Nurses Striking Worldwide
Currently, there are massive nursing strikes and hospital walkouts in both the US and the UK. Though the reasons for these international nursing strikes correlate, the circumstances differ. These differences stem from healthcare systems, as the UK has universal healthcare, and the US does not.
Both the strikes in New York and in London have to do with post-COVID-19 working conditions. Staff shortages make for unsafe working conditions, and excessive patient input and cyclical staff sickness weigh heavily on the healthcare community. In the UK, hospitals have tremendous staff shortages and are overworking their nurses, who demand higher wages. One UK protester said, “With the high stress and skill that our work represents, we desire the wage we give” (Daily).
Although British and American nurses are striking for similar reasons, it is important to consider the different healthcare systems between these nations. In the US, hospitals are mainly for-profit organizations; therefore, healthcare becomes expensive. Although there are non-profit hospitals in the US, they usually charge the same as for-profit hospitals. Providence Hospital (a non-profit) serves as an example of why nonprofits are similar to for-profits: “Providence turned to the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. The firm’s assignment was to maximize the money that Providence collected from its patients” according to five current and former executives (New York Times). They often juxtapose their purpose against their profit prioritization. They might as well just call themselves for-profit. But how else would they compete with for-profits?
Also, due to the privatization of hospitals in the US, travel nurses and healthcare workers get paid far more. In the US, nurses get paid the highest in the world (not factoring in their higher student debt—the US nursing debt average is 44,999 USD, while the UK nursing debt average is 27,295 pounds). In the UK, all nurses get paid roughly the same depending on their education level (30-45k pounds). This is far less than the national average of $82,750 in the US. Because of the higher pay, the US nurse labor force is larger and, on average, provides higher quality care. Also, privatized hospitals in the US can move nurses around to avoid staff shortages and unsafe
labor conditions. The US pays travel nurses more. The UK does not have this ability because their universal healthcare system pays nurses the same.
This divergence in pay and quality can be seen in various aspects of healthcare. For example, ambulances in the US have an average fee of USD 1200, whereas in the UK, they are entirely free in an emergency. The US sees frequent fatalities because people want to avoid the cost of calling for help. However, this price discrepancy does not account for the significant disparity in the quality of care. In the US, the average ambulance comes in around 8 minutes. This is minimal compared to the record-low average in the UK of 60 minutes in 2022.
These strikes are historical, as the COVID-19 pandemic shook global health and gave the world a new appreciation for healthcare. The different systems in the US and UK may foster different circumstances for these strikes, but internationally, it is undeniable that without nurses, the physical and emotional health of patients would be disastrous.
Finding a Shark in the Water: PC Entrepreneurship Society Hosts Shark Tank Event
By: Olivia Coletti ’24
On May 4, Providence College’s Entrepreneurship Society held their Shark Tank competition. The competition was based on NBC’s hit show of the same name, with the judges consisting of the board of PC’s own Entrepreneurship Society. All 7 competitors had innovative ideas and designs, but Whizard’s team stood out and won the competition. Charlie Feinstein ’24, Will Phelan ’24, Max Miraglia ’24, and Dylan McMorrow ’24 sold the sharks on their vision along with their group’s diverse skill set and work ethic. The winning criteria considered innovation, differentiation in the macro- and micro-markets, presentation skills, presentation and planning, cohesivity, and communication.
Though their platform seemed like an average MLB sports statistics website, their unique formula, team, and goals brought together a package like no other. They showed evident care for their consumer and acknowledged the lack of understanding and benefits of sports betting as a whole, reflecting on the club’s entrepreneurial values. The judges saw a lack of these platforms in the market with their attributes. Whizard’s presentation was remarkably professional, cohesive, and organized. They brought a statistically unique appeal while considering how macroeconomic factors, marketing, customer loyalty, and education come into play. From Letter rating bets, their social media and ranking system, specifically their data proven, “A+” return, was well-marketed and unique. It had an effortless appeal to its target audience: the uninformed bettor. It gives them easily accessible statistics and from a trustworthy source through their loyalty, as 95% of sports bettors today don’t look at sports-related statistics.
When asking Feinstein ’24, the formula creator, how he came up with the algorithm, he stated: “Definitely a process. It has been a lot of work the past two years.” Further, when discussing the difference between their platform’s equation compared to Vegas, he states: “My answer to that is we are not trying to beat Vegas. We are trying to beat the 95% of people that have no clue what they’re doing when they bet. My lines and totals are very similar to Vegas’ opening odds for that game. But Vegas adjusts their lines and odds based on what people are betting to guarantee they make a profit.”
Whizard’s team can comprehend that the house always wins, but that they want to provide an alternative to the house; an alternative that understands and cares more for the investor with more trustworthy facts.
The team not only offers a unique algorithm to give their bettors an edge, but premium loyalty packages, differing in player detailed analytics. Also, there are merchandise items sold with their creative logo. These items with their logo are where Feinstein’s ’24 teammates come into play. The merchandise isn’t bought for style, it’s a community. A community fueled through humor, constant content, and real-time statistics updates. It is brand loyalty and image that are the body that brings life to the algorithm. This algorithm is not sold alone; it is sold with a marketing team and brand image ready for takeoff. Their social media platforms are gearing up and their website set up smoothly, all transactions safely made through Shopify. Whizard has a following of 50,000 and over 150,000 liked videos on Tik Tok. Putting that into perspective, PC’s has around 5,000 students. That would be our student body 30 times. And that’s just likes, not views. They have a total of 191,200 views on Tik Tok. Also, they have significant Instagram and Twitter followings and are working hard daily to provide not only content but statistics. Ultimately, the Shark Tank competition shows how such potential with their creative brand approach begins with social media engagement in their videos.
This competition was full of bright students with brilliant ideas, the sharks emphasized this decision to be difficult. The 7 other contenders were hopefuls in the competition, but the Whizards had out-whized the competition. PC’s Entrepreneurship Club hopes to continue holding such competitions to embolden such entrepreneurial values and creative outlooks.
PC as a Polis: Humanities Forum Hosts Professor Bartlett on Importance of Rhetoric
“Rhetoric is a loaded gun,” a fitting metaphor included in Professor Robert Bartlett’s Humanities Forum in the Ruane Center for Humanities on March 27. Professor Bartlett is an award-winning professor and author from Boston College and Emory University. He specializes in ancient Greek political classic philosophy and discussed the power of persuasion with the Providence College student body by highlighting the importance of the Aristotelian Rhetoric.
Bartlett is exceptionally well-versed in Aristotle’s book, Rhetoric, as his principal area of research is classical political philosophy. This book, like many of Aristotle’s works, has been a crucial philosophical vessel, handed down through generations of brilliant minds. Bartlett spoke fluidly and passionately, utilizing Aristotle’s works to describe how the early philosopher laid out passions to speak to people. Even philosophers such as Hobbes say “he was the worst teacher, politician and ethicist, but his rhetoric was rare.”
Barlett enthusiastically reviewed the three kinds of essential Aristotelian rhetoric: deliberative, judicial, and display. He cohesively explained how these three kinds of rhetoric often have three types of use: the noble, the good, and the bad. Deliberative rhetoric is often used to pursue a future goal, either to persuade or shun. Judicial is often an accusation or defense of something usually concerned with past acts. Finally, display is seen in praise speeches and usually connects us to the present tense. He also goes over the modes of persuasion: ethos, pathos and logos, which are notions of Aristotelian rhetoric often taught in PC’s Development of Western Civilization program. These modes build a sense of trust and conviction, but that conviction is not proof. Here lies the danger of rhetoric, as Bartlett explains.
Bartlett transitions to the point that with this understanding of rhetoric, there is also power. Both lies and truth can persuade humans, which is the ultimate paradox. In echoing this message, Bartlett uses the metaphor of a gun. He states that proof itself is misleading—what is proof at its very core? Bartlett states, “If I can get you angry, I haven’t proved anything, but I have instilled in you a conviction that my policy is better.” Herein lies the danger of rhetoric. Rhetoric has an “odor,” as Bartlett describes, that attaches to a phrase, a taste of manipulation, perhaps. But, as Aristotle describes, we do need rhetoric, and it comes to defending what is faithful and just. Bartlett explains that if you think the cause you serve is right, you’re being naïve without rhetoric to provide proof. If you become alive because a speaker is trying to move you, you become more self-aware and equipped against rhetoric’s bullet.
Bartlett used former U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2008 “A More Perfect Union” speech as a modern-day example of the power of rhetoric. Bartlett described the stark recovery associated with that speech in the 2008 primary. Before the speech, due to scandals involving his childhood reverend, it was viable to speculate that Obama had a strong for toward America. After the speech, that speculation was indisputably invalid. Instead, Obama’s rhetoric was powerful enough to provide proof of his love of the country in his 2008 bid for the U.S. presidential election.
After the forum, there was a question-and-answer period. Having listened to Bartlett, I reflected on how there is a unanimous value in an individual who demonstrates actions and principles over words. Someone who is always there when needed, reliable yet flies under the radar. I asked, “Considering Aristotle’s view of rhetoric with persuasion, would he view an implicit and ‘short and sweet’ individual, who listens and speaks only when needed with strong rhetorical tactics in itself?” He agreed that it could be a rhetorical strategy to withhold using words. Bartlett stated, “keeping things simple is powerful because you are being selective with your usage. The denunciation of rhetoric, perhaps in a sense, is rhetorical. However, there can be something overblown to rhetoric.” The word overblown even alluded to his gun metaphor, quite a remark.
Throughout this humanities forum, Bartlett used his widespread knowledge of Aristotelian rhetoric to emphasize its power and value in contemporary forms of U.S. dialogue, especially in political and academic spaces. After assessing Bartlett’s talk, we should all aim to understand the power of our loaded guns of language.
Facebook Whistleblower Exposes Company’s Influence: How the Social Media Company’s Algorithms Can Harm Users
Frances Haugen shook the public’s perceptions of social media when she anonymously filed complaints with federal law enforcement about Facebook Inc., now known as Meta Platforms, Inc. Haugen worked as a product manager at Facebook before quitting in May due to her concern with the company’s power, motives, and harm imposed on society.
In October, Haugen disclosed tens of thousands of pages of internal documents to the Wall Street Journal that she believed to prove Facebook knew about and chose to ignore the harm their platforms cause. She has testified before Congress twice, most recently on December 1.
A specific issue Haugen has with Meta is its use of algorithms that drive popular features, like the main feeds in Facebook and Instagram, which impact people’s decisions and mental health. Facebook and Instagram users are starting to recognize the repetition of ads and genres of content in their feeds. This repetition is no coincidence, as it is the work of algorithms. Algorithms, or simple sets of instructions or logistics, are taken to an extreme at Meta, with billions of dollars spent to make even more money for the company. Meta’s advertising revenues were at an all-time high in 2020, at $84 billion. While Meta’s algorithms have proved successful for the company financially, they have also produced the exact outcomes Meta seems to want.
One of the many ways Haugen saw Meta’s apparent neglect for its users’ well-being was its unwillingness to take steps which would limit polarization and prevent the spread of misinformation. “Friction,” she describes, is a way Meta could prevent the spread of misinformation and false news. Friction is any intervention which would slow down the process of spreading information, such as pop-ups or tabs to ask the user to read before sharing an article. Haugen believes that these interventions can dramatically help reduce the number of falsified articles being spread.
The main focus of Haugen’s complaints is that Meta specifically fosters an extremely negative environment for its Facebook and Instagram users. Photos by Instagram influencers, whose content is often boosted by the platform’s algorithms, can easily be altered, giving the viewer an unrealistic idea of the human body. Five Israeli Ph.D. students created the app Facetune in 2013, which allows people to edit their faces and alter their bodies in an image. Facetune is so popular among social media users that it is currently being used as Meta’s case study on user acquisition.
“Within two years, their company, called Lightricks, had generated about $18 million in revenue from the 4.5 million downloads of Facetune, which in 2015 cost between $3 and $4,” according to estimates by Business Insider. These statistics support just how big the photo-editing boom is.
Meta’s algorithms control what people around the world see every day. The algorithms exist to keep the user entertained, but to what extent is entertainment manipulated? According to Haugen, “The mechanics of our platform are not neutral.” She believes that Meta increasingly polarizes people’s opinions. She connects this polarization to politics in America, and the divide between the “right” and the “left” in the media and on social media.
“User-generated content is something companies have less control over. But they have 100% control over their algorithms,” Haugen stated. “Facebook should not get a free pass on choices it makes to prioritize growth, virality and reactiveness over public safety.”
Haugen advocates for changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which states, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” In essence, Facebook is currently protected by this law from being sued for what its users post.
In Henry Adams’ 1907 autobiography, he describes his fear of technology’s power: “At the rate of progress since 1800, every American who lived to the year 2000 would know how to control unlimited power.” This sentiment from 100 years ago, foreshadows the widespread control that Facebook and its social media platforms have on society.
Seizing the Means of Humanitarianism: A Debate on Marx and Engels’ Teachings
On Friday, Nov. 5, in the Ruane Center for Humanities, Dr. Robert Wyllie of Ashland University and Dr. Daniel Mahoney of Assumption College debated if Karl Marx was a humanitarian. The formal question of this public dispute was: Do the teachings of Marx and Engels in “The Communist Manifesto” advance a humane vision of individual and social flourishing? Both Wyllie and Mahoney had strong arguments. In taking the yea position, Wyllie claimed Marx’s teachings did advance a humane vision of individual and social flourishing. Mahoney, however, took the nay position, stating Marx was the opposite of humane.
The tension was high as Mahoney claimed Marx was a Machiavellian relist. He claimed that Marx aimed for a metaphysical rebellion against the human condition rather than the humanitarian aim of social justice. Another strong point was that Marx did not even believe in politics and thought politics was nothing more than something categorically determined by underlying factors such as race, class, and gender. He thought Marx viewed politics as a separate realm of everything, which according to Mahoney, is false.
Mahoney used a correlative example of how the south has many impoverished rural areas where political votes are primarily red. People often question why they would vote against the party that would be more apt to economically benefit them. He uses this as a prime example of how Marx is wrong in thinking politics doesn’t have factors other than economics. In the rural South, factors such as race, prejudice, and religious belief could play a huge role in determining a vote. Thus, Mahoney doesn’t see Marx as egalitarian, rather a dictator who views people as masses who care only about money and labor.
Wyllie combatted these claims by first addressing Mahoney’s arguments. His overarching and powerful point was that Marx is most definitely a Humanitarian because his goals are based on empathy and compassion, two major humane ideals. Wyllie claimed because of Marx’s labor theory, philosophers can evaluate the economic worth of something. Marx thinks of labor as work and the art of the romantic genius where you make the world you live in. The Industrial Revolution alienates us from our work and labor. Wyllie used a vivid modern-day example to bring this to life. We as consumers using Amazon, and our relationship as consumers with the provider being entirely self-indulgent. We may consider our purchases to be a product of child labor, but it is easier to ignore this because of our lack of consumer/producer interaction. There is a clear void between our transactions. Marx’s labor theory is the only way to define this consumer alienation economically. To Wyllie, Marx is an empath and reflects on humanitarian ideals accordingly.
Mahoney claimed Wyllie’s response did not sound like Marx’s. Instead, it sounded more like Rousseau’s regarding the weakening power of the soul in a society that overvalues the economy. Wyllie was flattered by this response but still felt he represented Marx. This was the climax in the debate that indeed determined the outcome.
Votes were tallied, and although they were marginally close, the audience favored Mahoney’s nay position. The teachings of Marx in this disputation did not advance a humane vision of individual and social flourishing. Although this was the outcome, it is tough to deny that Marx’s ideas were based on a premise of humane ideals. Compassion and equality are things we could use more of in society.
The Importance of Prioritizing Mental Health During Finals Week
The Importance of Prioritizing Mental Health During Finals Week
by Olivia Coletti ’24
Finals week is a stressful time for any student, and, as the week begins, it is essential to find the ways to manage one’s mental health. Various studies have proven that stress and heightened anxiety lead to people overlooking things. Thus, when exam time comes, if anxiety is at an all-time high, it will work against you.
Some ways to put your mental health first this week are by creating a schedule, eating right, and studying hard, while also giving yourself well-deserved breaks. PsychCentral explains that “how you approach studying matters as much as what you do.” Staying positive, pacing yourself, and avoiding negative thoughts and comparisons will allow you to focus on the subject material. Other study tips include studying in different locations and finding where you work most productively. Ultimately, as shown by these studies, maintaining a positive mindset is important to remain productive and keep mental strength.
One club that has had a major impact this semester on the conversation of mental health at PC is Active Minds. The club celebrated Mental Health Awareness month with events throughout the entire month of October while also bringing awareness to taboo topics.
Alison Malmon, the founder and executive director of the national branch of Active Minds, made it her mission to change the way we approach mental health in the United States. She lost her brother, a Columbia University senior who concealed his depression, to suicide. His silence hurt him further: “The depression had created a space for him where he felt like he was the only one, that all of it was his fault,” says Malmon.
It is important to be open with feelings this week, check in with each other, and not let stress boil over during exams. Your grades are not a reflection of who you are, just your performance in one college class. Even though it is important to work hard, remember to stay balanced.
You never know what a student may be dealing with, whether it is a sick parent, financial concerns, or mental health issues. According to a nationwide survey by the American Addiction Center, “The biggest stressor for students was exams (89 percent).” That is a massive percentage of the student body. If the majority of students at PC are at peak stress this week, there will be obvious tension on campus, so much so that it can affect both the academic and social lives of the student body. The immense amount of stress students may feel because of their exams is a reminder to be kind to both yourself and others this week.
According to Purdue University professor Daniel Mroczek, “Some students will worry a little bit, some will stress a lot, and others will literally get sick. In my career, I’ve seen three nosebleeds during final exams.”
Take care of yourselves this week. We are almost there, Friars.
Breaking the Stigma as a Friar Family: Active Minds and BOP Hold Annual Display for Collegiate Suicide
The 1,000 Voices Vigil on Slavin Lawn was a commemorative display for collegiate suicide victims in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month. It was collaboratively orchestrated by Providence College’s Board of Programmers (BOP) and the Active Minds club.
Spread across Slavin Lawn, 1,000 yellow pinwheels, representing the average 1,000 college lives lost to suicide in the United States every year, were evenly distributed on both sides of Slavin Lawn. These pinwheels stood peacefully and stationary, inviting those passing by to a moment of reflection. Along Slavin’s walkway were informative signs, discussing the importance of self-care, mental health, and knowing when to get help. Walking past the pinwheels and posters reminds us as people and peers that there is no shame in seeking support because we are humans first, not students. The event incites us to check in on our peers, appreciate those we love, and remember those we have lost to suicide.
There were BOP representatives seated at the end of the pathway with sticky notes and smiles, offering passersby a Sharpie to write a commemorative note of positivity. They also handed out purple and turquoise ribbons, the National Suicide Prevention’s colors.
BOP placed these uplifting notes on a large “P” sign, the logo for the College, that they will hang outside their office in lower Slavin. Along with discussion of mental health, suicide is rarely talked about in the PC community. Many students have vocalized their support for events like the 1,000 Voices Vigil, as it demonstrates knowledge on how to help ourselves and our peers at PC.
This event was started two years ago by Tom Bernard ’21 and was led by Kaan Cebeci ’22 this year. Kaan stated that “it is a special thing bringing attention to the importance of mental health among students, especially given where we are right now regarding the pandemic. We hope this display and the affirmations written by students inspired and strengthened some of those who walked by today.”
The importance of this event is evident among the PC student body, especially after going through the mental toll spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the CDC, “In June 2020, 25% of surveyed adults aged 18–24 years reported experiencing suicidal ideation related to the pandemic in the past 30 days.” That age group represents the majority of the student population, and the Center for Disease Control’s survey suggests that, statistically, a fourth of this age group had suicidal thoughts last year. As a community, country, and world, everyone experienced mental health struggles, whether individually or through someone they knew or loved. After this year in particular, the Vigil was ever so meaningful.
You are never alone, Friars.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Providence College Counseling Center: 401-865-2343