Passing on the Torch
by Marla Gagne ’18 and Paige Calabrese ’18
Spring is the ultimate time of transition—days that once required three layers of jackets and snow boots turn into days of laying out in the sun and blasting music on the quad. And as the warm weather comes, so does the chaos of wrapping up a college year and, more importantly, a journey with The Cowl.
Looking back to September, we are amazed by the growth we have experienced as a club and as a newspaper. We worked hard to improve our journalism, working with writers one-on-one, attending writing workshops, and making a stronger effort to tackle investigative issues and diverse events.
We worked hard to grow The Cowl brand, creating a new social media team, hiring new writers, and promoting our print issue around campus. And we worked hard to become a close-knit club, making the office our second home, being your shoulder to cry on, and a crowd to celebrate with.
We wanted to leave The Cowl better off than we started and now, confident that we have done our part, we cannot wait to pass on the torch to our new Editor-in-Chief, Taylor Godfrey ’19, and Associate Editor-in-Chief, Abby Czerniecki ’19. We have watched you grow as writers and editors and are fully confident that you will take good care of The Cowl next year and do amazing things.
Congrats to the new editors taking over sections—the job can be difficult and at times daunting, but so much fun and rewarding. Welcome to all the new writers that are just beginning their journies with the club, and congrats to our veteran writers and graduating seniors—you have allowed us to serve the community and carry on our tradition.
Thank you to Vice President Goodwin, Dean Sears, and Sue McCauley for supporting The Cowl year after year after year and to Richy Kless for always having our backs and being our number one supporter.
There’s no easy way to say goodbye, but it helps knowing The Cowl is in good hands. We look forward to flipping through future publications and seeing everything the rising 2018-2019 staff accomplishes.
A Nightmare Abroad: Survivors Speak
Studying abroad was by far one of my favorite experiences of my college career. I challenged myself through immersion in a totally different culture, made incredible friends, and travelled to dozens of cities across Europe and North Africa. Although going abroad should be nothing less than a fulfilling, life-changing experience, I was reminded last week of the serious dangers associated with traveling abroad that students need to be aware of.
On the evening of Wednesday, April 11, my friend sent me a link to an interview on NBC Today that featured three young women who had all studied abroad in Spain. They all took trips with the popular tour company, Discover Excursions, used by hundreds of study abroad students, those who are primarily studying in Spain. I also studied in Spain and went on multiple trips with Discover Excursions, so I was shocked when I opened the link.
In the interview with Megyn Kelly, the three women described how a tour guide and the owner of Discover Excursions, Manuel Blanco Vela, known to many students as Manu, assaulted or attempted to assault them. As I watched the interview I was disgusted and shocked. Gabrielle Vega, one of the survivors in the interview, claims she was raped in 2013 on a trip to Morocco with Discover Excursions during her semester abroad. She was 19 years old.
Vega had posted on Facebook about her experience with Vela and the subsequent trauma she developed as a result of her assault; Vega’s goal was to seek out other survivors who suffered at the hands of Vela so that he could be held accountable for his misconduct.
After the interview, other survivors began reaching out to Vega to share their stories. As of April 14, more than 50 women who have been assaulted, harassed, or harmed by Vela have notified Vega, according to her Facebook profile.
While I was abroad, my friends and I took multiple trips with Discover Excursions and the idea of being in danger of a serial predator never occurred to any of us. When traveling with a tour group or agency, one expects to be able to trust the guides and all other employees charged with leading people through a foreign country.
When I travelled with Discover Excursions, I never thought twice about accepting a drink from one of the guides—who were all men not much older than the students—or about spending time with any of them outside the regular tour schedule.
Vela was a guide on each trip I went on with Discover Excursions and spent time with us both on the tours and around the city we lived in. To think that myself, one of my friends, or a Providence College classmate studying abroad could have been assaulted by him is beyond sickening.
Vela exploited his position as a tour director by attacking and violating young women during what should have been one of the most incredible experiences of their lives. Several of the survivors reported the assaults to Discover Excursions regarding Vela’s behavior, but no action was taken in response to these complaints. Therefore, Vela continued to act as a tour director and was consistently supplied with victims.
As I write this article, Vela has not been arrested or charged with any crimes; however, Discover Excursions is now closed and all of their scheduled trips have been cancelled. Because no formal legal actions are being taken against Vela by Spanish authorities, there is nothing stopping him from forming another travel company or obtaining another job at a similar company.
As long as Vela is allowed to roam free and work in close proximity to women, he is a danger to the public, especially study abroad students. If you are planning on studying abroad in Europe, exercise caution when participating in tour groups not affiliated with your academic program and avoid any tour or travel agency that employs Vela.
If you are a former study abroad student who has been affected by the misconduct of this man or someone else, you can contact the Personal Counseling Center, the V.A.S.E (Victim Advocacy, Support, and Education) Coordinator, the Title IX Coordinator, Public Safety, or email email@example.com if you wish to share your story.
Standing Up to Sexual Assault
by Paige Calabrese ’18
April is designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, an entire month dedicated to calling attention to sexual violence and educating the public about statistics, prevention, and resources in an effort to combat stereotypes and reduce violence.
This month also plays an important role in empowering survivors and helping them heal, as many survivors of sexual assault and abuse often experience feelings of guilt, and shame.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center eight out of 10 rape cases involve an assailant who was known to the victim, and—arguably the most disturbing statistic—over 90 percent of people who are sexually assaulted on university campuses do not report their assaults.
Although sexual violence is already the lowest reported crime in the United States, the rate of reporting is even lower on college campuses. There are a variety of reasons that a survivor may choose not to report his or her assault, including not seeing the assault as a reportable offense at all.
As a college campus, we need to focus our efforts not only on preventing assault from happening and holding assailants accountable, but also changing the way we as a community perceive assault. According to the Providence College Department of Public Safety’s crime statistics for 2016, there were zero reported instances of forced touching or fondling, and four reported rapes.
On our campus, the national statistic would equate to about one out of four women and one out of six men experiencing sexual assault during their time at Providence College. We need to make sure we are providing a safe environment for victims to come forward.
This month, do what you can to educate yourself about sexual violence, how you can help prevent it, and how you can support survivors in your life; we are all Friars, so it is up to all of us.
To report sexual misconduct, contact the Department of Public Safety, the Title IX Coordinator/Deputy Coordinator, or the VASE (Victim Advocacy, Support, and Education) Coordinator.
For confidential resources, contact the Personal Counseling Center, Office of the Chaplain, Student Health Center, or VASE.
Be Certain About Being Uncertain
By Paige Calabrese ’18
With second semester almost halfway over, most Providence College students are likely hitting the “panic” button when it comes to planning summer internships and jobs after graduation. My message to you is this: it is okay to be sure about not being sure.
I am one of those people who needs to have a concrete, organized plan for everything with several back-up plans just in case, so when life happens and all of my planning collapses in shambles, I tend to lose my mind.
Recently, given the abundance of unknown components in both my immediate and distant future that are also out of my control, I have been forced to accept that I cannot plan for everything.
I currently do not know which law school I will attend or where I want to live after I graduate, and I have approximately one month to make these decisions before I need to reserve a space at a law school for the fall.
While I have options at the moment, I am frightened about the admissions decisions I have not yet received, in addition to the sheer range of possibilities from which I can only choose one.
Although thinking ahead is terrifying enough with a plan, sometimes not having one is the best option.
Trusting your intuition and being spontaneous can create some of the best experiences and lessons with the potential of revealing parts of yourself that you previously did not know.
That being said, with summer around the corner, it is 100 percent acceptable to not have any idea if or where you will intern, where you will work, or where you will attend graduate school.
No one knows what exactly the future has in store, so take every opportunity made available to do things you want to do and push your boundaries. All without a set plan, of course.
Time’s Up, PC: Engage in Meaningful Discussion About Sexual Violence
by Paige Calabrese ’18
The spring semester is officially in full swing here at PC! Classes have commenced, homework has been assigned, and various events including guest speakers, dances, and themed activities have been planned. However, PC is not the only bustling community at the moment.
This past weekend, thousands of people in Providence alone participated in the Women’s March to stand in solidarity on the myriad of issues affecting women in the United States today. Thousands also participated in the March for Life to show support for pro-life beliefs, and today, after the deliverance of 156 victim impact statements, former U.S. gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing the gymnasts he was supposed to be medically treating.
Reflecting on these three momentous events, take a moment to reach out to an important woman in your life whom you care about to thank her for her support, sacrifices, and unconditional love. Take on the responsibility of keeping the dialogue around prevention and accountability for sexual assault alive and powerful in 2018, so that Time Magazine never again has to declare “the silence breakers” as the people of the year.
Although we may think of this topic as not being incredibly relevant at PC, it is. It is, in fact, more relevant now than ever before.
We need to take the initiative to engage in productive, meaningful discussion throughout campus about what we at PC can do to end sexual violence, both on and off our campus.
Productivity is Key: Managing Your Time During the Holiday Season
by Paige Calabrese ’18
It is that time of year again: finals. Before we can return home to relax and celebrate the holiday season with our families, we have to make the last push to finish papers, exams, and projects.
On top of the never-ending bombardment of assignments, there is the added stress of finding gifts for family, friends, and significant others. Some may also experience some anxiety about spending time with family and the friction that only our relatives can occasionally create.
With all these thoughts and more swirling in a terrifying storm around our heads, it may seem almost impossible to tune it out and focus on the things immediately in front of us.
For the remainder of this week and all of next week, productivity is key: managing time efficiently and plowing through assignments is necessary in order to complete all the work that stands between us and four weeks of home-cooked meals, shameless TV binges, and —for the extra-lucky people—snuggles with pets.
Throughout the week, check in with yourself to make sure you are not on the brink of a finals-induced meltdown and think ahead to the month-long vacation that awaits!
Finals can be intimidating, but it is possible to reign in the feeling of helplessness by creating a schedule, sticking to it, and taking care of yourself.
Enjoy the well-earned time off, and good luck to all these last couple weeks!
Be Appreciative of Time We Have
by Paige Calabrese ’18
With Thanksgiving break quickly approaching, many of us here at Providence College are asking ourselves the same question: Where did the time go? Looking back on the semester, it feels as though Senior Ring Weekend happened just last week, but now we are cramming in last-minute papers and preparing ourselves for finals.
At various points throughout our lives, we often find ourselves reflecting on our pasts, values, and where we want to be in the future; these reflections tend to lead to wishing that we had more time: more time to figure things out, more time to spend with friends and family, more time to travel, etc.
There never seems to be enough time, and no matter how hard one plans or thinks ahead, the time given is not sufficient.
On the other hand, everyone knows the feeling of frustration, panic, and stress when they realize that there may have been more efficient and productive ways to spend their time that did not include watching Hulu, eating mozzarella sticks, or searching for adoptable cats online.
The wave of time-wasting regret usually hits when we realize we are at the beginning of a week in which there are two papers we have not started, at least one group project, and two—or more—tests we have not studied for.
In the midst of all this chaos of end-of-semester schoolwork and extra-curricular events, I had an epiphany; we, as people, dwell on wishing that we had more time or regretting the way we spent the time we had.
As we approach Thanksgiving and the general holiday season, we should reject feelings of regret, shame, and frustration over how we allotted time and how little of it we truly have, and instead be appreciative of the time we do have and the way we have spent it.
Take the next few weeks to be grateful for time passed with family, friends, and fellow Friars. During this stressful part of the semester, remember that each second is a gift —even those seconds spent studying and taking exams—that cannot be changed or taken back.
Time is a precious commodity, so treat it as such.
Make Mental Health a Priority
by Paige Calabrese ’18
Here in the United States in the third week of October, we are in the midst of Emotional Wellness Month and National Depression Education & Awareness Month. Although it is always important to reflect on mental and emotional health, this month is an opportune time to check in and self-assess.
Millions of Americans, college students in particular, are affected by mental illnesses such as depression. Therefore, use this month as an opportunity to gather information on how to identify symptoms of mental illness, what resources are available to help, and how to be there for a friend or family member who is or may be suffering.
As we reflect individually on our emotional and mental states this month, remember how much kindness and sensitivity can impact a person’s mental health and turn a bad day around completely. Be mindful of how words and actions may affect others, and take into account that everyone has struggles and problems that are not necessarily visible or easy to identify.
As a Friar Family, we have a responsibility to take care of and look out for each other, especially members of our community struggling with the effects of mental illness. We owe it to each other to be kind, understanding, and sensitive as we all have different inner struggles.
Finally, take the time to be kind to yourself: do yoga, take a nap, binge-watch Bob’s Burgers, do the things that make you happy. Keeping up with general physical health is also a great way to improve your mood and overall outlook; feeling balanced, healthy, and happy is nearly impossible if you are not getting enough sleep, subsisting entirely on ramen, or doing 10 hours of homework per day.
Kindness is an important part of each person’s life in some way, and an even more important part of a community like Providence College. Showing kindness and compassion to others can change lives and help those with mental illnesses, and we need this to be the focus throughout the rest of the month.
Thank you, SRW Core: Class of 2018 Celebrates a Weekend to Remember
Paige Calabrese ’18
Another weekend has come and gone here at Providence College, and with it went SRW, or Senior Ring Weekend. Each fall, seniors eagerly anticipate the full weekend of events leading up to receiving our class rings: Special Events Night on Friday, Formal Night on Saturday, and mass on Sunday to bless the rings.
Seniors spend weeks planning tables, outfits, and dates, not including the careful deliberation that goes into choosing and customizing one’s own class ring.
SRW has been the highlight of my semester thus far and was a weekend that seniors will cherish long after we leave the College.
Having the memories of getting ready, dressing up, and dancing with friends and classmates will be an integral portion of my experiences at PC and something I can reminisce about with my fellow alumni when we graduate.
Our class rings will also serve as a unique reminder of our time at PC, as they were designed with the help of members of the class of 2018 with the class in mind.
Upon receiving my ring I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and the precise craftsmanship, and it is a great privilege to be able to wear the ring and carry on a PC tradition.
On behalf of the class of 2018, Marla and I want to extend a heartfelt thank-you to the SRW Core for planning an incredible weekend and designing a beautiful collection of rings for our class.
The Cowl: Ready For Fall
Paige Calabrese ’18
After the successful release of our first issue on Thursday, August 30, my associate Marla and I are ready to take on the year and continue the great Cowl tradition of reporting the news to the Providence College community! The hectic initial weeks of the semester consisted of getting to know our staff of talented, driven editors as well as learning to manage the occasional Cowl office tantrum caused by our persnickety desktop computers.
In this week’s issue, we have an array of articles on widely differing topics, including politics, Provapalooza, and poetry. Our photo staff captured fantastic photos of the events on campus this past week as well, so be sure to check out the centerfold!
Fall semester at PC is always buzzing with new energy and countless activities, and it is always a pleasure to be able to experience and cover these events. The fall on campus is also unique because we at The Cowl have the privilege of speaking to new students just beginning their journeys here, recruiting new staff in the process and crafting an organization of dedicated people with a spectrum of ideas and experiences.
I am keeping all of this in mind, as starting a new semester—especially as a senior—can be intimidating, stressful, and uncertain.
Amid the chaos and pressures of job searching, graduate school applications, and the all-consuming fear of not knowing what the future holds, focusing on the present and maintaining optimism are essential and set examples for those who will come after you.
On another note, our website, thecowl.com, is officially published, the comments are spam-free, and all of our articles are posted there every Thursday awaiting our dedicated, adoring readership—we will not let you down. Although Marla and I are still working through the growing pains of the new platform of the website, we are confident that it is a valuable change for The Cowl and that editors and readers alike will enjoy it tremendously.