Student Congress Update

by Kaitlyn Hladik '25 on April 28, 2023
News Staff


On March 28, Student Congress was happy to hear from Dean Tiffany Gaffney, the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs and Associate Dean of Students. She shared her passion for Providence College’s mission and described it as an imperfect place with a lot of potential and a motivated community that is driven to make the school better. Dean Gaffney, who is also the director of Community Standards and supervisor of the Title IX coordinator, primarily works with students in distress by supporting families and students. Gaffney is also a co-chair for the Campus Assessment, Response, and Evaluation Team, the College’s behavioral intervention team. Their responsibilities include behavioral intervention, case management, and violence risk assessment. 

Behavioral intervention is a place where students, faculty, or staff worried about another member of the Providence community can report specific behaviors or safety concerns. The CARE Team contacts students to connect them with the appropriate support. Case management provides ongoing needs and constant support during long-term, difficult situations. Violence risk assessments are an essential part of the CARE Team, as they are tasked with the responsibility to recognize and respond prior to providing treatment resources. The team also participates in intensive training over the summer on how to de-escalate violence and recognize potential signs of violence. 

The CARE Team represents people from all areas of the campus community. Offices include the Dean of Students, the Personal Counseling Center, the Student Success Center, Residence Life, Community Standards, Chaplain, Sports Medicine, Health Center, and Public Safety.  

To contact the CARE Team, students can look them up or scan the QR Code on the list of resources behind bathroom stalls under the “Need Help but Don’t Know Where to Go” or “Mental Health” headings. Congress is grateful to have had Dean Gaffney come speak with us.

Dr. Illuzzi, the Development of Western Civilization program director and history professor, attended the following week. She shared the results of a survey which asked students their thoughts about the DWC program. Some of the positive feedback was that it created well rounded students, had lots of breadth, and improved critical thinking (50.31 percent improved), reading (58.49 percent improved) and writing (66.67 percent improved). The areas for improvement noted by the survey results include the heavy workload, a lack of consistency between sections, lack of diverse content, lack of purpose, and overwhelming lectures. 

She discussed the plans for the program when moving forward. There will be a Trivium which focuses on grammar, logic, rhetoric, and conversations. She hinted at potential student focus groups coming this fall. She said that student support and activism for the DWC program are always encouraged and allows for creative ways to make the program better.

Dr. Illuzi then graciously responded to questions from the members of Student Congress. One member asked: Is there a plan to review the core curriculum and then restructure the program to fulfill the core proficiencies within the DWC program? Dr. Illuzi responded that the conversation about incorporating writing proficiencies within Civ has occurred, but writing professors are against this, particularly because Civ is not a writing course and professors that teach it are not focusing on helping students write well. If we restructured the curriculum to teach about grammar and logic, it would change the type of assignments students do in the Civ program. 

Another member asked: Is the goal with the Trivium to have it occur during all semesters of Civ? The answer was yes, and there should be development along the college process, specifically targeted toward students’ developing capabilities.

The next question asked was whether a name change is still being considered. Dr. Illuzi’s personal dream is for a name change. There is a lot of resistance from the administration that believe an important tradition lies within the name. However, she suggested that changing the name means embracing tradition in a different way.

A member then asked: How can students help express support for the diversification of authors within the Civ program? Dr. Illuzzi suggested petitions and making your voices heard so that the professors are aware that the students want this change and feel strongly about it.

The next member asked: How would the wants of students and the wants of tenured faculty who get to structure the program work together to create a curriculum? She stressed that academic freedom and teaching material that engages students are not mutually exclusive.. It is difficult to change Civ, which is why it has not been altered since 2010. Another member asked: What is the process for a new colloquium to be developed? Any faculty from any department can propose a colloquium.

One member asked: What consistencies exist across sections? The program objectives are what keep the course consistent, but that is all. They are broad and vague: special attention to Catholicism, discussion of underrepresented groups, use of the library once, writing a certain number of words, and covering a certain amount of history, philosophy, theology, and English.

Over the last month, a significant amount of legislation has been passed, and a new Student Congress executive board has been elected. Student Congress recently rewrote the preamble to their constitution, made recommendations regarding safety concerns, and assessed club/organization budgets. Student Congress also recently hosted the Spring into Friartown event.

The new executive board consists of executive president Bryan McGinn, vice president Julia Rossi, treasurer Caitlin Ariel, and secretary Justice A’vant. Applications for the 74th Student Congress are open and elections are underway.