#YesAllWomen but #NotAllMen

AbbyDefaultAbby Hevert ’15

This past May, near the University of Santa Barbara in California, a shooting/stabbing rampage occurred, killing six students. The young man who killed these people will not be named here, for I believe that the name of the perpetrator is one that should not live on, in infamy or otherwise. The perpetrator had a vendetta for the “hottest sorority house” on the UCSB campus, which was filled with members who, allegedly, rejected his sexual advances. He, therefore, brought a gun and knife to the surrounding area of the school, which he did not attend, in order to “slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up blond slut,” of this particular sorority. The perpetrator ended up taking the lives of six people, four men and two women, before he took his own life.[1] Political discussions then filled news networks about gun control and gender-based violence. The familiar dialogue about misogyny was once again reignited, and a “hash tag” was developed for tweets about men who were, really, not bad men. #NotAllMen was trending on Twitter in defense of the good men who are respectful of women. A new hash tag, #YesAllWomen, was then developed to express that all women do experience sexism, the effects of misogyny, or harassment at some point in their lives. So, who is right? Is it true that not all men are really bad? Or do all women really experience the effects of sexism and misogyny? Well, since I identify as a woman, I guess I’ll start with my story.

Many days on my walk to work in London, a large group of men would yell at me.

“Here is the address to my bedroom. Hosting a party there on Saturday.”

“Where you going in such a hurry? Come back here.”

Well, I was going to work. I was going to work at a domestic violence and rape crisis center where I would take calls from women who were victims of the men who reduced their personhood to objects that they could use, hurt, and abuse. The irony of it all was stunning: I would tell women on the phone that their abuse shouldn’t be tolerated. And here I was, in a foreign city, unable to say anything to the men who disrespected me, albeit never physically abusing me, for fear that I would be hurt or kidnapped or raped. I would then spend hours of my day listening to stories of men who would do evil things to the women who trusted them. So, I do think that I can confirm that most, if not all, women do experience sexual harassment at some point in their lives. The #YesAllWomen hash tag, as far as I am concerned, does in fact capture the female demographic. One day while I was in London, one of my friends asked me: “does your job make you, like, hate men?”

My honest answer: “No. I mostly love men. Most guys are good guys.”

And I still stand by that statement. Too often, too many of us women talk about how “terrible” men can be. And yeah, men can be pretty terrible. They are definitely capable of doing awful things, and women are more likely to get abused, sexually and physically, than men. Those are the facts.[i] The men who perform the unthinkable do not need praise; they deserve defamation. But, do you know the group of guys who receive too little of our attention?

The good guys: they deserve our attention too.

I have lived a very blessed life and I have to say that I have never once been abused, threatened, or even pressured to do anything sexually, with which I was not comfortable. The men in my life are mostly stellar. My dad loves my mom and I more than anything; he believes in our abilities and loves to learn things from us. My brothers admire me and love to chat about music and politics with me because they respect my opinion. My male friends are incredible as well: they not only root for me, but they appreciate my sense of humor and my talents that stretch beyond the boundaries of our friendship. And, yeah, I do meet the occasional creep at a bar, but I have ten good men in my life to make up for the not-so-good ones who make the brief appearances. Men are there to laugh with me, to cheer me on, to teach me to be a better human, just like I can help them become better. As a heterosexual woman, I firmly believe that men can help me reach my full capacities as a person. We all need each other: men, women, transgendered people, and those who choose not to identify with gender. I am better because of every person in my life, I can promise you that.

And, to the women and girls who are reading this article who have endured abuse, hurt, and heartbreak from the men in their lives: I am truly sorry. Nothing can render your experiences null. You are survivors and those men do not deserve our acclaim. You, instead, deserve my respect, admiration, and enduring praise. It is completely understandable if you are skeptical of the gender that has caused you so much pain and it is not my place to persuade you; it is only my place to support you.

But to all of the great men out there, you deserve the attention more than the anomalies of your gender that do the dishonorable. So, to all of the standup guys: I raise my cup to you. I find faith in you. I support the #NotAllMen initiative as well because you have filled my life with so much joy and, so, I can also confirm that not all men are capable of murder, misogyny, or even blatant sexism.

Hell, I make mistakes every day. So does the rest of my gender. We really are all just imperfect humans trying to move forward. But most of us girls are good. Most people are good people, men included.

So, yeah: I love guys. Most guys are good guys.

 

[1] http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/24/justice/california-shooting-deaths/

[i] http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/statistics/

Safety, Security, and the Pursuit of Happiness

shoot3Matthew Henry Smith, ’16

“I almost felt unsafe,” said Father Shanley, recounting his tale of coming upon this year’s Golf Party and having to weave his vehicle into a nervous caravan of cars winding through a sea of pastel students up the Eaton Street hill. He told this story yesterday to the 65th PC Student Congress in response to a question about student safety concerns in the neighborhood.

What are we doing to address safety problems in the neighborhood?

On Sunday night my fella, Allen, and I were talking via Google Hangout. He recently left the east coast for Law School in Chicago. During our conversation he looked at me and said, “I thought of you when I received this,” and he showed me a pamphlet from his orientation program. Titled Living in the City, the pamphlet’s cover showed two hip-looking white guys posed like they were headed out for adventure. It looked, perhaps, like an instruction manual for urban living, as if it would tell you how to get to the nearest IKEA, where to find the best Thai food and who the hottest underground bands were.

But that’s not what the pamphlet contained. Inside were the numbers to the campus police, the shuttle service, the safety escort program and so forth. Largely, it was information about how to stay safe, insulated, defensive, and where to go to react to crime. It told a very specific story about how to live in the city, in his new community. Allen asked me, “So, what do you think I should do to engage my new community?”

He asked me this because it’s what I study here at PC and, just a week before this conversation, I had been invited to speak with my brother, John, for a group of high school seniors about community engagement. The Lincoln School is an independent, Quaker secondary school for young women on the East Side of Providence, and the group of students in the seminar were about to begin applying to colleges. Like Allen, they wanted to know how to become involved in the communities at their new schools. I asked them how they had engaged in their communities in the past:

“I worked in a food pantry,” said one.

“I volunteered at a hospital,” said another.

“I organized a clothing drive,” said a third.

I told the Students at Lincoln School what I told Allen: they best way to engage a new community is to live there. Really live there. Traditional service to your community is a noble endeavor but you can’t adequately serve a community until you’ve experienced what it has to offer. If we isolate ourselves in new places we invite misunderstanding. Plus, there’s lots of different ways to support a community once you’ve gotten to know it and one important way is to spend money in it.

What does this have to do with PC? We do quite a bit to report crimes in communities and seek criminal justice, but we often don’t do as much work to network with our communities before crimes happen. At Providence College we don’t pass out pamphlets like they do at Allen’s school, but we still have some of our own inadequate practices for teaching students how to engage the community, just like any college that the young women of Lincoln School will attend will have some of their own.

We have a knack for showing our newest brothers and sisters only the amenities that will appeal to traditional upper-class sensibilities. In the orientation program this year we offered first year students the opportunity to go for a walk in the community, but this was an option to choose versus a trip to Providence Place Mall or Thayer Street. Pitching a walk in the community was a hard sell because PC has only just begun to think about Smith Hill differently.

There has been tremendous administrative leadership on this front, as well as the leadership of some students, but most new students are still interpreting the message as “Okay, this is the neighborhood where you ‘do service’” and separately “This is the neighborhood you spend money and have fun.”

This is a damaging dichotomy.

One way to decrease violence is to increase prosperity. But if we live beside Smith Hill and spend all of our money at La Salle Bakery, Thayer Street, Federal Hill, and the mall, we are not helping to sustain the very local economy. When we spend outside of our communities they weaken.

When Fr. Shanley was speaking to Student Congress, his took a question about student safety concerns and turned it into a challenge for our student body. Safety problems in the neighborhood are a two way street and our President gets that. But do are students? I’m not saying that our traditions – like Golf Party – need to be left behind, but we should think about how we execute them. Father Shanley’s anecdote posits the question, “Have we considered how intimidating we may be to our neighbors?”

And if you’re not up for a community-motivated metanoia, just remember:

Yes, you are a resident of Providence and not just this neighborhood, but every time you go to Thayer Street as a Providence College Student you are borrowing the hangouts of Brown and RISD students. They will never be our own. Douglas Avenue is one of the last commercial spaces in Providence to develop, and it is developing right now while maintaining all of the historic charm and architectural integrity that makes this city so attractive. You could have Thayer Street amenities with a Smith Hill twist if you’re willing to spend more time and money here than there.

Friars, you are experiencing the four year process of becoming a “local” yourself. You can vote here, and that should matter to you. So compost with the community at Frey Florist. Pray with the community at St. Pat’s or the Pentacostal Churches or the Baptist Churches. Break bread with the community at the Common Grounds Café.

We are more than liquor stores and crime alerts. I believe that. Our administration believes that, and that’s why they’ve helped to create Common Grounds and partnered with the Smith Hill CDC. If you’re ready for a safer, more economically developed community then it’s time to make these connections.

Friends, we need to meet our neighbors where there’s common ground and start putting our money where our off campus houses are.

Ending Homelessness in Rhode Island

default10:6:14Lexi Moubarak ’15

How often do you think about homelessness? Probably not very often. And you aren’t alone. Prior to my internship with Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless (RICH), homelessness rarely crossed my mind. I mean for God’s sake, there are so many horrible things going on in the world. How can we keep track of everything? Between the ISIS beheadings, the shooting of Michael Brown, and the first case of Ebola in the US, homelessness hasn’t been the flashing headline on CNN and BBC.

But according to data done by the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, last year there were 4,447 homeless people in Rhode Island. Families make up forty one percent of this number. This is a social injustice currently facing the state we all proudly call home. The most successful initiative to end homelessness has been to house people first, and then provide necessary services and employment. Housing first works. Only 5 to 10 percent of people housed first end up back on the street. Rhode Island has just applied to a campaign called zero2016; to end chronic and veteran homelessness by 2016!

And here is how YOU can get involved. On the nights of Nov. 10, 11, and 12 from 6-9pm we will be sending groups out across the state to assess every homeless person. It is called Registry Week and we need volunteers to join. It is OK if you can only participate in one or two nights. I am going to be holding a training session in the coming weeks on campus for all the student participants. We will be using a tool called the VI-SPDAT to assess the homeless.  It is a series of questions, requiring about 8 to 10 minutes per person, to help us rank the homeless on a vulnerability index.  This way we know who is the most vulnerable for dying on the streets and needs permanent housing first.

I know it is a commitment to give up a valuable weeknight. But, besides the fact that participating will look great on a resume, I PROMISE you this will be a rewarding and humbling experience. We need all the citizens of Rhode Island to get involved and help us end homelessness. It is already starting to get so cold out. I was out a few Fridays ago doing homeless outreach. It was only mid-September and I was cold in my sweatshirt. Walking around downtown handing out bus tickets, I couldn’t imagine sleeping on the streets that night, let alone sleeping outside in December. Registry Week is our best shot for getting the homeless registered so we can start moving them into permanent housing. And who doesn’t deserve a warm bed and bathroom?

Register to Volunteer with Zero2016 Registry Week Here

Friarside is Back: Relaunch Week

It’s been a quiet month for Friarside Chats as we’ve settled into a new and busy academic year, but we are back and eager to write. This school year, Friarside Chats will continue its mission of both sparking and engaging in dialogue on campus and community issues. We will highlight our community’s achievements while not fearing to constructively evaluate our shortcomings. We will aim to be a crossroads of diverse perspectives. We will share our honest convictions, and we will learn along the way. As always, you are invited to join in this ongoing project.

Over the course of the week, stay tuned for new posts, features, and the debut of new regular contributors. Here’s to a fruitful third year of Friarside Chats! Thank you for your continued readership.

Intersection

mhagandefaultMichael Hagan ’15

In my years as a student at Providence College, I have found particular joy in the first few campus Sunday Masses of the academic year. I am one of many Friars for whom worship at St. Dominic Chapel has been an integral part of life at PC, and this has everything to do with the centrality of the sacraments and prayer to our lives as Christians. I am not alone in believing that St. Dominic’s is the hearth at the center of this campus we call home.

But at the dawn of my last undergraduate year, an annual experience largely unique to campus communities like our own reminded me so clearly of what really happens when we gather for Mass. Sunday night I attended the first 10:30 Mass of the semester, and I found comforting and valuable lessons in an unlikely fact: there were hiccups in the liturgy. A new year of congregants and liturgical ministers put their best effort into giving due reverence to God. Much like any first attempt in a new environment, we experienced bumps along the way. There was great timidity among new congregants when it came to chanting back the Kyrie. There was uncertainty as to which Eucharistic ministers would administer to what aisle. Occasionally the tempo would unduly pick up as the congregation nervously sang hymns. The joy in these hiccups does not come from imagining Fr. Cuddy’s chagrin at minor bumps in the road. It rather comes from a very real sense of shared humanity stirred up by those moments when we ‘don’t quite get it right.’

We believe that the Mass is the intersection of the human and the divine. Human error, however innocent, may drive stricter liturgists up a wall; I tend to think that, in moderation, it plays an important role of reminding us who we are and whom we gather to worship. We are clumsy. We are easily distracted. We are timid. But God is perfect. God is attentive. God is fully and unreservedly present in the Eucharist. Over time, congregations work together to correct human error and celebrate Mass in a way most reverent and conducive to the work of God. At St. Dominic Chapel, we have the exciting and humbling blessing of undergoing this process each year. It keeps us humble and our worship vitalized.

Sunday night, we very human Friars encountered Christ in the breaking of bread. No liturgical hiccup negates this. Fr. Cuddy and the liturgy and worship team led a beautiful and authentic celebration of the Mass, but they would be the first to acknowledge that their work is good only insofar as it is moved by God. There is no such thing as a ‘bad Mass,’ because what makes it Mass is the work and presence of God in and through those who celebrate. In our high-risk world, there is great solace in the fact that the core of the Christian life is something we lack the power to screw up. Through participation in it, we stand only to grow deeper in contemplation of God and his mysteries.

A Letter to Myself as a Freshman

AbbyDefaultAbby Hevert, ’15

Dear Freshman Self,

Wow, so you are about to move into college. Those boxes have been packed, the dorm inventory has been placed into bins, and your books have been ordered. You just said goodbye to your childhood best friends last night with many tears and “remember whens.” Your senior year of high school is over and it is time to move onto the great unknown; it is time to move into college. Today is the day that you climb into your mom’s SUV, listen to your favorite Taylor Swift album, and distract yourself on the car ride over by talking about things like which detergent brands to buy. You pull in front of your freshmen dorm, overwhelmed by all of the people standing there, ready to start their independent lives. The check-in takes place and you move awkwardly about in your new dorm, trying to assemble all of the stubborn furniture you bought for your tiny room. Then it is time to say goodbye as you pull your sunglasses over your swollen eyes, saying to your parents: “Okay, I guess this is it. You guys can go now. I love you. I’ll be fine.” Your mom has her sunglasses on too as she pulls away from the college gates and goes home to look at your empty room, wondering where all the time has gone. You then pull open your desk drawer in your new dorm and read a note from your father. It says that these years will be important in many ways; these years will be good years. That is hard to believe as you attempt to navigate the days, weeks, and months ahead as a person who is just trying to make it through this crazy college experience unscathed.

And, here I am, three years later, entering senior year of college. I am here to tell you that these next years will be wonderful if you just do some of the following things. Learn from my good decisions; learn from my bad decisions. Always remember that other people are struggling right now; you just can’t see it happening with them just as they can’t see it happening with you. Other people are calling their moms from the freshmen dorm stairwells too. And, yes, they are also crying even though it looks like they have it all together. The hunt for a good friend group is not a race; good things are always better to wait for than fleeting and convenient things. You may just not meet these friends for a while. In the meantime, work on being happy. Try to do one thing a day that makes you feel peace. Go for a run or go for a walk. Call your best friend. And, for the love of God, try to stay off of Facebook. Comparing your progress to your old high school peers will not help. I can promise you that.

Please try something scary the first week of school. Go to that club meeting. Ask the nice girl from math class to hang out. Do not hesitate so much. If you think he’s cute and nice, then talk to him. Apply for the competitive job. Do not put yourself in the position of becoming a senior and wishing that you had done certain things. Please do not pull out the Common App just yet…try to bloom where you are planted rather than uprooting yourself. All good things take time and college is no exception. Have confidence in yourself and your ability—hell, you were chosen to attend this college for a reason. Try to look at the bigger scheme of things: maybe you have nothing to do this Wednesday night but it is merely one night out of the probable 28,000 ones that you will experience throughout your lifetime. A night in will not kill you.

These years are going to fly by. You will end your freshmen year wondering how you have managed to change so much in one year, and, all of the sudden, it will be a warm afternoon in August of 2014 and you will be getting ready to become a senior. In the blink of an eye, you will be three years older, maybe three years wiser, and most likely three times more wonderful. And, strangely enough, the moments that will stay with you the most will not be the big, giant, monumental ones. They will be these small moments of bliss, unveiled slowly by the collegiate narrative that becomes your life. The approximate 1,400 days that you will spend as a college student will be spent doing the things that challenge you, scare you, and comfort you. You will do things that you never thought possible; like swim in the Mediterranean and get an A in Economics. There will be nights that you will never forget and moments that you will try to not to remember.

There will be times when you feel dumb. There will be moments where your patience is tested. There will be days when you wish you were home, and days at home wishing you were at college. There will be disagreements and dilemmas. There will be celebrations. And, yes, there will be a day when you wake up, suddenly a senior. And on this day you will feel many things; gratitude, happiness, and some anxiety.

But, you will remember the moment when you put on your sunglasses and told your parents, “You guys can go now. I love you. I’ll be fine.” And, then, three years later, you will realize that your initial prediction was correct.

You will be fine, just fine.

Love,

Your Senior Self

Marylander in New England: To-Do List

mhagandefaultMichael Hagan ’15

All it took was a simple reminder email from Southwest Airlines to peak my eagerness to return to Providence College after a full year abroad. A wave of excitement struck me as I read, “Your trip to Providence is just a few days away.” Senior year is upon me. While it is bittersweet to leave my home in Maryland after such a whirlwind of a summer, I am raring to make the most of the time between now and that fateful third weekend in May. One of my goals in going to college far from home has been to experience those things both major and minute that give Rhode Island and greater New England an identity distinct from my own beloved Old Line State. I have begun to list out just several of the important tasks towards this end that need doing before my class’ rendezvous with destiny on May 17:

1. See a Ballgame at Fenway Park
I have missed too many opportunities to visit the cathedral of Boston, and this fall is the time to right this wrong.
Bonus Points: See my Orioles play the Red Sox at Fenway
Bonus Point Multiplier: See the O’s win at Fenway

2. Complete the Awful Awful Challenge at Newport Creamery
Drink three, get your fourth free… what could possibly go wrong?

3. Pay a visit to this Cape everyone is always talking about
It has been alleged that there is some kind of enormous island filled with beautiful beaches and picturesque villages somewhere off the southeastern shore of Massachusetts. I’ll believe it when I see it.

4. See a Film at the Avon Theater on Thayer Street
I might even dress like a hipster for the full experience.

5. Eat Lobster Fresh from the Waters of New England
I may have to sneak some Old Bay to the table…
Bonus Points: The guy who sold me the lobster caught it himself earlier that day

6. ‘Go into the woods to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I cannot learn what it has to teach, and not, when I come to die, discover that I have not lived’
… or at least camp out for a night or two.
Bonus Points: Spot a moose

7. Wear Matching “Four More Years of FDR” Pins with Dr. Grace on Election Day
I hope he wears his for midterms…

8. Max Out a Beer Club Card at The Abbey. Get a T-Shirt.
35-cent wing night may end up being a little pricier for me than in years past…

9. Win an Intramural Championship. Get a T-Shirt.
I’ve been training rigorously for inner-tube water polo for over a year now

10. Crash a Brown Party. Pretend to be an Ivy Leaguer.
I’m sure they will be enamored by tales of my research fellowship in Australia through which I conducted an in depth study of the effects of climate change on the marsupial population.

11. Run the Cox Half-Marathon
This goal may be a stretch, but it is something to aspire too. The necessary training regimen might not be compatible with items 2 and 8.

12. Complete a Senior Th… you know what, we’ll just cross that bridge when we come to it

13. Actually Eat Clams at Clam Jam
So help me God I will arrive on time this year.

14. Persuade a Current High School Senior to Consider PC
Because this experience has been too wonderful not to share
All the Bonus Points: Aforementioned high school senior enrolls

Here’s to the year ahead. I am so thankful for the community we share it in.

No One Warns You About Your Twenties

AbbyDefaultAbby Hevert, ’15

One night, I sat down with a really good friend at a really cool bar. We started to discuss our lives, and the paths that were taken, as well as not taken. There were some predictions made about how the next decade would unfold. After all, we are only twenty-one, and the major topic of most conversations these days is: “So what the hell is going to happen to me? How is next week going to go? How are these next five years going to go?” And, we discovered together that the questions should no longer be about what circumstances and opportunities will unfold, but rather which ones we create and how we react to them. After all, there is no magic recipe for the survival of your twenties– probably because no one’s experience is identical. No one warns you about your twenties.

My teenage years were different. They really did have a purpose as many of them were dedicated to getting into college. And now at age twenty-one, that dream has been realized. I go to college, traveled for four months, and am involved in the extracurriculars that make me feel satisfied. And, yet, I still have little idea where my life is headed next Tuesday, let alone next January or next year. Yes, I have professional goals that I am working toward, but these goals are not guarantees. I cannot bank on them. I am finally at the point in my life where there is more than one logical next step, whether it is pursuing graduate school, working after graduation, or even traveling or taking some time off. There are no longer voices telling me what to do. My voice is the only one that remains.

This life as a twenty-something is not always easy. It can get really tempting to compare our situations to not only each other, but to generations past. Yes, our parents may have gotten married earlier and secured careers faster. But, here we are, this generation of twenty-somethings who, quite frankly, may not have our sh*t together like we think we should. The pressure to be someone or pursue something will always exist for us, but I believe this tension is heightened in the decade that has usually been seen as the “make it or break it” time in a person’s life. Many of us may think that if we do not act now, today, and make plans to secure the things that will eventually bring us happiness, that this happiness will somehow slip through our fingers into an abyss of regret where no second chances exist. Sometimes we may get so preoccupied with the weeks, months, and years ahead that we forget that life as a twenty-something is pretty cool today, right now, in this moment.

Being in your twenties means that you are old enough to know how to do responsible things, like paying bills and building resumes, but young enough to screw up those tasks every day. To this day, I still do not know how to parallel park, however, I got really good at staying out late on Saturday nights in London. But here is the beauty of it: your twenties are the time to experiment with mistakes. Sure, we all have commitments to honor. But these mistakes, late nights and subsequently early mornings, regrets, and embarrassment are all apart of the decade that forms our innermost selves.

In some ways, I feel like I face major changes in my life nearly every day as a twenty-one year old. Life is not always stable at this age, but it sure is fun. I do not have many answers or solutions to the problems my friends and I face except to hold on, buckle up, and get ready for the next turn of events, as there inevitably will be one. Things and people change every day. Our lives are not static and that is the beauty of being a twenty-something. Yes, sometimes things may suck more than usual but our capacity to roll with the punches is what keeps us hanging on. Someone once told me to only worry about the things that will matter in five years. The same advice can also be applied to relationships: only worry about the people who stick it out during the next five years as well.

So all of you twenty-somethings out there: expect to not know what you are doing all of the time. I do not believe your twenties are your “make it or break it” decade. They are your “sometimes make it and sometimes break it” decade. And, no, no one warns you about your twenties. But maybe this is the way it should be. After all, this decade is all about discovery, good and bad. Perhaps the person who would warn you about the things to come in your twenties would act as a spoiler of a movie. I don’t know about you, but surprises are some of the best parts of my life. Turn the corner, hold your breath, and wait for the surprise. It may be good; it may be bad. The only way to find out is to trust that the corner is worth turning. So, take this day, this week, this month, this year and turn every corner you find. Hell, you only get ten years to be in your twenties. Do not waste a single day.

No one warns you about your twenties. But who would want to ruin the conclusion to your story anyway?

After all, I heard there’s an ending no one would expect.

This Is Why We Write.

mhagandefaultMichael Hagan ’15

When people ask me what my courses involve in Oxford, I swiftly respond, “lots of writing.” This has been a writing intensive year for me. My academic program revolves around the preparation and presentation of essays. It is a rigorous though not overwhelming pace of writing. With a little bit of discipline, one can navigate the academic term so as to only endure the occasional all-nighter or intellectual train wreck. One can write in comfort and security. Writing becomes a manageable chore.

There is certainly merit in steady, productive writing habits; they are essential to tasks academic and otherwise. Still, when writing becomes a chore (however enriching), one can lose sense of the vitalizing and connective power of the written word. When we write merely to communicate our more superficial ideas, we can lose touch with the passions and values that underpin them. Such is the authorial malaise I found myself in until recently.

Sometimes it takes another’s words to remind me what my own stand on.

Last month, my friend and fellow Friarside writer Abby Hevert was confronted by every study-abroad student’s worst nightmare. She received a call while traveling in Germany; her grandfather was dying. She was powerless to make it home to say goodbye in time, but she embraced this helplessness with beautiful grace. When she finally made it home, she did what only felt natural: she wrote.

This is why we write. We verbalize what we believe must be shared. Because Abby shared her story, hundreds of readers (myself included) have gained a small share of that highly communicative grace. We write to share our stories. We write to share our beliefs and values. We write to lend a hand. We write to open dialogue. We write about tricky subjects that some try to brush under the rug. We write to sort through our frustrations. We write about what frightens us. We write about what inspires us as well as what disheartens. We write about our niche interests. We write about matters much bigger than ourselves.

We do not claim always to write beautifully, and sometimes we can write recklessly. It was only recently that a friend drew my attention to something cruel and untrue that I wrote in an angry moment last spring. Writing makes us vulnerable to all kinds of criticism, and sometimes criticism is precisely the bucket of cold water we need.

Through Friarside Chats, we write about those matters we care most about. We write for a community we love. Friarside writers have all shared in a healthy, enriching, and constructive experience. It is an experience well worth sharing. This is why we write. Please, write with us.

Dear Class of 2014: Let’s Show ‘Em What We Got

NickDefaultNick Wallace ’14

Dear Class of 2014:

With finals over and commencement week just beginning, I took advantage of the beautiful weather we received last Sunday by going for a long run through Providence. As the run progressed, however, it became less of a workout and more a time of reflection and introspection.

I ran past Piano Bar and reminisced about the Sexless Marriages, the infamous Wheel of Mystery, and the countless requests for “Defying Gravity” and “Let it Go” to be played. I ran past Whiskey Republic, and thought of the chaos that came with trying (and usually failing) to make the 10 o’clock BuzzBus. I ran on Exchange Terrance, and thought of cheering on some of my closest friends as they finished the Cox Half Marathon just a week earlier. I smiled as I ran past Fire and Ice, recalling each time my housemates and I stuffed our faces on College Night.

I got the chills as I saw a sign for the Dunkin Donuts Center, remembering storming the court against Villanova, Marshon’s 52 against Notre Dame, the arrival of Coach Cooley, the heroics of Bryce Cotton, and watching the Friars win a Big East Championship at Madison Square Garden. I finally made my way back up Douglas Avenue and past ol’ reliable Olds, the madness of Clubbies, and a place where everybody knows your name: Brads.

I finished my run at our beautiful outdoor track, but my trip down memory lane did not stop there. I turned off my music and began a slow (and long) walk back to my house on Huxley Avenue. I took in the beauty of Harkins and the grandeur of Ruane. I walked past the Quad and embraced all the memories that came along with it: living in Aquinas, playing Kan Jam instead of studying, and all of the Civ Screams. When I passed Ray, I tried to stay positive; as a growing boy, quantity often trumps quality. I made my way down the Guzman Hill and recalled living with the Guzman Goons freshman year. Finally, I made my way down to Lower Campus and took a long look at Suites: my favorite living experience here at PC.

As commencement quickly approaches, there seems to be a strong focus on the academic experiences we’ve all had here at Providence College. Our degrees will denote our areas of study. Some of us were awarded with academic awards earlier today. But what does it all really mean? I don’t mean to take anything away from academic achievement: I will wear my cords with pride. But my college experience was not defined by my GPA nor my field of study. What will stick with me forever are the relationships I formed with students, professors, administrators, faculty, and staff alike. Moreover, some of the most important lessons I learned over the past 4 years came outside of the classroom: being a member of Student Congress, doing service throughout the city of Providence, organizing around the issues of Academic Freedom and LGBT rights, acting as a fitness instructor, and last but not least, writing as a member of Friarside Chats. When people ask me about Providence College, these are the things I choose to speak about. These are the experiences that will last a lifetime.

But this piece isn’t supposed to serve as a final reflection or a diary entry to make you teary-eyed before we walk across that stage. Instead, I simply wish to make the point that while different colored cords may differentiate us, our academic experience is only one piece of our entire PC experience.

I’ll never forget what Dr. Hyde’s said to my PSC 102 class after returning our first exam. He proclaimed, “If you did well, don’t get a big head; this exam is only worth 15% of your final grade. If you didn’t do well, don’t worry about it; this exam is only worth 15% of your final grade.”

In the hyper-competitive world we live in, we oftentimes get caught up comparing each other’s accolades: our GPA’s, our work experience, and our extra-curricular activities. Similarly, as we all get ready to go off into the “real world,” the same competitive mentality is usually applied. We envy those people with life direction, and seemingly look down on those who are still trying to figure it out.

 

So I call anybody reading this piece to take the advice of Professor Hyde.

Those of you with definite plans post-graduation: Remember all of the hard work it took to get to where you are. You have the necessary tools to be great and succeed; continue to use them. Embarking on this new journey should be exciting and fun. So it’s okay to be serious, but enjoy the ride as you more forward.

Those of you who are still trying to figure it out: There is a big difference between failing, and being a failure. If things don’t work out, if you don’t produce the results you want, that’s okay. But don’t confuse who you are with the results that you produce. Where you are in the world is always temporary. If you want a change, go make it happen.

And finally, to every member of the class of 2014: We will all fail in life at some point or another. But, in the words of Eric Thomas, if you are going to fail, fail forward. Learn from every mistake you make, every setback you endure, every obstacle that you don’t overcome, and every barrier that you cannot budge. Don’t quit. Don’t give up; fail forward.

Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned through four years of college is the importance of faith. And despite my presence at a Catholic college, I am not talking about faith in God. Instead, I am talking about faith in you. In order to accomplish your goals, you need to have a vision. You need to foresee the future. You need to believe that you can do whatever you set your mind to. Nothing great in this world is ever accomplished without faith.

Up until this point, I’ve lived life with a chip on my shoulder. I wear bracelets that say “Prove People Wrong.” But I’ve learned that in this life, the only person worth proving anything to is yourself. So, Class of 2014, don’t try to prove anybody wrong; Prove Yourself Right. Do whatever you can, wherever you are, with whatever you have, and never be satisfied. Know that, wherever you are in life, you can enjoy more, and that you deserve more. Don’t ever settle. Continue to strive for greatness. Continue to be great.

The “real world” is waiting for us, 2014. Let’s show ‘em what we’ve got.