Writer vs. Writer: Should Professors Share Their Personal Opinions in Class?
Writer vs. Writer: Should Professors Share Their Personal Opinions in Class?
by Peter Mazzella ’22
In a classroom setting, political and religious beliefs are typically regarded as sensitive subjects. Professors are discouraged from sharing personal opinions, as doing so may cause a divide within the class and discourage students from being open about their own opinions. While this may be true, professors should feel comfortable sharing their personal beliefs because it encourages open discussion, which can be beneficial for all participants.
Teachers should share their personal beliefs with their students, as it is important to know where the professor aligns. However, there is a small caveat to this statement; while it is a professor’s right to decide whether they share their personal beliefs with students, students should not feel pressured to agree with these beliefs to earn a better grade. Maintaining a middle ground in which professors can apply an unbiased grading system and welcome all different beliefs is critical in developing unity within the classroom.
Additionally, transparency within the classroom allows for open discussion as well as a common ground between those who feel similarly. So long as a pressure-free environment exists where students do not feel obligated to manipulate their personal opinions to fall in line with their professors’ opinions, professors should be able to share their thoughts without a problem.
Whether students agree or disagree with their professors’ personal opinions, there is a degree of importance in their transparency. Opinionated statements often help facilitate discussion, which can allow students to be heard and to have their opinions recognized as well. If a professor wants to express their opinion on a topic, that should be made clear to students so that students may then decide for themselves whether or not they agree.
Recognizing this may not be the case; however, students are encouraged to speak with their professors about what is subjective and what is objective in their classes.
by Julia McCoy ’22
Asst. Opinion Editor
Students come to Providence College with a purpose; in addition to spending four years making friends and discovering ourselves, we come to PC to learn from experts in certain subject areas. Students look to professors as sources of authority on campus, since they have a wealth of knowledge from which to draw on.
Students who see professors as authoritative figures likely would not question professors who share their opinions in class. However, there needs to be a distinction made between fact and opinion. While every opinion is important, professors should use their platform in the classroom to share information and facts rather than their personal opinions. Due to professors’ high level of education, students are likely to take professors’ words seriously and even as fact.
Classes are, more than anything, a place for students to gain information and form their own thoughts. It is important for professors to give students all of the possible perspectives on a certain subject without showing a preference for any of those perspectives.
College is a transformative place for students, so it is important that they are able to formulate opinions and ideologies on their own during these years. The best way to do this is through informative readings and discourse with other students. Professors are a great resource for guidance and perspective in discussions. It is important, though, that students are able to craft informed opinions of their own.
It is worth noting that students come into college as adults, so even if their professors do attempt to impress their opinions in class, students would hopefully be able to differentiate fact from opinion.
With current events often overwhelming our lives—like this year’s presidential election—it can be hard for professors to remain silent on such important issues. As much as they can, however, it is important that professors use their platforms to transmit knowledge to students rather than use the time to vent about their own personal issues. Everyone has an opinion; it is natural. Regardless, it is important that PC remains an environment that fosters individual discovery, truth, and information in the classroom.
School Size Does Not Exclude You from Testing: How PC’s Testing Plan Compares to Nearby Rhode Island Universities
by Peter Mazzella ’22
In the midst of a global pandemic, universities across the country are dealing with similar problems: keeping the campus and community safe while still offering the experience students are used to. While the recent spike in Providence College’s positive cases may seem daunting, there is a faculty and student population who are more than dedicated to devising and following a plan that ensures our campus’s safety. There is also a large discrepancy in the testing practices of PC and neighboring Rhode Island colleges that may help to explain why PC has had an outbreak, but other colleges and universities appear to remain healthy.
With students’ return to campus, the possibility of an outbreak is something that PC’s contingency plan anticipated. The sheer volume of faculty and students prepared the College to enact protocols in a timely manner. Restricting students to stay on campus for a quarantine period and moving to online classes helped suppress the recent outbreak before its consequences were irreversible.
What contained the outbreak at PC was the extensive testing of students on a weekly basis. According to the most recent statistic, PC’s total student and faculty test count sits at 26,930 tests, as of Oct. 14. . Of those tested, 246 have tested positive, which rounds to 0.91 percent of the population tested.
Other Rhode Island schools, such as the University of Rhode Island, have far larger undergraduate student populations. However as of the most recent data, URI only administered 6,944 tests between Oct. 6 – Oct. 12. While this may seem like a high number of tests, it is underwhelmingly small relative to the overall size of the URI student population, and may be part of the reason why only 137, or 2 percent, of those tested have tested positive.
Salve Regina University, a school with an undergraduate population of 2,167 students, has administered 3,863 tests, with three students testing positive, which equates to 0.078 percent. Comparing these numbers to URI, whose undergraduate student enrollment is 13,790, raises questions as to the low number of students and faculty being tested. This may help explain the gap between schools who have had higher positive test results and those who do not.
Putting an emphasis on the safety of students as well as the surrounding community, PC has exceeded expectations in handling this outbreak, and truly showed its attention to detail in preparing a plan of action, should an outbreak happen again.
Through mandatory weekly testing and timely results, the College can react accordingly on quarantine protocols to ensure everyone’s safety. Using PC as a precedent for outbreak protocol, surrounding Rhode Island schools should follow in their footsteps and develop a standard for the safety of those living in the state.
After reviewing these statistics, it is apparent that a higher student population does not correlate to the number of tests being administered. For a much smaller school like PC, the overwhelming difference in the number of students being tested in comparison to these other schools might explain why PC’s mandated quarantine was put into place.
The College’s numbers may appear high; however, this is primarily due to the sheer amount of tests being administered. Mandatory testing is the most effective way to contain a virus, especially during a global pandemic. If schools do not test frequently, there will naturally not be as many known active positive cases. Thus schools that are not testing frequently must change their course of action, as it is the responsibility of these institutions to keep the state of Rhode Island, and surrounding communities, safe.
Tangents & Tirades
Dunkin’ Cam for the Mail Room
Have you ever gone to pick up a package only to see the line is out the door? In a situation like this, it makes it increasingly more difficult to fit going to the package room into our already busy days as students. Not to mention that your package will be sent back if it is not claimed within five days of arrival. One way to avoid this problem would be to add a camera, similar to the Dunkin’ cam, to the package room.
Most people pick up their packages between classes, which is the source of the problem. Everyone is in the same mindset, thinking it is most convenient to stop by after they finish class, which only causes more of a wait.
The addition of a camera outside of the package room could ease this stress, not only for those working at the time, but also for students who have limited time to pick things up. The benefits do not only include convenience, but also efficiency. If students have more free time, although it may be marginal, it can contribute to better grades and a more involved campus life in general.
The integration on the My PC app could be seamless. Programming and installation are very minimal tasks, which could result in numerous benefits, including the ones listed above. This could be an opportunity to impact the campus in a widespread way— to ease the stress on students’ busy schedules as well as the package room employees.
As a benefit to students there, it should be a student-run push for this integration. Similar to the Ray improvements, if there is enough support for this, change is attainable. Students have more power than we realize, and that should be used to our advantage, which is the reason why students should band together to get this achieved.
—Peter Mazzella ’22
Reading to the End of the Page
What attracts you to an article? The title, the content, or both? Most young adults in our current society attempt to read the news but stop after the first paragraph or glance through. They don’t read the entire article, and this can cause many problems.
It is possible that when we only glance through an article, we lose the main focus and interpret it in ways that are different from what the author meant. For example, we can look at the recent Coronavirus issue, where most of us only read the title or first paragraph of an article and not the entirety of it.
Reading the headline without getting all the information can lead to the spreading of false information, rumors, and possibly hysteria, as has been the case with the Coronavirus. We need to be careful with how we interpret and digest information that we read.
Reading the news is essential to be informed about our society today and it is a great way to be educated in modern events. But when most are just skimming or not truly reading the whole content, this can become problematic for the individual and society.
We need to push everyone to read the full article, and then discuss the facts which they are reading. This will help so many young adults be better educated on the news that they are reading daily.
—Erin Garvey ’22
Becoming a Bookworm
After a long day of classes or work, people dream of hopping back into a nicely made bed, opening up their laptop, and binge-watching Netflix shows for hours upon hours. While spending time this way is certainly desirable, reading for pleasure is a great, or even better, alternative.
With a busy lifestyle and loads of reading for homework, college students might argue that reading for pleasure cannot fit into their schedule. Why would they want to add even more reading on top of their reading for classes?
When it comes to reading for pleasure, one can choose a book that appeals to their specific taste instead of something assigned that they do not enjoy. If you like drama, try Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. If you enjoy coming-of-age fiction, try Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. If you like fantasy fiction, read the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. If romance is more your thing, any of the Nicholas Sparks books will do. There are options for any type of interest and any type of reader.
Also, there is no time crunch when it comes to reading a book for fun. One can read for 10 minutes before bed, a few hours on the weekends, or in between classes for a little break.
If you read this and you are still convinced that you would prefer Netflix, challenge yourself to read a book and afterwards watch the movie that is based on that book. Try The Hunger Games, The Outsiders, or The Great Gatsby, and then watch the movies to see how your interpretation of the book comes alive.
Reading for pleasure challenges the mind in a way that watching television cannot. It’s a way for one to escape reality and fully transport one’s self into a whole new story.
—Emily Ball ’22
Writer vs. Writer: Too Soon to Discuss Kobe Bryant’s Sexual Assault Allegation?
by Savannah Plaisted ’21
The recent death of Kobe Bryant is, of course, tragic and untimely. His face and highlights from his career were plastered across the internet for days afterwards, as people of all walks of life grieved him and the eight people that died along with him.
The problem inherent in this public grieving is the minimal acknowledgement of the darker side of his legacy.
The day after his untimely death, Kevin Draper of the New York Times wrote an exposé on Bryant’s 2003 rape allegation, as a reminder to the public of his actions.
Some might say this was too soon after his death to be dwelling on such a disturbing part of Bryant’s story, but the bottom line is the rape allegation is a part of his legacy. It is just as important as his outstanding athletic achievements.
In the days of the #MeToo movement, it is immensely important to ensure public knowledge of all accusations of sexual assault, regardless of how much they may damage a person’s reputation and no matter how glorified they are in the public arena.
Although the charges in his case were eventually dropped, Bryant later apologized to the woman that accused him and stated, “Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did.”
In no way is this a full confession to the rape allegation, but the very fact that consent was not entirely certain in this case is very problematic for Kobe Bryant’s reputation.
It is essential for the public to grieve the loss of a phenomenal athlete like Bryant, but it is equally essential that Draper published his article as quickly as he did.
If a man of Kobe Bryant’s reputation is going to be glorified in a very public way for days after his death, it is equally privy to acknowledge that he was also a man accused of rape.
by Peter Mazzella ’21
The recent passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant has left the whole world in shock, as social media was flooded with tributes celebrating his life. In the midst of these emotional responses, the New York Times took a different route.
One day after Bryant’s passing, New York Times reporter Kevin Draper published an article regarding a sexual assault allegation made against Bryant in 2003. The article stuck to the facts, but the question that is raised from the issue is when is it “too soon” to post it?
The urgency to make a headline took priority over the family’s mourning. No less than 24 hours after the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant, the article was published. While this may have driven massive amounts of traffic to the New York Times website and boosted readership in general, it is still extremely controversial.
A similar case involved a Washington Post reporter who received backlash after a tweet following initial allegations against Bryant. Following Bryant’s death, Felicia Somnez was suspended from the Post after tweeting, “Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser’s Story, and the Half Confession,” with a link to a Daily Beast article about the sexual assault case. The lack of judgement in both instances shows not only the ruthless nature of the news industry, but the willingness to go above and beyond to get published.
The most important thing in a tragedy like this is to give the family enough space to mourn privately.
While there is a fine line between doing one’s job and being considerate of the families involved, there is no reason that the Bryant family should have to hear this kind of news so soon. This style of reporting heavily favors profit over any regard for the family’s privacy. In this instance, it was not appropriate timing to publish given the worldwide impact that came along with it, and in future instances profit should not take priority over another human’s life.
Black Friday Trends
Peter Mazzella ’22
One of the most infamous shopping days of the year, Black Friday, causes shoppers to camp outside of stores, rain or shine, to take advantage of door buster deals. With apparent success this year, as seen by a 12.5 percent increase in transactions in the UK from 2018, it certainly has become one of the largest shopping days of the year worldwide.
This year in America, the average spending on this holiday was expected to drop by almost $3 billion, which had retailers concerned. The decrease in expected shopping is something that is abnormal for the holiday, contrary to the usual spike in expected sales. This brought more incentives to customers who tried to account for the anticipated loss of revenue for brick and mortar businesses that have been left in the dust since Amazon’s inception.
Regarding the nature of Black Friday sales, Nicole Rohde, a PR manager, speaks on the impact it has had on her company Maxwell-Scott, saying, “Black Friday 2019 has been incredibly successful for us as we managed to hit our monthly revenue target in just one day! For our UK website, we are 300 percent ahead in revenue compared to last year’s event.” Shoppers on Black Friday are not the only ones benefiting. Businesses with unsold inventory have the opportunity to capitalize on incentivized shopping during the holiday season.
The United States is not the only country to coin on this shopping holiday. The United Kingdom started to see an increase in foot traffic on the day following Thanksgiving dating back to 2013 and has been upwardly trending since. In 2018, the UK recorded 1.23 billion euros in online Black Friday retail sales, which equates to around $1.36 billion. These numbers are shadowed by the astronomical numbers that online shopping pulled in on the holiday. The UK’s Black Friday spending has only increased since then, with a 14 percent to $7.2 billion on Friday and $4.1 billion on Thanksgiving day.
These numbers indicate doomsday for retailers, where online platforms such as Amazon and Apple dominate the majority of online sales. With their ability to outshine retail stores on a holiday specifically for brick and mortar businesses, this does not bode well for those who cannot adapt to the fast-changing culture of online shopping.
On Friday morning, the most social media buzz surrounded gaming platforms, primarily Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo. In the online world, it is no shock that Amazon was popular, followed by close competitors Walmart and Target, who have successfully adapted to the rapidly progressing mobile world.
While retail shopping has become more popular online and on mobile phones over the years, this is not to say that brick and mortar shops will become obsolete. This year’s sales increase of 4.2 percent does not mean all hope is lost for retail stores. For these businesses, they need to quickly adapt to the increase in technology if they want sales this holiday season.
This year’s Black Friday sales were considered a success in the industry as a whole. The online records broken on Friday indicated a future of continued sales increase, which brings a positive outlook to online retailers. Although the shopping holiday may be leaning more towards online shopping in the future, this does not mean the deals will stop.
Welcome to the Friar Food Family: Raymond Dining Hall Takes On New General Manager
by Peter Mazzella ’22
Recently Raymond Dining Hall welcomed a new general manager, Josef Quirinale, to its family. Although this is a new position for Quirinale, it is not his first position at Providence College, working as a resource manager last fall.
Quirinale spent his career across the east coast working in the food industry. Working for Sodexo for almost 20 years, he has traveled to different schools to make dining experiences as good as they can be.
He started off at the University of Vermont, which set him up for new opportunities in the field. Following that, he continued his work at State Universiy of New York-Plattsburgh. His final position before PC was at Keene State College in New Hampshire.
In his first semester as a general manager at Ray, Quirinale has enacted many changes, such as a full-time dietician, the Simple Servings station, and the hiring of a new chef.
His first major change has been the acquisition of a dietician, Michelle Switach, who will be responsible for designing nutrition programs to ensure that each dish reflects a healthy diet, so that all students can have multiple options at each station for a balanced meal.
Quirinale’s second change was helping to open the Simple Servings station, which is a station where all foods are free of the eight major allergens. Each employee who works at Simple Servings is AllerTrain certified by MenuTrinfo.
Finally, the addition of a new chef to the team has brought many new options, along with the intent of the least amount of waste possible. In line with this new initiative, fresh food is now scheduled to be prepared according to how much is left over after students dine in.
One thing that Quirinale is looking to bring to Ray in the second semester is a smoothie bar, not only for Tuesday and Thursday, but for the whole week. He thinks this is a great way to start the day, and Ray is looking into ways to make this happen.
Something that the staff is particularly excited about is the addition of fresh grilled chicken to the salad bar, where they will be removing the chicken from the grilling station by the burgers and reserving that grill for fresh hot sandwiches. This will bring many new dining options, along with burgers that will be fresh off the grill every time.
Finally, something that is very important to Quirinale, as well as the rest of the staff, is the feedback they receive. He states, “It is your dining experience,” talking about PC students. Quirinale said Ray is always looking to improve. The feedback forms in the dining hall are the main way that the staff can discuss changes that will bring an all-around better experience to each student.
Quirinale spoke on his thoughts about the atmosphere that Ray tries to bring, which is consistent with PC’s emphasis on community.
“I think it’s important that you have one dining facility that is a community space, where everyone can meet. Many campuses this size will have two or three resident dining facilities, but this brings everyone together.”
In his first semester as general manager, Quirinale and his team have made many changes to improve the dining experience that most PC students have on a day-to-day basis. His close relationship with the staff at Ray is one of the main reasons for the success that has been accomplished this year.
Remember this Summer’s Heatwave?: Here’s Why You Should Care
by Peter Mazzella ’22
With record high heat waves this summer, there is only one group to blame: ourselves. Every year over 36 million trees are lost due to expansion and urbanization, and this could have some pretty serious side effects. If we continue to take our trees for granted “cities will become warmer, more polluted and generally more unhealthy for inhabitants,” said David Nowak, a senior US Forest Service scientist.
A continual loss of trees could mean an increase in temperature up to 10 degrees. This may not seem like too bad of a trade off, however, this seemingly small change could have drastic repurcussions on the environment and our future.
We could see a large decrease in universal water quality, and ice glaciers will likely melt, causing floods all over the world, which would be compounded by the fact that there would be less trees to absorb the flood water.
It may not seem like we are losing enough trees to make a noticeable difference, however, the lost value of the trees being cut down per year are around $96 million. So what? When a set of trees are cut down to build a new road or building, it not only affects the new site, but also the surrounding region.
Trees are also helpful in the absorption of greenhouse gases that can potentially be harmful in our lifetime. With only half of trees remaining, this danger becomes more and more of a concern.
15.3 billion trees are estimated to be cut down every year, and the numbers are increasing as deforestation continues to be a large problem. The earth has about 3.04 trillion trees, although that number is vastly declining each year.
Although it would take a considerable amount of time for every tree to be cut down, far longer than our perceived lifespans, it does not mean we should not be active about conserving our trees.
If trees were cut down to a level where they become scarce, this would have overwhelming effects on the state of the earth. Land would dry out, which would cause forest fires and damage the remaining animal populations in those areas.
The numbers may seem grim, but that does not mean that we should stand idly by as our forests become obsolete. A small island off the coast of Tanzania called Kokota is combating climate change and taking matters into their own hands. In the past decade, this small island has planted over two million trees to repair the damages done to their land. There are ways that we all can help to sustain our forests and keep the air clean.
Organizations like One Tree Planted and The Nature Conservancy take donations to plant trees to replenish the forests lost due to wildfires and deforestation. One Tree Planted is hosting a fundraiser for the recent wildfires in California, where a $1 donation will plant one tree. The Nature Conservancy has a goal of planting one billion trees, through donations and hands-on work.
If we want to sustain our clean air and protect our forests, the first step is demanding action. By contributing to nonprofit organizations with the intention of restoring forests, the impact of one donation could be immense. Multiply that by a population, and the results could be life changing for generations to come. Informing the general public is the first step to change. One tree could be a catalyst for many others to come, which can alleviate some of the stress that we have put on the earth in recent years.
Building Successful Careers and Good Character: Adam Posner Inspires PC Students at Leadership Conference
by Peter Mazzella ’22
On Saturday, November 2, Providence College welcomed a very decorated speaker, Andy Posner, to speak about personal branding, beliefs and achieving goals at the Rhode Island Conference on Values-Based Leadership. Posner founded the Capital Good Fund, which is a certified non-profit that helps fight poverty. By providing financial assistance to low income families, he has helped change the lives of thousands of people.
One thing that distinguishes Posner’s financial assistance program from other programs is that his work is done right here in the Providence area. He has been featured in Providence Business News, Providence Phoenix, The Bank of Boston’s Federal Reserve, and countless other sources.
After receiving his masters from Brown University, he realized the problems low income families were facing in the Rhode Island area. This influenced his decision to enter the microfinance field and start the Capital Good Fund.
Upon his graduation from Brown, the economy was in shambles. The Financial Crisis of 2008 hit and devastated low income families. Posner took action and risked his own savings to lend money to those who had been affected by the crisis.
By not only providing financial assistance but also personal coaching along with his team, Posner has turned many lives around for the better and worked hard to expand his organization.
Environmental conservation is something that Posner holds close to his heart. He spent five years traveling without a car and realized alternative ways of transportation.
Posner is always looking for new solutions to modern day problems like climate change. His extensive work in turning around economically challenged families lives, as well as helping in the greater scheme of things such as global warming, makes him a very accomplished man and a perfect candidate to speak to PC students.
During his keynote this weekend, Posner offered multiple workshops that encouraged students to take a look at what they value and believe in, and how that can influence what goals one sets for oneself.
The influence of personal beliefs on goals for the future is something that is important to remember down the line, when applying to jobs, and directing the course you want your life to take.
Some of the participants went into seminar classrooms, where they created a short speech to present to a partner who was a part of theYear Up Program as well as discussing unconscious bias. This raised awareness for something that is done every day without even realizing it.
By putting a spotlight on society and how people judge others, it is important to block these thoughts that intervene with our perceptions of others.
Posner is a family man, too. When he is not on the job, he loves to spend time with his wife and son. They enjoy hiking together as a family, as well as playing with their dog.
To unwind, Posner writes poetry, and has even been nominated for one of his poems in the 2019 Pushcart Poetry Prize. His busy lifestyle is something he is proud of, and it keeps his mind active and healthy.
By learning the importance of self-realization and unconscious bias, students were able to learn to value their beliefs as well as to see others as equals, which is an opportunity that does not present itself often. This mentality is one that is hard to achieve, but once it is accomplished, a new sense of fulfillment can be reached.
Posner is an individual who seeks the best in others and has made a difference in the community. He looks to make a difference worldwide.