Dear PC: Acquire Louie’s

mattdefaultMatthew Henry Smith ’16

Dear Providence College: Acquire Louie’s Tavern

Providence College needs a place for all students, those above and below the age of 21, to mingle, dance and fist-pump. For those who would quickly point to McPhail’s and say, “look we do” you would be correct. McPhail’s exists as an on-campus entertainment center with a bar, a dance floor, pool tables, televisions and mood lighting. Student Congress is working on extending the hours of the establishment and offering alcohol more days per week. SAIL is working on many engaging events for the semester in terms of weekend programming and even offers grants to student organizations so that they can hold events on weekends.

But there remain some issues with the concept of McPhail’s. While it provides weekend programming, this programming is not consistently the nightlife club-culture that students really crave. The lack of appeal is exacerbated by McPhail’s structural issues, chiefly, that you have to go through the student center to get to this bar. On nights where events require costumes or upscale attire, the location can definitely be a buzz kill. There is no entrance to the bar from outside of the structure of the Slavin Center, which would arguably create that much sought after “club vibe.”*

And so, apart from some of these successful “themed” shindigs that take place on Friday and Saturday Nights, I “have heard” that the majority of students who are less engaged by these are heading out to the bars underage. I’ve “heard” that this has been the practice for years now. And I know that this is why Louie’s Tavern shut down before it was closed by the State.

I have had friends get arrested at bars for being there underage, and all of us have at least heard whispers of the Fake ID process; the hurdles, the expense, the risks. Why are students doing this? Especially considering, aside from the “hot-kid-dangerous” sex appeal of being bad, nightlife has become a real ordeal, eventually underclassmen have to do a risk analysis and say “Is it worth it?”

While many of my peers are beginning to answer “No,” I think it is time for PC to do a risk assessment, too. With these businesses being tied to PC students, we need to discuss whether or not the campus amenities have provided a legitimate alternative.

To be clear, I also argue that the driving force behind underage students going to bars is not the pursuit of alcohol. Chances are they could accomplish that in dorms, (and for much less money). The heart of the matter is that there is a strong, undeniable appeal to nightlife, camaraderie and dancing that is not intrinsically tied to “breaking the rules.”**

So, while we work on getting McPhail’s back in Saturday Night Shape, let’s talk about a real opportunity: Louie’s Tavern. Located conveniently on Douglas right near one of our PC Shuttle stops the bar has a reputation of being real a hip place for students to enjoy themselves. My suggestion is that PC should purchase or lease Louie’s and operate it under the same name with these conditions:

  • That it be open, 18+, to all PC students, alumni and friends of PC students
  • That it serve booze only to those of age
  • That it be staffed by PC students and “locals” (with hiring preference given to members of the Wanskuck community)
  • That it play REALLY good music to REALLY dance to

And that’s all, Friars. This could be a solution that benefits all of us. What with local student landlords being brought before the state, the closing of Louie’s Tavern, publicized student arrest and our perennial “red-cup” problem we must remember that the actions of students in the community are tied to the institution, and that the actions, or non-actions, of the institution, are tied to its students. Let’s all do a risk assessment this weekend.

Cheers, Friars.

*Student Amanda Talbot has been shouting about this for years.

**Only a little bit.

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A Plus-Sized Problem

Nick Wallace ‘ 14NickDefault

Before the New Year kicked off, Cosmo released this piece, showing off “Plus-Sized” Supermodel Robin Lawley’s new Swimwear. The piece has gone viral, and for good reason. Robin Lawley is listed at 6’2 and 180 lbs, with a 32” waistline and a 42” hip measurement (at least according to this “Plus-Sized Model”  listing.) Thus, her Body Mass Index (the universal height-weight ratio used to assess obesity throughout the world today) is 23.1, which puts her in the “normal” weight category according to accepted standards.

Do yourself a favor, and take a look at the pictures in the first link; she is clearly a beautiful woman. In fact, she is drop dead gorgeous, and my guess is that most people will agree with me. Upon initially looking at her, the first thing that comes to mind is her beauty, not “she’s bigger than most models.” So I see an inherent problem here. I see a picture of a seemingly physically healthy and beautiful woman. However, her beauty is overshadowed and undermined by the label that comes along with it: “Plus-Sized.” In the fashion industry, this term has become synonymous with being larger than a size 8. It’s no secret that the woman in those photographs has a higher body fat percentage than most other models. Perhaps it is even an accomplishment that a “Plus-Sized” model made it into the magazine in the first place. But for goodness sakes, she is 6’2, which means she’d have to extremely skinny in order to fit into that size 8. What are us mere mortals who aren’t worthy of a magazine cover spots supposed to think? Is any woman above a size 8 therefore considered a “Plus-Sized” human being? I think not.

Models have always fascinated me. The word itself denotes an ideal. A role model is someone to look up to. A model airplane replicates what an actual airplane is supposed to look like. A model citizen presumably perfectly abides by the rule of law of a specific nation. Likewise, we as a society tend to view the human models that appear in magazines, television ads, and Hollywood films as ideal looking human beings. And why wouldn’t we? They are good-looking. They are lean. They are sexy. We see their bodies and think “Wow, that’s impressive. I’d love to look like that.”

But the truth is that the images of the beautiful people we see on the covers of magazines, appear in Hollywood films, and walk the runways wearing designer clothing are fabricated; they aren’t entirely real. The small and fit Victoria Secret Models wear push-up bras in order make their breasts appear larger. Fitness models, like bodybuilders, go through days of intense dieting in order to manipulate their water weight to appear leaner before their photo shoots. They exercise before the photo is taken in order to get “a pump” (in which their muscles are more striated and veins more vascular), and get lathered with oil in order to create better light reflection. But it doesn’t stop there. Even after the photo is taken a fake tan is given, skin blemishes are alleviated, abs are made tighter, and muscles are enlarged, all with the aid of computer-based software. The photos we drool over and the bodies we wish we had are not even completely authentic.

I don’t mean to take anything away from these people. Their bodies are the result of hard work in the gym, proper nutrition, and determination to succeed. When they appear on the cover of a magazine, they deserve it; they earned it. But there are surely some negative consequences to our society’s adoration of fabricated bodies. Admittedly, while each and every one of us has our own preferences to whom we are attracted to, now more than ever before there is this notion of an “ideal” body type for each sex. Men should be tall and handsome, with nice muscular tone. Women should have nice curves but still be fit and lean. I’ll be the first to admit that I tend to be attracted to fit women. But does the fact that for my entire life fit women have been portrayed as sexy and desirable via the media have anything to do with it? It’s at least something to think about: as a white male that is relatively fit (at least I think so), I’m expected to be attracted to white females that are also fit.

Consequently, what has ensued is a society in which too many people are uncomfortable with their bodies. Too many people look themselves in the mirror and do not like what they see. Too many people think they have to change in order to be accepted. Too many people feel the need to change their physical appearance in order to be beautiful. According to this study, between 40 and 60 percent of elementary school girls are concerned about their weight or becoming too fat. Additionally, the prevalence of eating disorders has more than doubled in over a decade. What’s the most hypocritical thing about all of this? It is in the best interest of large companies and for the American government for us to feel this way! They want us to feel self-conscious about the way we look. They want us to feel undesirable. They want us to spend money on gym memberships, personal trainers (ironically, I happen to be one), weight-loss pills, cosmetic surgeries, special foods, and much more. The system that we currently live in is flawed. A double standard exists, in that our capitalist system promotes consumption of goods while also glorifying “sexiness,” which essentially comes in the form of thinness. Julie Guthman, author of Weighing In says it best, arguing, “In the interest of economic growth, contemporary US capitalism has helped to create obesity as a material phenomenon and then made it a moral problem that must be resolved in a way that is equally kind to capitalism.” In essence, others make money off of our insecurities. The media has created a form of unattainable happiness, which we all seek but will never find. It’s sickening.

So where does this rant end? Goddammit, the model in that picture was beautiful enough to be a model. Nobody needed a Plus-Sized label next to it. To any female who has ever felt self conscious about her body, you are beautiful. YOU. ARE. BEAUTIFUL. I may have never seen you before. I may not know you. I may never meet you. But I know it’s true. And the only person that can convince you otherwise is yourself.

Many people seize the New Year as an opportunity to make changes. People will turn to the gym to finally get their “dream body,” and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, as a Personal Trainer it is my job to encourage it. I for one am always looking to improve my body composition. To me, there is always room for improvement. But make sure your “dream body” is in fact yours. If you are physically healthy and like the person you see in the mirror, don’t think you aren’t good enough simply because you don’t look like a cover model. And if you are going to make a change, do it for you. Not to impress another person. Not to feel like you’ll be more accepted. Do it to be healthy. Do it to be more confident in yourself. Do it to become stronger. Do it because you want to look a certain way. Do it for you, and do it the right way. Respect your body, and realize that health is the greatest form of beauty out there. And at the end of the day, a smoking hott body means nothing without the mental wellness to go along with it. Be yourself. Love yourself. And any person out there who you feel the need to change for isn’t really worth your time. And finally, as clichéd as it sounds, its not just what’s on the outside that counts.

pɹıǝʍ ʎɐʇs

Liz McQueeney ’15

“You’re so weird!” This is one of the biggest compliments you can receive. It means you’re fun, unique, and not afraid to be yourself.  Now that we college students are really starting to discover who we truly are, it is okay to show our hidden quirks. Let’s celebrate individuality!

Everyone is strange in his or her own way. Being weird is simply having unique qualities that you aren’t afraid to keep hidden from others.  Being weird is accepting your quirks and embracing them. Being weird is being able to laugh at yourself. Being weird is not caring what other people think. Overall, being weird is fun!

Many people view weirdness as a downfall or a turn-off. These people are just insecure.  Those who are “too cool for school” go around acting all normal, and boring, and judging those of us who are having fun acting crazy.  You have to feel badly for them.  Just think about it. Who do you think is having more fun: the twenty-year-old kid who is quoting Spongebob or the kid who is just gossiping about someone?  Who do you think is more confident: the kid wearing a goofy bathrobe during a pregame with their friends or the kid checking themself in the mirror to make sure they picked out an appropriate outfit that’ll impress the people at the bar?  Who do you think has a better sense of humor: the kid laughing at an inappropriate joke or the kid holding in the laugh to look cool and sophisticated?

Some view quirks as imperfections.  They are certainly not.  Our oddities are what make us unique.  Everyone has quirks, but only the special people in someone’s life get the privilege to see exactly what they are.  Our quirks are what people will remember about us.  Those who share a special bond with you will cherish the fact that they know something about you that most people don’t. The more quirks you have exposed to someone, the closer your relationship is.  This being said, don’t hide your weirdness. Instead, embrace and share it with those who are deserving, and you will lead a happy life full of confidence and great friends.

People are afraid to be weird. Don’t be afraid! Learn to love yourself and not care what people think about you.  If you want to watch endless videos of unusual animal friendships, make up your own words, sing random sentences, laugh uncontrollably at an inappropriate joke, make funny faces, dance like no one is looking at Hanleys, wear mismatched socks, and have fun: do it! Being yourself will only help you in the long run. You will gain true friendships with people as weird as you and you will be genuinely happy with the person you are.  As Dr. Seuss once said, “We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness and call it love, true love.”

Happy New Year!

mhagandefaultMichael Hagan ’15

Several months ago, Friarside Chats celebrated the first anniversary of its launch in October of 2012. Today, on behalf of our whole team, I am pleased to bid you a very happy New Year! The New Year’s holiday provides us with an opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come and what lies ahead as we press on in our second year as a media presence at Providence College

The early days of 2013 were still uncertain ones for our blog. We were four writers who knew this community had much more to discuss than what was being addressed in administratively sanctioned outlets. In the twilight of 2012, we dove into the election in which many of us students would cast our first ballots. We shed light on systematic problems in the way PC interacts with the Smith Hill community. We discussed the ethos of Providence College’s institutional advancement and philanthropic appeals. Our readership exceeded our earliest expectations. There was buzz, but would it last?

We hit the kinds of obstacles that every student group encounters. We struggled to publish consistently in the face of papers, projects, and exams. We hit others unique to our kind of organization. We had no funding, no advertising budget, nor any of the advantages that come with administrative sanction. In a recent conversation with another Friarside writer, I remembered just how uncertain the viability of our blog once was. But that has changed.

Today I would like to recognize the people who have been most integral to the success and vitality of Friarside Chats: my fellow writers. When this blog was no more than a brainchild in 2012, I envisioned a site which would bring together some of our campus’ most energetic and dedicated activists to write about the matters that inspire their leadership. Our team of regular contributors and many guest writers together have been no less than this dream come true. It is their energy, willingness to learn, and abiding will to be constructive members of the campus community they love that has grown this simple vision into a steadfast media fixture at Providence College.

One thing wonderful about our team is that we are not perfect, and we do not pretend to be. We do not write as academics or, hell, even journalists. We write honestly, we prioritize writing accessibly, and we write about what’s important to us. From the beginning we have had a policy of not assigning pieces to write. Every post you read is the product of its author’s own initiative. Authenticity is our policy, and each new post impresses me anew as our team lives up to it.

My role with Friarside Chats has scaled back since I went abroad this fall. The blog has mostly been administered by other writers stateside. But my absence has not detracted from the blog. On the contrary, this ongoing project only grows stronger. This is a testament to the quality of our team and the importance of this site. Thank you, Providence College for the privilege of your readership. Here’s to the Chats to be had and achievements to be made in 2014. Happy New Year to all!