“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.” –Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This piece is a response to the most recent occurrence of racially motivated assault that happened at Providence College this past weekend. For more information, please see Channel 10’s coverage of the events.

Many members of the Friar Family like to think of themselves as “colorblind.” They don’t see race, because it doesn’t matter. Our society is “post-racial,” where men like Barack Obama hold the highest office in the world, women like Oprah and Beyoncé are our queens, and Lebron James is a household name. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 gave black people the opportunity to fully participate in the American dream. That was over 50 years ago; so, many Friars struggle to understand why we have a diversity requirement in our curriculum, why students of color need to have clubs and safe spaces specifically for themselves, and why a list of demands have been sent to Fr. Shanley by people of color in the PC community.

Some Friars might hesitate to engage in the discussion because they are white. They might be afraid of saying the wrong thing, asking the wrong questions, or being accused of something they don’t think they are guilty of. Some might think that as a white person, this isn’t their battle to fight.

Other Friars might shy away from this discussion entirely. They may believe that incidents of racial discrimination are a coincidence, or that there are two sides to every story, or that there simply aren’t enough occurrences to classify the situation as a high priority emergency at our college when we have other projects such as the business school, the new soccer stadium, and new Ruane practice arena to worry about.

Let’s take the plunge together. Let’s talk about race. Let’s learn about what’s happened in history, what’s happening across the country, and what’s happening on our campus.

First, I want to tackle what the term “colorblindness” means. In the United States, many people believe in the American Dream. This is the idea that if people work hard and are given opportunities to succeed, it’s possible for anyone to achieve economic prosperity. This perspective leads us to believe that class and culture, and not institutional racism, are responsible for social inequality. The consequence then, is that we completely stop thinking about and talking about the social, political, and economic arrangements that privilege white people in our country.

I find that my peers at Providence College are hesitant to acknowledge their white privilege. They say things to me like: “My family is working class. I didn’t come from privilege.” Or: “White people can be discriminated against too!” In an effort to dissect these arguments, I’m going to talk about the difference between institutionalized racism, and discrimination.

For most college students, it is helpful to look at institutionalized racism from a business perspective. One noticeable instance of institutionalized racism happens in a person of color’s early life: during elementary school. There have been studies done which show evidence that teachers who have more minority students implicitly expect them to achieve less than their white counterparts, which influences a person of color’s ability to obtain the same resume as their white peers from very early on in his or her career. Later in life, there are studies that show a strong correlation between the ethnicity of a job applicant’s name, and his or her likelihood to receive a call back. If two identical resumes to an accounting firm with the names “Scott” and “Jamal,” Scott will always be called back more often. Another example of systematic discrimination can be seen in the U.S.’s criminal justice system. According to the NAACP’s criminal justice fact sheet, while the drug usage rates for white men are 5 times higher than the reported drug usage of black men, black men are sent to prison for drug offences at 10 times the rate of whites.

Let’s take these macro examples down to the Providence College level. Our university is what some call a PWI- a predominantly white institution. This means that our president is white, our board of trustees is white, most of our professors are white, most of our administrators are white, and most of the students of PC are white. That’s not unlike the rest of the world. We also are similar to the rest of the world in the way we unjustly treat students, faculty and staff of color on this campus.

Within the past several years, there have been numerous issues of racial discrimination of which the student body might not even be aware. For example, our black faculty are stopped at horrifyingly disproportionate rates by PC security than their white counterparts. The normalization of the “white-wave” (the idea that a white student or faculty can cruise by security without question) is representative of a larger concern. There have been numerous incidents of Friars both drawing and uttering racially discriminatory epithets about their peers. Some departments on campus are so notorious for their bias against students of color, that the percentages of students that drop the major merited an outside review.

We also have micro-aggressions within clubs on campus. It’s been just three short years since our official source of news on campus, The Cowl, published an editorial questioning the importance of our Martin Luther King scholarship, claiming that it was unfair to white students. It’s been one short year since Student Congress looked at the proposers of the club Women Empowered and learned that black feminism and feminism are not the same thing. It’s EVERY year that clubs and organizations complain about the unfairness of putting in the extra effort to recruit and retain members of color, resenting the fact that a quasi-quota system exists.

Racial discrimination exists on our campus. That being said, an important distinction for people to make is to understand the difference between implicit and explicit racism. Most PC students are not explicitly racist. However, something that needs to addressed is that implicit racism is just as serious, because students can have the best intentions, but still be racist. Something as small as the spreading or believing stereotypical jokes is an example of implicit racism. But, most of the time, what implicit racism involves is being a complacent bystander.

The students of color on this campus are in physical danger. Both male and female Friars of color have been attacked physically and verbally. However, despite these very real and present threats, the college continues to delay the release of an Official Action Plan to target the demands made by our Friar Family.

The goal of our diversity requirement here at PC is to make sure that students understand that the ramifications of hundreds of years of systematic, cyclical enslavement and segregation have not disappeared in the past 50 years. We cannot expect racism and prejudice that was built up over half a millennium to be alleviated in just a few decades. We need Moore Hall as a safe space multicultural center as a symbol that this college cares about more cultures than just those developed in the West. With this comes a change in the way we structure our DWC program. Slowly, instead of solely using Western Culture as the core curriculum and ethnic studies as electives, we need to rework the curriculum to reflect the diverse mixture of cultures throughout history. We need a VP of Inclusion and Diversity to be a tenured faculty member so that they can safely advocate for the needs of minority students, without risking his or her job. We need diversity training for faculty and students, so that when this next class of 2019 arrives, the most diverse class in PC history, they can learn and grow in a safe environment that isn’t afraid to address the sectional loyalties that divide us.

This is my plea to the students of Providence College: let our loyalties transcend race. We are the Friar Family. We care about each other. So, when some of our members are hurting, we stand up for each other. What does this look like?

It looks like Ithaca College. If Fr. Shanley continues to deny the Black Coalition a 10 year strategic plan, then as a family, we should be willing to walk out of our classes in silent protest. The safety of our Friar brothers and sisters is too important to not prioritize above all else.

It looks like what athletes did at Mizzou. Friar athletes, Coach Cooley: we’re looking at you for leadership. We need to make the administration at Providence College care about this issue as much as we do- and that might look like showing solidarity on their uniforms, or a statement from our nationally ranked program to get their attention.

Father Shanley, we’re looking at you. We’ve heard from the Black Studies Executive Committee, the Women’s Studies Executive Committee, and from the Board of Multicultural Student Affairs. Each has condemned the events of the past weekend, and have called the behavior what it was: racial discrimination. Your turn is long overdue. Now, not only do we want an email from you stating the college’s zero-tolerance policy for racial intolerance, injustice, and aggression against Providence College students and faculty, we also want the more comprehensive, systematic changes laid out for you in the demands of the Black Coalition.

You have a choice. Next year is the college’s centennial. We have the unique opportunity to take this incredible moment and make history: and be hailed in newspapers across the country as being a Catholic liberal-arts school who attacks 21st century issues of race head on. Or, you can choose to continue to focus on fundraising, while putting racial discrimination on this campus on the backburner. It’s no secret that your time at Providence College is coming to an end. The orchestra you’ve conducted for a decade has played some sweet tunes: a hockey National Championship, a basketball Big East Championship, Ruane, the new business center. But I promise you that your legacy, all that you have worked so hard to be remembered by, will mean nothing if you continue to be an implicitly racist leader.

By: Taylor Gibson ’17

Original Photo: Humans of Providence College: by Minggui Yactayo, Class of 2018

Come Think With Us.

Whether you actually believe it or not, you have probably heard the phrase, “College will be the best years of your life” countless times from multiple people.

Maybe you’re reading this thinking that your college years have in fact been the best years of your life so far.

Or maybe, you’re reading this and you’re not sure if your college years have lived up to the expectations that you and the rest of society have set for them.

Or maybe, you were reminded of those words towards the end of your college career and feel like you have missed out on what should have been the best years of your life.

But maybe, your college years have been good but you think life has even better years in store for you.

Or maybe – you’re somewhere in between.

No matter where you fall on the debate that the ages of (roughly) 18-22 will be the “best years of your life” and no matter where you currently are in that stage (i.e. reading this as you are deciding on which college to enroll in or reading it as a college graduate thinking back on your college career), we can all agree on one sentiment about this time: College is a place where you will grow and transform and no matter your experience, you will come out of your four years a much different person.

Your college years will make you think and talk and act and see in many different ways. You’ll probably wear many different hats – from an intramural team member, to the kid that sits in front of me in class, to library buddy, to the neighbor down the hall on my floor, to the familiar face I always see on campus but never know if I should say hi to or not but we both know that we recognized each other. You will meet many different people. You will learn different theories and read many textbooks. You will become friends with different people and learn different things that you always wanted to. And you will become friends with people that you never thought you would meet and learn things that you never thought existed. These years will be different. And maybe these years will be very important to you. Or maybe they won’t be everything that you had hoped and imagined. But wherever you are and what you do during these “best years of your life”, you will learn more about yourself and the type of person that you want to be.

And I think that is exactly the point.

Friarside Chats is a forum which began in 2012 by student leaders on the campus of Providence College who wanted to investigate bigger questions and grapple with societal topics and their effects on the collegiate, local, and global level. These leaders were individuals who collaborated the use of their education, knowledge, informed opinions and an online blog space to create a free forum for ideas to be dissected and shared amongst their readers.

Sometime, these chats discussed the PC community suggesting ways that we as a community could grow together. Others wrote about controversial administrative decisions made on our campus. Other articles were written to talk about topics outside this campus. Articles were written about combating problematic societal norms and stereotypes that we can agree need to change. Sometimes they shared advice for the next generation of students on the campus that they have found as their home. The posts were very personal and touching,  sharing their stories, passions, and even reflections over their own college years. Regardless of topic, the common theme throughout all of the writing, reading, reflecting, and sharing of these articles, or “chats”, is that through thinking, we can discover many things.

College campuses are giant think tanks where many different types of people come to learn, think, collaborate, live, enjoy, invest and grow. And during this process, growing leads to discovery.

This is exactly what Friarside Chats has done, and it is exactly what we are hoping it will continue to do.

We, a group of current PC students, have been lucky enough to, in a way, “inherit” Friarside Chats from students who we looked up to as role models when we first got to campus our freshmen year. We still look up to these students. They left their mark on campus and on the next generation of PC students through their writing, collaborating, and discovering.

And now it is our turn.

Maybe college won’t be the best years of my life or maybe it will. But hopefully through this forum, I will be able to learn through engaging this dialogue now as an upperclassman.

So, let’s start this again. Let’s be a part of each other’s stories and discover things we didn’t know but can only learn together.

Come think with us.

Organizing and Acting for Justice

Andrew Konnerth ’17 & Taylor Gibson ’17
The last Monday of the 2014-2015 academic year seemed to be an ordinary sunny first day of finals week. The PC student body was migrating towards the classic IG photo spots to take pictures, and I was prepping my own camera for a community event on campus. I had been looking forward to this dialogue for some time; PC faculty and students had organized a peaceful rally in support for labor rights, specifically in the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Providence, as well as for racial equality here on campus. For some time, the hotel has violated the rights of their workers, spurring a series of boycotts to demand more humane working conditions. Within our own college community, there exists similar injustice in the form of racial profiling against persons of color. The hope of this rally was to continue the conversation on these issues and petition the college to act on a series of demands put forth by the key organizers.
Upon arrival to the iconic Harkins gate on River Ave, I realized very quickly that this was not something that I was going to photograph, export the pictures, and be done with it. One of the first things that I learned was that this rally is nothing new. In fact, just two short years ago, Providence students and faculty gathered in the same way to make very similar demands. The result of that petition came in the form of a new Anti-Racial Profiling statement issued by the college, along with some new training for PC Security.
However, these changes were not enough. Today, I heard the story of Dr. Julia Jordan-Zachery, an Assistant Professor of Political Science and the Department Head of Black Studies. This morning, Dr. JZ heard that she received tenure. Typically, this is a cause for celebration and relief for professors. For Dr. JZ—it was only bittersweet.
In the past eight years she has worked at Providence College, Dr. Jordan-Zachery has been profiled by PC Security no less than seven times. Some of her white, male colleagues spoke up saying that they have been teaching here for over ten years and have never been stopped—only being given the “white wave.” Dr. JZ spoke about how people explain Security’s actions in a variety of ways: it’s the way she dresses or the car she drives. Jokingly, she pointed out that with her level of intelligence, she knows how to dress. She drives a car that’s a dime a dozen here at PC. The only thing that’s left, she said, is the color of her skin; the one thing she cannot control.
Faculty members are not the only ones that experience the profiling described by Dr. JZ. Graduating senior Bini Tsegaye also spoke out through his own experiences here. “I am tired and weary, those who are behind me and will come after me will go through this.” He spoke not just about one but several instances where his membership was questioned, every time making him feel less and less a part of the “Friar family.” In an encounter with another student, his place in Providence College was summed up in terms of “need” instead of “want,” referring to the idea that the school recruits to fulfill diversity quotas instead of choosing valued applicants to enrich the Friar community. If the concept of race is being utilized as an indicator of both enrollment and safety and security factors, than we must question the ethics and standards of our community.
That was what this rally was all about: the Providence College community is currently sending a message to people of color that they do not belong here. When students, such as Bini, were confronted by Security guards, they defended themselves by saying that they were just making sure that he wasn’t a “neighborhood kid.” As Matt Smith said in front of the crowd in the Ray circle this morning—he is a neighborhood kid. What PC is guilty of is systematic exclusion based on race. We dissociate from the neighborhood community because it is dangerous—this is a way of explaining away racism. We then allow our staff members, people in positions of authority, to protect this system. Students and faculty are the overwhelming majority of those stopped and questioned by Security, that much was made clear today.
We can understand that there is a call to address an injustice in our community: the persistence of racism. Whether we are affected by this in one way or another regardless of our skin color, we have a civic duty to protect the rights, values, and dignity of those we call our own. As Friars, we engage with the college’s mission in welcoming “qualified men and women of every background” based on their “God-given dignity, freedom, and equality.” If we are to uphold these morals, then we must act to change how we look at one another and how our school defines who we are. If race is a determining factor in opportunity and potential, then we must persist with what we began today: organizing and acting to achieve justice.

Keep Your Head Up

Andres Taborda ’15

“So look up from your phone, shut down that display,
take in your surroundings, and make the most of today.
Just one real connection is all it can take,
to show you the difference that being there can make.” 
Gary Turk

What I thought was a compulsive midnight run to McDonald’s on a weeknight ended up leading to one of the most eye-opening conversations. After struggling to talk to a box where there was human on the other side taking our order, a few friends and I  sat in the Davis lot inhaling fast food, and came to the realization that we might be screwed.

Looking back at the last four years triggers a trip down memory lane. What if I told you that we’ve spent most of the past four years looking down instead of up? I’m just as guilty as you are. We’ve been staring deep into the pixels of our iPhones and Galaxies and what not trying to avoid awkward encounters or figuring out where everyone is at any given time.

I have been trying to come up with some farewell words as I prepare to leave Providence College in two weeks time. It was after watching this YouTube video that everything was put into perspective. I thought about the great memories I had made at PC, but couldn’t help but think about the many more I could have had. Most of the ones never made were because I was on my phone, with headphones in, or simply just looking down.

Where to begin? If only in the past four years I had paid attention to whoever was trying to make small talk in the elevator instead of aggressively making Twitter reload on my phone. What if I had taken the time to say hello to someone making the trek up Guzman Hill to our 8:30? That could have helped the serious case of the Mondays. Or what if you had gone in for the kiss instead of frantically texting your friends for advice on whether or not to make a move?

That escalated quickly, didn’t it? Here’s the thing. Our generation has lost that personal feel and the ability to interact with other humans. Do we even know what taking a risk is anymore? Why bother facing rejection in person when Snapchat will delete it for you in 1-10 seconds and you can forget about it? It’s so much easier to send Snapchats and tweet and text people, but when it comes to interacting with others in person, we freeze. Steve Jobs and Co. put the world in the palm of our hands, but took away one of the best qualities a human can have: personal interaction.

Here’s what I’m trying to get at. We need to start claiming back our humanity. Technology is preventing us from making the memories that our parents still remember decades later. Our memories are becoming like Snapchats. They’ll disappear in a matter of seconds. So I’m offering my apologies here to everyone I so easily send Snapchats to but ignored in person. If I flirted with you over any of these apps because it was easier, but refused to tell you how I felt in person, I’m sorry for wasting time and not stepping up to the plate. To everyone who had a conversation with me and I told you I was “multitasking” when I kept looking at my phone, odds are I don’t remember our conversation and how I wish I did.

To my fellow seniors: We’re about to head into the real world. Two weeks from this exact moment (11:30 a.m.) Father Shanley will open our commencement ceremony. We (insert expletive here) did it! You actually need no better reason to have your head held high. As we go forth, let’s make a pact to look up and we’ll see how it went when we come back in five years for our first reunion.

This world is pretty screwed up sometimes, but I can almost guarantee that no one will propose to their future spouse on Snapchat nor will they say, “I just fell in love when she tweeted at me.” But what you will hear is, “We just locked eyes and that’s when I knew she was the one” or “We just kept in touch after college, met up, and regretted wasting so much time.” These are the romantic stories we hear from our parents or even those that entered adulthood before cell phones did everything for you. What’s so bad about bringing these back?

To everyone else: Make the best out of the four years you have here. Keep your head up and make sure that every moment, whether good or bad, is a memory that stays with you and doesn’t disappear when your brand new iPhone 6 takes a plunge in the pool this summer. Take the risk. Take a chance. Do it for our generation, not for the Vine or the Snapchat Story.

Never Lose Your Passion

Emily Kennedy ’15

When I came to Providence College as an eager 18-year-old, I was brimming with passion and the sense of possibility. The campus was filled with energy and excitement as 1,000 young, fresh minds arrived glossy-eyed and nervous, but ready to be inspired. Everything was new and we had nothing to lose. Our potential had yet to be molded. As my fellow classmates and I were ushered to the field for Play Fair, I saw a similar sense of passion and excitement for what we could do in the next four years and beyond. I met classmates who enjoyed history, had a passion for public service, wanted to change the education system, were interested in becoming a doctor, and were budding entrepreneurs.

Now four years later, when asked the question, “what are your post-grad job prospects?” I am increasingly aware of the common response, “I am working at Liberty Mutual, PWC, Deloitte” — or insert other prestigious Wall Street name. I hear about the aggressive recruiting from “Insight Global” and the promising accounting jobs at “Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co., Ltd.”  But why does it seem that, like herded cattle, many of us are just following the crowd?

So what happened? Where did the history buff go? Or the girl who wanted to change education policy? Will that kid still start his own business? How have these bright, inspired, hopeful freshmen morphed from being driven by passion to being goaded into conformity along with thousands of other post-graduates?

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the need to be practical, and finding a decent job after graduation is a massive accomplishment. I also know that some people really do have a passion for finance, or accounting or consulting. But I’m also not convinced that the volume of new grads the big recruiters hire is the best use of our talent and ambition. We were tossed in a sea of liberal arts education for a reason. We learned to think critically and reason practically. We understand the trajectory of Western Civilization and learned more than a little bit about ethics and theology.

Those are credentials too. The kind that make previous generations say we’re their hope and promise. Yet at every job fair I attended and every email I received from Career Education, I was invited in with a slick and well-worn marketing pitch. Few seniors have any idea how to get a job, let alone know what they want to pursue. But these companies are brilliant marketers. They know how to make us feel special. They personalize their emails and say they could really use our insight and creativity. Of course, how many of them really expect to tap our creativity? How many of them really think we’re special? We don’t know what we want, but apparently these companies know that we would be a good fit.

Maybe I’m too much of an idealist, but I think that most young, determined students want to make a positive impact on the world. We want to have a sense of purpose, to feel empowered. I know that kid who spent spring break traveling to rural Pennsylvania for Habitat for Humanity does. I know the girl who taught dance classes to little kids over the weekend does. Even the guy who spent his evenings tutoring English to employees on our campus does. Providence College students are driven to do good things. We can do anything. There is so much more out there than crunching numbers and spreadsheets to make more money for those with the most. If that’s what you love, I’m glad that you love it because the world needs you. But if your first job out of college is not your dream pursuit, please don’t let go. Do not forget the creative energy, the innovative spirit, and the carefree excitement that you brought to PC when you became a Friar four years ago. And remember, more than anything, never lose your passion.

Driving, Dreaming


Matthew Henry Smith, ’16

Last night I had a dream that the sun was setting and I was in the car with my parents. My father was driving, my mother was beside him in the passenger seat, and I was sitting in the back fraught with confusion. I was confused because my father, Francis, was telling my mother and me about all of the things he wanted to do. Some of the things were small household tasks and others were plans big enough to change the world. I leaned forward, putting my hand on his shoulder and tenderly told him that he could not do these things because he had died. He became angry and shook off my hand, telling me that it wasn’t true. How it could be true if he was driving? My mother never moved, just keeping her eyes on the road. I woke up in tears.

My father spent so much of the last four years in hospitals that the past few weeks without him haven’t been totally foreign in feeling. And beyond the usual, “He was suffering and now it’s a blessing that he is at peace,” I haven’t verbalized the permanence of his absence. Then again, things are starting to come to my attention, like when the front door opens in the evening and I find myself expecting to hear the dog bark, my dad’s briefcase thud to the floor and my mother to call out, “Stand up; your father’s home.” Now the dog barks, the door opens, and a stranger delivers flowers. They are beautiful but they are not my father.

We have all gone back to work and to the places where we live, finding purpose in the busyness, new joys tinged with melancholy. I often begin to message my dad when I find good news to share, but then close my phone when I realize the futility of this action. Moving on will take a long time and the process will likely be a jarring sequence of bangs and busts.

Yet the dream I had last night has me thinking differently. Liturgically speaking we are in a time of Lent, when Catholics walk with Christ on his journey of sacrifice. Despite this, in my heart it is Pentecost, the celebration of Christ sending his Holy Spirit to guide the Apostles in spreading the Gospel. I believe the spirit of my father has interrupted my efforts to move on by reminding me of the work he has yet to do.

In my dream, my father wasn’t incredulous because he couldn’t accept his own death; he was incredulous that I could not see beyond it. I was like Thomas, doubting the miraculous, assuming that my life would be forever devoid of the man who raised me. But it isn’t like that at all. My father shaped my moral compass and remains involved in my choices, each, in part, a reflection of his values. As the Holy Spirit guides all of us who mourn the death of Christ and hope in his resurrection, the living spirit of my father guides me, my family and all who he touched.

Last night I did not dream of my father; my father came to meet me in my dream. And he told me that his work isn’t finished. And he told me not to doubt that it could be done.  And my mother keeps her eyes on the road because she knows it is so. She is driven by my father and, now reminded, so am I. He wanted me to see that.

My father lives and it is true because he is driving.


Matthew has been a contributor to Friarside Chats since April of 2013. This is his final post.

Remembering Francis Smith

The Friarside Chats team and community offers its love and prayers to Matthew Henry Smith and his family. Matthew’s father, Francis Smith, died Tuesday morning. Mr. Smith was a devoted father and Smith Hill community leader. He was a friend and neighbor of Providence College. Read more about Francis’ life and legacy.

Please consider making a donation to the Smith Hill Community Development Corporation in Mr. Smith’s honor.

Smith Hill Community Development Corporation, 231 Douglas Ave., Providence, 02908.

Homeless Love


Abby Hevert, ’15

I have worked with homeless people since the beginning of September. In that time, I have worked tirelessly to find these people homes, especially amidst the gloomy and frigid weather that Rhode Island has given its residents. My clients struggle with many different things. Universally, they have experienced trauma, often starting in childhood and continuing on to their days in shelter or on the street. Until I started working with these people, I did not understand that homelessness in and of itself is traumatic. It is completely destabilizing and truly shakes people to their cores. It disrupts peace and removes certainty. Homelessness tests the strength of those who are subject to it by adding extra stressors: divorces, child custody issues, health problems, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and even monetary abuse. Therefore, the homeless try to find ways to cope. Yes, it is true that some may turn to different substances to try to ease their pain. And while many people may find this hard to believe, I am a witness to true beauty every day I go to work. This is because I get to see how unwavering, steadfast, and wonderful Homeless Love can truly be.

And yes, in some ways I am talking about romantic love. I have worked with couples who do not stop holding each other’s hands throughout the entire day. They steal kisses from one another when they think no one is watching. These couples still look at one another with adoring glances when they are standing in line for food stamps and have not showered in days. And while they do argue and disagree, they often are forced to put these differences aside because of the unique stressors they face. Suddenly, when they become homeless, the disagreements that most couples have about things like perceived insensitivity or jealousy become insignificant. These issues become petty because more important things take center stage. Basic needs become the priority as they merely try to survive in a world that constantly rejects them. When I asked one couple what keeps their love for one another so strong, they simply answered: “Being homeless is too hard to do without someone else. You just need a partner to help you get through this time in your life.”

Sometimes these partners come in less traditional forms. Often, older women will try to take younger women under their wings as they navigate the shelter system. They demonstrate a kind of motherly love and concern for the women who are young enough to be their daughters. Often, some unlikely pairs develop. One man with cognitive issues and mental delays may pair up with a big, strong, and well-functioning man, who protects the cognitively impaired one with a kind of brotherly love. Then there are the people who do not want, and believe that they do not need, anyone. However, despite their best attempts to keep others away, their homeless peers still make sure to invite them to go get meals at the local soup kitchen.

However, the truest form of Homeless Love can best be seen in the face of devastation. When one of their own dies, the homeless often rally with one another to mourn their deaths. Too often, the homeless may try to cut their misery short by taking their own lives or nursing their wounds with drugs that may cause their demise. And then, their homeless peers are forced to grieve the loss of their friends. This is partly done by candlelight vigils, performed to honor and preserve the dignity of all homeless lives. When the homeless die, they often do not have the monetary resources to hold proper funerals. And, so, they often die without proper recognition or anyone to claim them as their own. However, Homeless Love usually prevails as the departed person’s homeless friends gather to honor the life of someone who helped his or her peers simply get through homelessness. In a way, the homeless are all partners in the same journey toward peace and stability. Their devotion to one another does not die even in the wake of physical death.

And this, in my opinion, is what true love is all about. It is about loving each other, whether romantically or in the form of friendship, to the end in an unconditional way. It is not about giving of oneself and expecting something in return. It is, instead, a sweet offering of loyalty and companionship. It is not dressed up and does not insist on fancy dinners or extravagant gifts. It sustains us in the darkest of times. This kind of true love is happy with simple conversation, warm hugs, and words of encouragement. It is not proud or boastful; it is humble and quiet. Really, this life of ours, not only makes love look hard, but it makes it work hard. And again, this love can be demonstrated with our families, our friends, our colleagues, or significant others. It is not enough to show up; we must show our beloveds our whole selves, even if we do not look our best, did not get the job, or did not have money for the gift. Really, we must all strive for the kind of love that is bare, not the kind of love that is embellished.

We must strive for Homeless Love.

The Thing About New Years’ Resolutions

DefaultUncroppedMegan Grammatico, ’15

Full disclosure: I spent the two weeks after New Years’ groaning about the amount of people at the gym. To be fair, it was always packed. Not college-kids-home-from break sort of packed, but the “every New Years Resolutioner that vowed to get healthy in the New Year descended on my tiny YMCA gym” kind of packed that ultimately convinced me to run (read: freeze and give up) outside rather than wait for a treadmill. As I was leaving, the woman working the desk said to me “just give it a week, and they’ll all be gone.” I laughed a little and left, but the comment made me think about New Years Resolutions in general, and how easy it is to get sucked into a mentality that is both unsustainable and unhealthy.

First of all, let me be entirely clear that if your resolution is to get healthy this New Year, good for you! Take up all the space at the gym that you need—a commitment, new or old, to fitness and health is something we should encourage and admire; not groan because there’s a tiny wait for a treadmill. With that said, if your anything like me, your list of New Years Resolutions can easily start to look like a “Things I’m Going to do in 2015 to Be The Perfect Person” list. When I went back on my computer to look at mine after leaving the gym, I actually laughed out loud. It was an entire page long, broken down into sections and sub-sections: academics, fitness, professional goals, and books to read. It was ridiculous, and it would have failed miserably. Despite my best efforts to resist, I had once again gotten sucked into the allure of doing everything perfectly. It’s a temptation that us first-born perfectionists have to be particularly on guard against—tying your identity to your achievements pretty much always ends badly.

So, rather than having a crazy list of resolutions that involve Doing All The Things and Being All The Things, I decided I would take a different approach this year. Rather than an obsessive list of goals and rules and obligations to meet, I decided to make a list of things I’m not going to try harder on in 2015. For me, this is about giving myself permission to be imperfect, permission to slow down, and permission to let some things just fall by the wayside. And so, I give you, Friarside readers, my 2015 anti-New Years Resolutions:

Things I am Not Going to Try Harder on in 2015:

  1. Being on time. Five minutes has never changed anything (except maybe brain surgery, and that’s not exactly on my list of daily activities). If the Dunkin line is going to make me 3 minutes late for class, so be it. One of my favorite things about living abroad was learning that an obsession with punctuality is more of an American cultural phenomenon than anything else. It’s just not something I’m going to worry about this year.
  1. Trying to make Not My People happy. There are important people in my life: family, close friends, roommates—they matter, and I will try as hard as I can to make their lives easier and happier. Everyone else? Not something I can control, so I refuse to worry about it.
  1. Counting carbs/calories/any number that has to do with food. If I can eat reasonably healthy, most of the time, that’s good enough for me. Brownies are good for your soul. And don’t dare try to tell me the amount of calories in Panera mac’n’cheese. Ignorance is cheesy, delicious, not-good-for-my-lactose-intolerance bliss.

That’s it. Those are my resolutions for 2015. Try it: go ahead and cross out any ridiculous resolution that you’ll abandon by mid-February. We don’t need to manufacture failure—real life does that well enough on its own.

Make Gentle the Life of this World


Abby Hevert, ’15

On April fourth 1968, a man died. The adjectives used to describe him could probably never accurately define the breadth of his impact or the depth of his life. He did not pass away peacefully, but instead was robbed of a life that helped to change, and is still changing, the social and political framework of the United States of America. Many people know him for a speech that he gave on another April day. It is often called the “I have a dream speech,” and Martin Luther King Junior delivered it. In it, he details his dreams for America and its youth: I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character…I have a dream today.

And while many people know and love this speech, they often do not reference another speech that is, in my opinion, one of the most eloquent addresses in American history, the speech that Robert Kennedy gave on the day that Martin Luther King Junior died. In it, he pleaded for peace, nonviolence, tolerance, and solidarity among all Americans in the wake of King’s death:

 So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, yeah that’s true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love – a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke


But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

The phrase “life of this world” always struck me as important. It implies that the world is not a place where we live; it is a place that lives and is affected by the actions of the people who populate it. It has a life of its own, and has stories of its own. We are all involved in a kind of plot where we climb the climaxes and stumble into its valleys. King even mentions these ups and downs in his speech:

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight…

 And this is what the life of King did; it started to make his dream come true. This is the life well lived. It dreams extravagantly and works toward those dreams day and night. It is consumed by these dreams and must accomplish these dreams. And while many of us have many dreams, only some are these all-consuming kind of dreams that seem as though they are requirements for living instead of things in life that we would like to have. Sure, I dream of one day owning my own jeep wrangler and a house on the beach, but I must become a social worker who will help to heal the human spirit. One of my professors calls this phenomenon a kind of “internal musting:” actions that we must perform instead of actions that we think we should perform. Some people call it a calling and it can come in many forms. Maybe you are called to be a teacher or a lawyer or a banker. Perhaps you are meant to be a father or a mother. Maybe you are called to open a nonprofit or a foundation. Or maybe you are called to level the metaphorical playing field for all of America’s youth by working toward fairer governmental policies. No matter what this “musting” is, you must do it. Listen intently and make decisions accordingly.

And, yet, it is especially important that we all follow the same dream that Kennedy delineated in his speech. We must all work toward making “gentle the life of this world.” It is necessary that we use our gifts, with which we are all undoubtedly bestowed, to create straighter paths, lower mountains, and higher valleys. After all, we are all given one life and these collective lives make up the life of this world.

 So, we may as well tame the savageness of the human condition in the name of Martin Luther King Junior and all of the martyrs who have died to make the life of this world just a little more gentle.