Celebrating Diversity Through Cultural Competency: Miss America Comes to PC

defaultDavid Pinsonneault ‘ 14

Meet Miss America 2014.  Her name is Nina Davuluri. She came to campus this past Tuesday night to share her story and what she hopes to accomplish during her one-year tour. Nina grew up in a small, conservative town in Oklahoma.  There, she dealt with many common stereotypes about her stemming from her Indian heritage.  People around her often wondered if she had an arranged marriage lined up or if she worshiped cows. At a very young age, she was confronted by labels that were often not malicious but simply ignorant of her culture.  She eventually moved to Michigan and began to compete in pageants.

Miss America is a non-profit organization that has four pillars: style, service, scholarship and success.  Nina sees her service, as a business woman, to be one of the most important pillars.  The Miss America Organization has also given out over forty-five million dollars in scholarship money, ninety-two thousand of which has gone to Nina.  When it came time for college, Nina took a break from competition and studied at Michigan State before transferring to the University of Michigan after one year.  While at the University of Michigan, she was exposed to an Indian community that she identified with for the first time. She immersed herself in “Brown Town,” a group a students who shared similar struggles in everyday life.  Nina shared a story, however, that reflected on how some of the different college organizations did not always hang out with one another.  A friend called her to ask what she was doing on a particular night and she responded that she was hanging out with “Brown Town.”  She did not invite the other student to join or ask to meet up later.  The other student confronted her about this the following day and Nina was glad she did.  It is important to be inclusive to all people.  This is what she says drove her to introduce a cultural day for student organizations where they could engage in different communities.  It was Nina’s hope to engage students through their senses.  She wanted them to see, touch, and feel as others would from different cultures.  This is something that drove her to get back into Miss America competitions after college.

In order to compete in the Miss America competition, one must first win at the local and state levels. After college Nina was living in New York and won Miss Syracuse.  She then won Miss New York before winning the title of Miss America.  The odds were not in her favor to do this, as the previous Miss America winner was also from New York. Before entering competition she had to ask herself two questions: Why do you want to win and what change can you make?  Nina honestly believed that in three to five years, Miss America would have to be someone with a diverse background in order to represent an image of what young America is today.  For this reason, she set her platform as celebrating diversity through cultural competency, something she had seemingly been working on her entire life.  Nina’s talent in the competitions was Bollywood, an Indian dance she shared from her culture.  She graduated with a B.S. in Brain, Behavior & Cognitive Science, and will now use her platform to understand patients’ background and beliefs to give them the best healthcare possible.  Nina hopes to attend medical school after her one year tour as Miss America.

Nina has faced criticisms as Miss America.  She has been called a “terrorist” and told that she “does not look American enough” for the title.  Nina, however, has taken this in stride.  She knows her job right now is to be Miss America and not Miss India.  She presents herself as an academic type, able to relate to people of all backgrounds; people should know better than to be intolerable.  The truth is that for every negative comment she hears, she receives much more encouragement and support.  She says that this reality is reflective of the demographics of America.  It is not easy to change the way people think.  Nina believes racism is taught.

Gender roles have also come up during Nina’s time as Miss America.  She has, at times, felt objectified.  She knows that when she walks into a room all eyes are on her, especially from men.  She uses this as an advantage and presents herself as an academic and uses her voice.  She has had meetings with people who are considered ‘high-up’ who have joked with her asking her if she can cook.  Nina says that you have to welcome all questions openly as a way to respond to any ignorance you may face.

This is why Nina is truly making big changes as Miss America 2014.  She has changed the idea of what beautiful is.  Miss America no longer has blond hair and blue eyes.  Nina explained that lighter skin is considered more beautiful in India, but in America tan is often seen as beautiful.  Beauty is subjective.  Anyone reading this should simply have confidence in themselves.  Have a support system around you that recognizes you for who you are on the inside and how you care for others around you.  Miss America no longer looks like Barbie. Miss America now looks like Nina Davuluri.  She succeeded despite her race and socioeconomic background, and encourages others that they can do the same no matter what career path they choose.

This is what Nina hopes to accomplish as Miss America.  She hopes to help others celebrate diversity through cultural competency and by sharing a little bit of herself with others.  She allows us to learn more about her culture, and more about the world. This is a new perspective that Miss America can bring to us in 2014.

miss america


Fast Food Strike Comes To Rhode Island

defaultDavid Pinsonneault ’14 

WARWICK, R.I. – Workers, community supporters, politicians, and religious leaders met outside at a Warwick Avenue Wendy’s at noon on December 5th.  This was done in conjunction with a nationwide effort for fast food workers to earn $15.00 an hour and the right to form unions without interference from employers.  The group gathered across the street from the Wendy’s and then walked over to deliver their message to the restaurant.  Management locked their doors and did not allow the group inside.  Further, management did not accept the strike notices delivered on behalf of the workers earlier in the day.  The action took place in front of the Wendy’s where the group outlined why they were there.  StrikePhoto1

A study conducted by the University of California at Berkely found that 52% of fast food workers rely on government assistance, compared with 25% of the workforce as a whole.  The fast food industry is worth billions of dollars annually.  Minimum wage in Rhode Island, however, stands at $7.75.  As it was chanted on Thursday, “Can’t survive on $7.75.”  Workers can be employed by a fast food employer for years and see very little pay increase.  One woman who participated in the strike had been employed by the Warwick Avenue Wendy’s for a few years and still makes less than $8.00 an hour.  In one year (working full-time), this amounts to about $15,000.  How can making this amount of money pay for rent?  How can this amount of money pay for childcare?  How can this amount of money pay for health care?  For food?  The answer: it can’t.  Workers in the StrikePhoto2fast food industry are not paid a living wage.  The CEOs and upper level management in these corporations do not have to worry about paying for rent or health care.  They maintain their comfortable lifestyles, while the day to day operations at the individual restaurants are maintained by workers who do not have wages that do them justice.  It is time for this to change; it is time for corporations to know that they cannot continue to mistreat their workers.

In a survey of 500 fast food workers, 84% reported at least one instance of wage theft, while 30% reported at least four violations.  Common sources of wage theft include unpaid work, not receiving required breaks, and delivery-related issues.  This is what workers in the fast food industry are forced to deal with, and cannot complain about because their jobs are not protected.  Many are asked to take out the garbage or count the money in the cash register before their shift starts or after it ends.  This type of behavior cannot be tolerated.  Fast food industry response has not been kind.  While there have been pay increases in specific stores (not the chains as a whole), the industry argues that they would not be able to hire as many workers at $15.00 an hour and that entry-level jobs in their companies are for workers under the age of twenty-five.  An industry making billions of dollars a year can still be profitable while providing living wages for their workers.  The average age of a fast food worker is twenty-nine.  It is a simple fact that the fast food industry does not rely heavily on teenagers.  One-fourth of fast food workers have children to support.  Fast food workers need a raise. And they need it now.StrikePhoto3

Today’s action was special because it brought together members of the community from different backgrounds: fast food workers, organizers, politicians, religious leaders, members of the community, and workers in other areas- either from other unions or people working in retail.  Their shared a common goal: solidarity.  Workers are stronger together.  One member of Local 63, a firefighters union, was there because he wants to see a stronger middle class in the United States.  This cannot happen if corporations insist on paying poverty wages to their workers.  Work opportunities are not the same for all people.  Segregation still exists.  Racism still exists.  Discrimination still exists.  Government policies were largely responsible for creating ghettos and the subsequent problems people who live in low-income communities are faced with.  This can be traced back to the Federal Housing Administration’s decision in the 1950s and 1960s to allow white people to move out of cities without allowing minorities to do the same.  A living wage for all workers is one viable solution to help address these problems.  President Obama wants to increase minimum wage to $10.00 an hour.  He recently stated, “Fast-food workers, and nurse assistants, and retail salespeople who work their tails off and are still living at or barely above poverty.”  This is the truth but it appears unlikely that the House will vote to increase minimum wage.  This is why the action occurred in Warwick and across the United States.  In part, it created a purposeful disruption in the everyday world of the fast food industry.  It brought attention to workers and their rights.  Corporations need to start listening.  Every member in society should be able to have access to affordable StrikePhoto4housing, health care, and food.  It is an individualistic approach to think that others deserve more because they had better opportunities presented to them.  This is why today’s nationwide movement was powerful.  It brought together a large community of people from different backgrounds to address inequality.  And, if this community does not have their voice heard, their chants rang loudly, “We’ll be back, we’ll be back, we’ll be back!”

No Means NO. No Assumptions, No Excuses.


Dave Pinsonneault ’14

*Trigger warning: This piece talks about sexual assault, and blames men 100% for sexual assault committed by men to women.

There is a certain silence here on campus.  It is a silence on the topic of rape and rape culture.  Silence begets tolerance. 

We all know what Providence College nightlife entails.  Every student here knows you can walk down Eaton Street on a Friday or Saturday night and find a house party.  Others might find a bar.  Both are perfectly fine, even enjoyable, to do.  But what often happens at a house party or bar?  It is dark.  There is music.  There is dancing.  Oftentimes, a man will go up to a girl, and begin dancing (disclaimer- it can be any person of any sexual orientation but I want to examine sexism evidenced by male/female interactions).  There are no questions asked.  No introductions have been made.  The guy begins to sweet talk her.  He might get her another drink or whisper something in her ear.  After some time, the man will ask the girl to come back to his room.

If a sexual encounter is to occur, there is one rule that must be followed.  Consent MUST be given before any sexual encounter, and this consent needs to be a hard yes.  A sexual act that occurs without this vocal and emphatic consent is rape. The way a woman has dressed for the evening does not count as consent.  Allowing a man to walk her home or give her a ride does not count as consent.  And going to her room with a man or going to his does not count as consent.  Assumptions should never be made about a woman’s willingness to participate in sex. Period.

Sometimes a man will try to ply a woman with a few drinks.  He might try to wear her down with repetition or persuasion.  He might shame her into submitting because he bought her something or gave her a ride or because he believes he has been led on.  Other times a man might use force.  It may be surprising for you to learn that these are all instances of rape.

It is surprising for many women to learn this as well.  A woman who engages in sexual activity after consuming a lot of alcohol, or after being worn down, or after she feels she owes it to someone, might wake up the next morning feeling ashamed or angry.  Or maybe just confused.  She is unsure what exactly happened the previous night and why.  Maybe she had too much to drink and she feels like what happened, though it makes her deeply uncomfortable and even ashamed, was partly her fault.  The fact is, however, that someone who is intoxicated is not legally considered capable of giving consent.  The woman has been taken advantage of.  But if she does not know that she has been raped, why would she report it?

From 2009 to 2011, only four rapes were reported at Providence College, including incidents on and off campus.  But these statistics belie what I see.  Women are constantly objectified and degraded at PC.  They tolerate men calling out inappropriate things to them when going out at night.  This has been normalized, to some extent, on campus.  Respect is not normalized at Providence College.

Instead, hook-up culture–scenarios like the one I describe above–is normalized.  There is very little communication between people of opposite genders at social events.  There is very little room for the vocal, emphatic YES that constitutes consent, and a whole lot of room for gray area situations to quickly blur into what is legally considered rape.

In fact, I would argue that a rape culture permeates Providence College.  Men often go to parties with the intent of objectifying women.  They want to take women home and they do not necessarily care whom. This has nothing to do with women not respecting themselves, and it has everything to do with men disrespecting women.  In theory, women can also go to these social events objectifying men, and take advantage of them in a way that can also legally be considered rape.  But the vast majority of disturbingly gray situations I have seen play out have men as the perpetrators.  I think that this has a lot to do with these attitudes many men on campus seem to hold about women, which no doubt has a lot to do with how men are told by the media that their worth is linked to their sexual prowess.

There are competing views on how to teach sexual education.  In the Catholic Church, there is no sex until marriage.  We go to a Catholic school, and because of this there is no outlet (on campus) to learn about safe sex and about contraceptives.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, the state will teach on and provide funding for safe sex.  What is missing from both approaches?  Nobody teaches consensual sex.  This is what is missing in the conversation on sexual relations.  There is a perception that consent means a violent no, rather than the opening dialogue to discuss this topic.  This needs to be taught.  It is something that can be utilized by both men and women.  Consensual sex is something that needs to be taught and taken seriously.  If there is no consent, there is no sex.  This is something that is not quite understood on campus. As such, I understand that it can seem like there are many mixed messages surrounding sex.  But it is not really an excuse.  If no one is going to teach us how to give consent, we have to take it upon ourselves to learn.

The recent article in the Cowl discussing self-respect and the way women dress pushed me to write this response.  Let’s be clear: nothing a woman does should convince men that she does not respect herself and should be treated worse because of it.  Respect does not have to be earned, it should already be there.

Systematic Injustice and the Myth of Post-Racial America

defaultDavid Pinsonneault & Sophie Carroll

We’ve heard the story countless times.  Shortly after 7:00 pm on February 26th, 2012, Trayvon Martin was walking through the Twin Lakes gated community when he was spotted by George Zimmerman.  There had been crimes reported in the area and Zimmerman, a member of the Neighborhood Watch, placed a phone call to the local dispatch informing them of a “real suspicious guy” who was “up to no good.”  As Zimmerman began tailing Martin, dispatch provided him with some very clear instructions:

Dispatch: Are you following him?

Zimmerman: Yeah.

Dispatch: Okay, we don’t need you to do that.

Zimmerman did not listen.  Instead, he pursued Trayvon Martin, ultimately shooting and killing the innocent, unarmed teenager at point-blank range.  His acquittal has sparked outrage across the country–and given a face to dynamics at work in both the legal system and society.

Stand Your Ground

The jury’s ruling is rooted in a law known as “Stand Your Ground.”  Because of this law, the jury found Zimmerman guilty of neither murder nor manslaughter, meaning that they considered his lethal, point-blank shooting of Trayvon Martin to be excusable and/or justified.

“Stand your Ground” originates from the 1895 case Beard v. U.S., in which the Supreme Court ruled that a man is entitled to defend himself against an individual who he believes is intending upon or in the process of taking his life or doing him bodily harm.  As you might imagine, the law is primarily applied to situations of home invasion.

In stark contrast to such a situation, George Zimmerman deliberately, and against the express orders of a police dispatch,  followed Trayvon Martin.  George Zimmerman was armed, while Trayvon Martin was not–and while Zimmerman is permitted to carry a gun in Florida, he was not permitted to be an armed member of the Neighborhood Watch.  So we must ask if the “Stand Your Ground” law can truly be applied to this case, even if Trayvon Martin had been armed or if he had been a criminal.  Zimmerman’s decision to act of his own accord, against the explicit instructions of the police dispatch, and follow Trayvon Martin makes the legal status of Zimmerman’s actions murky at best.  This is because Zimmerman sought out an altercation with Trayvon Martin, thus clouding his claim of self-defense.  Zimmerman’s actions qualify as armed vigilantism, which is strictly prohibited by law. Again, we must ask if the law truly excuses Trayvon’s shooting.

If Trayvon’s shooting is not excusable, is it then justified?  Once again, we turn to the law.   During the trial, the fact that Trayvon Martin ran was used as one reason that Zimmerman’s actions were justified.  But given the circumstances that he was being deliberately followed by an unknown and possibly threatening person, it is Trayvon’s actions that seem justified.  It was also recounted in the trial that Martin punched Zimmerman, and this “fact” (since we cannot have Martin’s testimony) was used to justify Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon.  But if the “Stand Your Ground” law is not intended to condone racial targeting, then in principle it applies to Trayvon Martin as well–meaning that, if Martin had felt threatened by a strange, armed man following him (and it’s really not a great stretch to imagine that he did) then Martin had the legal right, under the “Stand Your Ground” law, to defend himself.  This law, therefore, ought to justify Martin’s actions, not Zimmerman’s.

Instead, the jury’s ruling tells us that if Zimmerman was afraid of Martin, he was excused from disobeying direct orders and he was justified to follow him.  He was justified to confront Martin until he felt threatened enough to shoot him.  His fear of this unarmed teenager gave him the right to put a bullet in him. Likewise, the ruling tells us that, in direct contradiction to Florida law, Trayvon Martin did not have the right to defend himself even though he had far greater reason to fear than George Zimmerman. This is what the jury’s ruling means and this is why we should be critical of it.  In essence, the court has ruled that Trayvon Martin justified both his own execution and Zimmerman’s fear and suspicion…by standing his ground?  By walking down the street in a hooded sweatshirt?  Why does it seem as if Trayvon Martin was on trial for his own death.


Many cite George Zimmerman’s identity as Hispanic as proof that race played neither into Zimmerman’s actions nor the jury’s verdict.  After all, Hispanics are also marginalized in the society in which we live.  But what about Trayvon Martin’s identity? From the moment that George Zimmerman saw the young black man, Zimmerman profiled Martin as a suspicious person, probably “on drugs”–someone who did not belong, not in Zimmerman’s neighborhood, a gated community, a predominantly white place.  George Zimmerman and the jurors probably both did believe that Zimmerman’s life was in danger.  But why was Zimmerman so afraid of Trayvon Martin?  Why did the jurists identify so strongly with this fear so as to rule that Zimmerman’s shooting of an unarmed, innocent minor was excusable and/or justified?

The answer is race. Slavery built this country, and other forms of racialized exploitation and commodification continue to benefit it.  In order to maintain these benefits, the United States is built in a racial hierarchy, a sort of “trickle-down” freedom in which white people stand at the top, controlling most of the resources.  The benefits of being white in this country span from the obvious (higher incomes) to the more subtle (for example, a 2004 American Economic Review study found that employers are more likely to hire people with ‘white-sounding’ names than ‘black-sounding’ names).  A key role of the racial hierarchy is portraying minority races in a comparatively negative light, resulting in effects spanning a continuum from ‘harmless’ stereotypes (for example, a recent Harvard anthropology study found that white people are more likely to believe that black people feel less pain) to racialized violence.

I honestly believe that if it had been a white teenager walking home from a convenience store in Trayvon’s place that night, Zimmerman would not have followed him. Even minorities are not impervious to the pressure the racial hierarchy exerts to identify the “other” and put blame on them.  A culture that paints young black men as violent thugs and encourages racial profiling made Zimmerman believe that Trayvon Martin was armed, dangerous, and criminal.  And even though it was Zimmerman’s belief, and not Martin’s actions, that killed Trayvon Martin, a jury of white women sympathized with Zimmerman’s fear of the potentially armed and dangerous black man, rather than with Martin’s family seeking justice for their dead son.

The System Works 

Injustice threatens everyone’s peace.  Zimmerman’s acquittal does not set a dangerous precedent; it upholds the dangerous precedent.  The Martin case is simply a higher-profile version of events that unfold among us all the time.  Another case gaining attention in Florida is the shooting of seventeen-year-old Jordan Davis; he was murdered by a white man who first saw a car full of black kids and told his spouse he hated thug music.  The man exchanged words with the car and then felt threatened enough that he fired his gun at the car.  The list goes on. Trayvon Martin’s death and Zimmerman’s acquittal are not exceptions to prove some ‘rule’ that we live in a post-racial society. The system did not fail in this instance; rather, it functioned the way it always has, in a society in which race is still very much an issue.  Even President Obama, upon speaking on how much race placed a role in this case, is scorned for “politicizing” it–but as a white man I am unlikely to be accused of ‘playing the race card’ for writing this article.  Because I am white and President Obama is not, I am freer than the President where race is concerned.

The conversation about race is happening.  If white people want to be a part of it, they must begin listening; to be neutral on this issue is to continue benefiting from it. I can walk down the street in a hoodie and not feel threatened; if something happened to me, my family would receive justice. These are basic rights.  We must hold the system accountable for denying these rights to countless people, including Trayvon Martin.

Take Action: 

If you stand with Trayvon Martin, and believe his right to life was violated, sign this petition to urge the U.S. Justice Department to file a civil case against George Zimmerman.

Taking the Lead: Making Justice and Diversity Student Priorities at PC

Guest Chat

David Pinsonneault ’14

As the end of the academic year approaches, I think it is appropriate to examine the events that have occurred throughout our spring semester at Providence College and ask what we can do to seek change as a community.  Diversity has become a prominent issue that has brought with it several different viewpoints.  One of Providence College’s five core values is diversity.  For Providence College to fully embrace diversity, they must try to attain three main points.  Our school hopes to create:

  • A campus community that mirrors the catholicity of the Church in all of its diversity, and that is inclusive and welcoming of all;
  • A culture in which diversity is considered in every aspect of campus life and is a factor in, and component of, institutional decision-making;
  • A campus climate that inspires respect and that provides support for the academic, social, and personal development of diverse students, faculty, and staff. (Providence College Strategic Plan, p.8)

These appear to be manageable criteria to strive for as a college.  In early February, a Cowl writer sparked controversy on campus.  An opinion piece was written condemning the school’s diversity initiatives.  The article isolated minority students on campus, including those who receive scholarships.  A response to the article was written right away on Friarside Chats presenting a more historical and cultural view on diversity and why it is important for an institution, such as Providence College.  Tim Wise, a prominent speaker on diversity, then came to campus shortly after both articles were written.  His presentation concluded with an open diversity forum where students discussed their views with one another.  This was encouraging but this was not the only problem on our campus pertaining to diversity.

Another issue relating to diversity that has been prevalent on campus is racial profiling.  Minority students have been subject to racial profiling on campus.  Many minority students have been stopped and asked by security to show them their school ID’s.  This does not happen to white students.  Further, a Political Science faculty member, Dr. Jordan-Zachary, has been the target of racial discrimination.  Dr. Jordan-Zachary has been profiled by campus security when trying to park on campus, despite her prominently displayed faculty parking pass on her front windshield.  Earlier this semester, Dr. Jordan-Zachary created a social justice scholarship in honor of Trayvon Martin, a seventeen year old (and unarmed) Florida teenager who was slain by a neighborhood watchman.  She received several complaints to the creation of this award.  In particular, she received emails that called her a “racist pig.”  The same email also said, “White people should be given an award for killing black people” and “black people should be given an award for killing Mexican and Asians.”  As a response to the hostile climate minority students and faculty member’s face on campus, a Coalition Against Racism was formed.  This past Wednesday, the Coalition put on a peaceful demonstration on Slavin Lawn and held a press conference afterwards to bring these issues to light.  Providence College responded by emailing its students Wednesday night and inviting them to attend a dinner with Fr. Shanley on Friday night to discuss diversity.  The dinner left me feeling that change will not come soon enough.  Providence College is content to wait until issues of diversity become so pressing that they are forced to take action.  It is important to understand what we can do as students to begin to break down the hostile climate for minority students at Providence College.

When I use the term “we”, I am speaking for a group of people who acknowledge their own white privilege.  White privilege exists.  It exists.  It exists.  It exists.  Being white in the United States means never having to think about it.  We are never asked what we like about being white.  We do not have to acknowledge the advantages we receive in being white.  We do not attribute our success to being white.  The common critique to white privilege is when you hear someone say, “But I worked hard for what I have.”  Yes, yes you did.  You can tell me all about your difficulties growing up.  You can tell me about all of the obstacles you have overcome.  I have nothing but respect for the hard work and determination for an individual such as this.  They, however difficult their situation may be, simply are not affected by their race in the same way minorities are.  In an article titled White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, by Peggy McIntosh, she presents a series of statements that show the effects of white privilege.  Some of my personal favorites are:

  • 4. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
  • 5. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
  • 14. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
  • 15. I am never asked to speak for all people of my racial group. (McIntosh, p.122-123)

These are just some of the author’s ways to show her readers that white privilege exists.  For the white audience reading this, you will be able to confirm these points.  Minorities, however, cannot say the same.  Providence College does not have an environment that treats all people the same.  What can we do to change this?  Changing the attitudes of students, faculty, and administrators at Providence College will take time.  My suggestion to students is to be an ally for minority students on campus.  I went to the rally this past Wednesday and there were a good number of white students there, but still not enough.  Many white students vacated Slavin lawns, made jokes, or took videos of what was going on.  A more proper course of action could have been to listen and learn.  Many students who may have been scared to attend this event but support the cause did not go.  It is time to stop living in fear and caring what people will think if you tell them you are going to a rally on racism.  By overcoming this step, we become closer to reaching real change.  It helps to create power by visible numbers.  It is important for Providence College students to begin to challenge the rules of white supremacy.  When you are in DWC and your professor asks a minority student to speak for their entire race, call them out on it!  It is not the time to be patient and wait for change.  It is time to be more active and less defensive.  Why is it that every time white privilege comes up in conversation with a white person they immediately become defensive?  We learn many excuses and justifications for racism in society.  We avoid taking responsibility for the wrongs of our past.  We avoid talking about things that make us feel uncomfortable that force us to own up to our white privilege.  No one person, or group of people, should have to earn justice.  This, however, is something being fought on our campus.

We have to fight this problem by attacking the problem head on (a phrase used by the administration throughout the dinner with Fr. Shanley).  This means we need to take action.  The Coalition Against Racism has asked administration to do four things: train campus security in racial awareness, send an email to the entire campus condemning the harassment of the faculty member, create a for-credit class on race relations and implement a policy prohibiting racial profiling by campus security.  Providence College has agreed to the first point but has not responded to the other three.  Fr. Shanley said at dinner on Friday that he should have emailed the campus at several different points during this past semester.  I do not think it is too late to do this.  When issues come up where a student or faculty member has been discriminated against, Fr. Shanley should email the campus and tell us that Providence College does not tolerate discrimination and then detail the steps that will be taken.  Instead, he has chosen to remain silent on these issues.  This is why it is time for students at Providence College to leave their comfort zones.  It is time to start talking about white privilege and how this applies to us as students.  It is time to challenge the system and ask Providence College to live up to its mission statement and be accepting of all people.  To do this, the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” also need to be added to the College’s non-discriminatory policy.  Diversity goes beyond race, but also into socioeconomic background and sexual orientation, among other areas.  This addition to the non-discrimination policy would not compromise our Catholic identity.  It does not mean the school is reforming marriage in the Church.  This is a change that should have been made years ago, but is something being discussed now.  Administrators are debating whether to continue to discriminate or not.  It amazes me that people in power believe they have the right to decide when discrimination has gone on long enough or when it is time to admit they are at fault.  This change should be made swiftly and politics should be left aside.  The addition of these words will help to make Providence College a more inclusive and diverse institution.

While we await policy and wait to what our fall semester holds, it is important that we begin to unite as a student body.  We need students to align with one another.  It is important that all students interact with one another and help make Providence College feel like it is not segregated.  Listen and watch for issues that deal with racism.  Challenge white supremacy and acknowledge white privilege.  If the administration does not take appropriate action to the many issues that have accumulated on the topic of diversity this semester, be ready to advocate for change.  It is not time to remain silent as an institution.  Students will continue to demonstrate and protest until we start seeing changes in attitude, policy, and in practice on campus.  Do not forget over our summer vacation what has gone on this past semester.  Hold onto those feelings and carry them with you into the fall semester.  Even if the administration does not see what it needs to change, a united student body can help point them in the right direction come fall.  If Providence College remains silent and continues to allow for improper treatment of its students and faculty, I will be ready to protest in the fall!

David is a rising Senior at PC, and is a double major in Political Science and Public Service. He is a competitive distance runner who qualified and finished this year’s Boston Marathon in under 3 hours.