several other ways the College can create a safer and more inclusive community. One suggestion was to allow the Vagina Monologues, which has been forbidden from being performed on campus since 2006 under the tenure of Father Brian Shanley, O.P., to be performed on campus once again. 

Sullivan proposed the College begin teaching the idea of “yes means yes” consent in place of “no means no.” Under this framework of consent, if a person receives any answer other than yes, then the answer is no. Chen emphasized that “it doesn’t have to be a sexual transgression in order to be a violation of consent”; any unwanted touches by another student, or by a professor, can violate a person’s consent. 

An important conversation arose after the panel section of the event officially ended when Nick Sailor ’17, director of training and education for diversity, equity, and inclusion, voiced his concern about how “these conversations feel like they happen in an echo chamber.” 

Some panelists and attendees thought the turnout of faculty and administration was greater at this event than other events regarding women’s issues, due in large part to Plaisted personally inviting a number of faculty and administration members . Rivera was disheartened as she explained that in her three years on Women Empowered’s executive board, she had never seen so many faculty and administration attend their events as she saw at the Women’s Week event. She explained that “it’s always been other women of color” attending events held by Women Empowered. 

Dr. Rick Battistoni of the political science and public and community service departments thought the panelists were being too fair to College faculty and administration, writing in the chat, “I am embarrassed by how FEW of us attended this!” Battistoni also shared how he felt listening to the panelists: “I was angry. I’m angry to hear year after year women tell stories that are like these stories. And I’m angry to hear year after year people talk about changes in the curriculum and they don’t happen.” 

While the student panel, a novel event which will become a staple event in PC Democrats’ Women’s Week, began the process of expanding the echo chamber surrounding women on Providence College’s campus, it is clear that there is much more work to be done to make campus a place where women can feel comfortable and represented. 

For Rivera, it is “important to create spaces for women where they can talk about their experiences and feel valid.” For Chen, students “shouldn’t have to sit in violent classrooms.” For all panelists and attendees, listening to women and validating their experiences on campus does not end with this event. 

PC Democrats have sponsored events for Women’s Week all week. On Tuesday, a faculty panel discussed the topic of feminisms inside and outside the classroom. The Campus Ministry women’s study group presented on the harmful effects of pornography on Wednesday. The Board of Programmers rounded out the week with an installation on women’s achievements throughout history. The Zoom recordings of this and Tuesday’s events can be found on the women’s and gender studies program’s Facebook page.