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.

Attention Seniors: Stop Freaking Out!

Guest Chat – Submitted 12/15/14

Dan Hogan ’13

It’s that time of the year again at Providence College where stockings hang over the fireplace in Slavin, a tree sits in the middle of the Great Hall in Ruane, Ray has holiday decorations making it seem a little less dismal, and the student body is freaking out about finals. As I’m standing in line at Dunkin waiting to get my first coffee for the day this reality is all too clear. It becomes even clearer as I overhear two seniors discussing their plans for the future, essentially freaking out waiting for Armageddon, aka Graduation Day. Yes, it’s the time for people to freak out about being one semester closer to graduation and for the senior class this is all too real. Seniors have one more semester left until they leave the PC bubble and enter into the real world. They have one more semester to “live it up” before total responsibility hits them in the face. They have one more semester to be able to go out on a weeknight and be able to still function the next day. They have one more semester to see and live with their best friends every day. In essence, they have one more semester until life ends, as they know it!

Well 2015, I have a message for you, STOP FREAKING OUT!!!!! Yes, it’s true come May you’re lives, as you know it are going to change. The people you met at Freshmen Orientation or walking around your floor are not going to be the next room over or two houses down. You won’t be able to put off a paper until the last minute and be able to easily get an A-. You won’t be able to go out four nights a week and still be able to function the next day. However, this does not mean life ends. In fact, it is only the beginning. Yes, I know it is a scary time for most of you not knowing what you are going to do after receiving your diploma while many of your friends may have jobs or internships already lined up. Yes, I know it is daunting for those of you who do have a job who may have to move to a place where you do not know anyone else. Yes, I know you do not want to leave your roommates or friends and want to spend as much time with them as possible. However, it is okay.

As Bob Marley once said, “Don’t worry about a thing,’Cause every little thing gonna be alright.” He speaks the truth. Throughout your first year out in the “real world”, you will experience many different emotions. You will be excited to be making money. You will be sad come September when you see people heading back to PC for another semester. You will be frustrated with your job or living with my parents and still be asking the question “What am I doing with my life?” You will step onto campus for Fake Alumni and Alumni Weekends wishing you could stay and wanting to tell the freshmen to go back to high school.

Your first year out of school will be one of the biggest learning experiences in your life and you will grow more in this year than any of your four years in Friartown. You will meet new people and keep in touch with the friends you want to keep in touch with. You will start thinking about going back to grad school to pursue a new career path or new opportunities within your company. You will want to travel and see new places you have never seen before because your responsibilities are still minimal. You can still go out and have a good time, but you won’t feel like going to a place with loud music, tons of people, where you drink out of a plastic cup every weekend.

So if you are freaking out about your life after college, relax. You have your entire life to ask, “What do I want to do?” Enjoy the present and have fun. Don’t stress too much. God Bless and Go Friars!

The Communication Challenge

Guest Chat by Maria Costa, PC ’16.

It’s Friday (thank God). Finally done with class for the day, I’m sitting in front of my computer. My thumbs skate across the glassy 4 ½ inch screen of my phone as I take breaks in between my rounds of Candy Crush to text my friends from home and check what’s going on in the Twittersphere. I have about 5 windows open all at once on the computer screen, listening to Spotify, occasionally glancing at Facebook and doing some online shopping, texting my PC friends through iMessage to make plans for the night, and keeping a blank Word document up just so I can reassure myself that I thought about getting a head-start on homework for the weekend. As I’m flipping back and forth between each of my little windows, it strikes me. This is kind of excessive, isn’t it? Naaah. It’s Friday, I deserve a break, and this is fun. But it’s not just Friday. It’s every day. I constantly have my phone on me, and I can never stop checking it. I need to know if I have any new emails, new texts, new tweets, or likes on Facebook or Instagram. My phone is always safe and snug in a pocket where I can feel it vibrate to tell me someone is trying to talk to me or is affirming my words or photos. It’s become a habit, a bad one, and it interrupts daily interactions. I’ve realized that it is excessive – perhaps it’s just me, but I sense that this is a fairly common scenario, and it’s time for us to take on a new challenge.

Our heads are down.

Walking across campus, before classes, in dining halls, and even in small social gatherings with friends, our heads are constantly bowed, as if in reverence, but instead, in a relentless trance of technology. Our ears are always perked for the sound of our phones buzzing, offering some new slice of information. No one can wait; there is always a sense of urgency to whatever lies in the colorful world behind the glass (or plastic) screen, and no one can stop checking again and again what you could be missing out on if you ignore the incessant updates. We cannot help ourselves. Every text, tweet, Facebook post, and like on Instagram is essential. The virtual universe offers us an escape from the demands of our lives and a window into the lives and thoughts of others.

We are a generation of extreme multi-taskers; we are alerted by every slight illumination of our smartphones, and of course, would not dream of depriving them of attention. Our attentiveness to any task is always shared with our focus on the wired world, so that our homework and readings are supplied with all-too-easy reasons to procrastinate, and texting one person while talking to another characterizes many of our conversations. This techno-savvy world demands us to keep up with each small detail that occurs throughout the day; otherwise we will be left in a dark, unknowing state. So this is why we sit across the table from family members and friends with our hands gripped tightly around the slender bodies of our smartphones, half tuned out from what they are saying – because society dictates that face-to-face communication is an unnecessary waste of time. But our personal electronic interactions are unnatural for our social need for human contact. If we keep looking down at our phones and ignore the world, not only will we continue to walk into those weird, hip-height poles that are in the middle of sidewalks all over campus, but we will condemn ourselves to walk down a path of human isolation.

True effective communication involves talking to someone face to face. While texting someone, reading their tweets, looking at their pictures on Facebook and Instagrams, and even just talking on the phone is fun, convenient, and easy, none of these methods of communication allow you to see their face and their body language, and therefore get a true sense of how the person you’re talking to is feeling or reacting. As we rely on virtual communication and favor it over more personal interactions, we have begun to lose our social skills and our appreciation for taking the time to communicate – to just chat for no reason, share funny stories without a 140-character limit, and appreciate a beautiful sunset without looking at it through a filtered lens.

The technological revolution has presented us with countless benefits that make life easier to capture memorable moments, connect with old friends and acquaintances, and communicate with others in quick, easy ways. We have fully embraced the advances that technology has offered us, and they absolutely are a tremendous aid in our fast-paced, stressful society of appointments and deadlines. However, the problem arises when we begin to take advantage of the comfort of technology and take its simplicity to an extreme. We look down at our phones to in fact avoid eye contact and interaction with others, we play silly app games just to waste time when we could be spending it more meaningfully otherwise, and lose the appreciation and happiness found in moments surrounded by the beauty of nature or the warmth of loved ones. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is essential to have down time to just relax, I know how easy it is to get wrapped up in finding solace in the humor of my Twitter timeline, getting lost in the artsy photos and “tbt”s of Instagram, and “trying just one more time” on Flappy Bird. It’s addictive.

This is the problem. The constant checking of our texts and social media have become our habits, our phones an extension of ourselves. It is much too easy to fall into the habit of picking up our phones the second that we have nothing to do in order to check our news feeds and notifications and block out the stresses and tasks of the day. But when we do this, there is an abundance of real life and experiences that we are missing out on.  The virtual world can wait – it’s not going anywhere.

So the challenge is to put down the phone. Turn it off. Put it in your backpack, your purse, or somewhere it won’t bother you. Use this as a potential Lenten sacrifice. Test yourself and reward yourself, for every half hour to fifteen minutes you spend on your phone looking at social media or just texting, make sure you spend an equal amount of time calling someone and having a real conversation, reading something that isn’t for school, or meeting friends for a quick lunch or coffee. Or if you’re a Twitter addict, discipline yourself so that after you’ve written 3 tweets in a day, you have to stay off of twitter for (at least) the next 3 hours. Challenge yourself to always keep your phone off the table at meals, and hold a real conversation with the people you’re sitting across from, one where you respect the people you’re with by paying attention to them instead of what’s happening on your phone. I know it might be tough, it is a true challenge to leave that virtual universe behind – especially when you are already in the habit of keeping it as a daily part of your life. But I challenge you to try it. Get together with your friends instead of just talking on a group text. Read a book or a newspaper instead of your Twitter feed. Sit and look at the snow falling or the beautiful colors of the sky and write about it or just simply appreciate it instead of Intagramming it. Take pictures for the memories instead of for your profile picture on Facebook. Enjoy what life has to offer, because each moment is fleeting and precious, but the internet is forever.

In Defense of Good Science

Megan Grammatico ’15

I have to preface this: the whole making waves and writing blog posts thing? Not me. I’ve always been a keep-your-opinion-to-yourself kind of girl, and I’m usually of the mind that there are plenty of people out there that know a lot more than me. But yesterday I checked my email, and I was horrified. Horrified enough to need to say something, and not just by texting my dad to vent. So here goes: 

By now, you’ve heard. PC is once again buzzing about a speaker invited to campus by the philosophy department—talking about what else? Homosexuality, of course. This speaker is Dr. Michelle Cretella, M.D.  Her talk has been billed as being “attentive to science and to faith,” but a quick googling of her name and credentials reveals a pretty big problem with the “science” part. I am not going to go into the academic freedom thing. I am also going to stay away from the fundamental lack of regard this shows for PC’s LGBTQ population, since others have already done that far more succinctly and eloquently that I could. But there is another angle here, and it is one worth considering.

Dr. Cretella is a board-certified pediatrician, as well as the vice president of the American College of Pediatricians. The American College of Pediatricians is a socially conservative organization that formed in 2002 as part of a protest regarding the American Academy of Pediatrics support of adoption by gay and lesbian couples. Among other things, it advocates support for selective parental use of corporal punishment in child discipline, support for abstinence-based sex education, and discouraging the adoption of children by same-sex couples or single parents. Many of the views it holds are in direct contradiction with the recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which is

a professional membership organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical sub-specialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety, and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults”.

For comparison purposes, the American College of Pediatricians does not disclose its membership statistics (trust me, I looked everywhere) but Wikipedia estimates its membership to be between 60 and 200 members. So herein lies the first problem. Dr. Cretella is already biased. She is the vice president of an organization that was formed originally to oppose adoption by gay and lesbian couples, and relies on bad science to do so. See the heavily criticized research of Mark Regnerus here.

I might be going out on a limb, but it seems to me that an organization founded to protest a sociopolitical issue cannot be very scientifically objective.

Dr. Cretella’s talk poster also advertises her position on the Board of Directors of that National Association for Research of Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). NARTH’s stated mission is to provide service to those with “unwanted same-sex attraction”—a fancy way of saying that they support “conversion therapy,” a practice that has been denounced by the American Psychiatric Association as most certainly not beneficial and quite possibly harmful. The APA says this:

Psychotherapeutic modalities to convert or ‘repair’ homosexuality are based on developmental theories whose scientific validity is questionable. Furthermore, anecdotal reports of “cures” are counterbalanced by anecdotal claims of psychological harm. In the last four decades, “reparative” therapists have not produced any rigorous scientific research to substantiate their claims of cure. Until there is such research available, [the American Psychiatric Association] recommends that ethical practitioners refrain from attempts to change individuals’ sexual orientation, keeping in mind the medical dictum to first, do no harm.”

So let’s get this straight. The philosophy department invited a speaker who belongs to two organizations that expressly contradict the viewpoints of major, established, well-respected groups (the APA and the AAP). Furthermore, the groups that Dr. Cretella belongs to rely on misuse and misrepresentation of the work that other scientists have done. At Providence College, we have a name for misusing or misrepresenting the work of another author: we call that plagiarism.  For example, in 2010, the work of Dr. Gary Remafedi, a pediatrician at the University of Minnesota, was used by the organization in a pamphlet mailed out to superintendents across the country to advocate not supporting gay and lesbian students that come out in high school. This was most certainly not what the body of Remafedi’s research as a whole was saying. In fact, Dr. Remafedi wrote a letter to the American College of Pediatricians that reads in part:

“Dear colleagues,

I am deeply concerned about misstatements attributed to our research on the “Facts about Youth” website of the American College of Pediatricians ( [accessed on April 12, 2010]), as they appear in the “Letter to School Officials” and “What You Should Know as a School Official.”

The first reference to our research in these documents deceptively states: “Rigorous studies demonstrate that most adolescents who initially experience same-sex attraction, or are sexually confused, no longer experience such attractions by age 25. In one study, as many as 26% of 12-year-olds reported being uncertain of their sexual orientation1…”

Although the finding (“26% of 12-year-olds…”) is accurately reported, the sentence preceding it invites misinterpretation. Our original interpretation, as presented in the discussion section of the paper, is: “Taken together, these data suggest that uncertainty about sexual orientation and perceptions of bisexuality gradually give way to heterosexual or homosexual identification with passage of time and/or with increasing sexual experience.” 

The letter goes on to ask that all reference to his work be removed from the website, a request with which the American College of Pediatricians did not comply. On top of totally misrepresenting his work by taking several statements completely out of context, in all the citations of Remafedi’s work by the American College of Pediatricians, his name was spelled wrong. That makes me doubtful those at the American College of Pediatricians even read Remafedi’s work in its totality; it certainly does not increase my confidence in the scientific accuracy of what ACP claims.

I came to Providence College to get an education. I have spent the last almost-three years studying biology and neuroscience at PC, and I have been lucky to have incredible professors. But my professors are not just good teachers—they are excellent scientists. And through my biology, chemistry, physics, and psychology classes and lab work, I have learned a lot about the way good science is done. It relies on a special methodology, a certain “way of knowing” that insists that hypotheses must be made, tested, challenged, supported, challenged again, tested again, and only “accepted” until evidence to the contrary presents itself. So, if Dr. Cretella is going to bill her talk as being “attentive to science,” I would hope that she was going to discuss the myriad of studies done by the APA, the AAP, the American Sociological Association (ASA) and other reputable pediatric scientists—but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case at all. And that’s a problem. It’s a problem for the reputation of the school, particularly in a year when negative publicity by the New York Times was discussed ad nauseum. In a very short time, myself and many other science students will apply to graduate school or medical school. When institutions we apply to see the name of our school, we need it to be synonymous with the well-respected, Catholic institution that provided an excellent education in both liberal arts and biology that it is. We just don’t need any media claims that Providence College cannot distinguish between science and pseudoscience—it does the reputation of our students, faculty, and institution great harm.

Let’s be clear: I have absolutely no problem with Dr. Cretella coming to talk about her moral, religious, and philosophical convictions regarding homosexuality. In keeping with academic freedom and my belief that good people, people of faith, can respectfully disagree about this while still upholding human dignity, she absolutely should come to campus and present her viewpoint—no respondent necessary. My issue lies solely with the way the talk has been advertised. It is not going to be “attentive to science” because the positions of the organizations Dr. Cretella is a part of are not attentive to science.

If she is going to put the fancy letters after her name, and call herself a doctor and scientist, she should probably keep in mind the first and most important part of the Hippocratic Oath: “First, do no harm.” Inviting a speaker to campus, and advertising her as a scientist, while she advocates for the “curing” of homosexuality, does great harm. I trust my doctor. I do not thoroughly vet every piece of advice that she gives me with my own research, because I truly believe she will live up to the highest standards of her profession, and give me only the most up to date, well-researched, evidence-based advice that she can. I do not think this is uncommon among most patients, and I shudder to think of the harm that might be caused if her position is taken as medically sound by LGBT students (because, well, she’s a DOCTOR). Furthermore, though I in no way downplay the message this sends to the LGBTQ students and faculty at PC, this false advertising is harmful to the college as whole. And you know what? That’s worth a totally-out-of-character, opinionated blog post about. 

CITATIONS: (Because good authors, like good scientists, cite their work)

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.”

Biting the Apple: The Rubber-Neck Effect

Amanda Talbot ’15

Connecticut State’s Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky III stands in my kitchen. He’s got a bright yellow sweatshirt on and he’s stamping his feet and rubbing his hands from the cold. He came in through the side door, walking through my garage and walking past the washing machine and my family’s pile of boots and sneakers still dripping with snow. He did so because he found a funny article in the paper about pit-bulls and thought my family might like it since we have one. Connecticut State’s Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky III is my neighbor and just a normal looking guy. I like seeing him this way, since media likes to paint him up and down with colors of both honor and a healthy dose of infamy. He’s the man with a tight grip on the first amendment and the safety of the children and families of Newtown. Over the last several months Sedensky fought to keep the explicit details of the tragedy including 911 phone calls, texts, time-tables and photographs out of the hands of the media and from they eyes of the town’s youth. Pushing but ultimately losing the case of child endangerment upon its release, it is easy to be upset with the man who refuses to give up information.

Yes, it is extremely important that we learn from our tragedies, we examine our loops holes and we understand the errors our past, and yes, these reports do provide the kind of evidence that can be used in the future to bolster arguments, fluff the regulation of gun sales, school safety and research into special needs. Yes, I see and agree that there are surmounting issues that come with the territory of the growing knowledge of the case, but I cannot help but take the arm of my neighbor on this one. As I watch news source after news source update their social media pages about the oncoming full report about the shooting which will be provided on Connecticut’s state website at 3 pm on Friday, December 27th I feel an incredible unease settle on me.

Upon the first release of the initial report of the shooting on November 25th 2013 the media rushed to involve itself once more into the nightmare this town had to live through. Divulging in pictures and graphic details, news sources gallantly flaunted the cold facts- the psychotic knacks of the shooter, his video games, his computer files, his old elementary school writings, and every last gun in his home. The pictures of destroyed windows are chilling at best and the time-tables are difficult for me to read. What kind of apple are we biting into here?

I understand that we all at some point have a particular macabre scratch we’d like to reach for. We all have sat and watched a few moments on a Columbine special on television, read about a car wreck, stopped to skim the article about the drowning in the quarry. It is human nature to seek out information, it is human nature to be interested, but as I flick through my favorite time-burning websites and stumble onto their own articles about the “20 most creepy things about the Newtown shooting” right next to “The top 13 things curly haired people are tired of hearing” I get upset.

My town is not a freak show. This shooting is not an attraction. That man was not a villain whose effigy you still need to burn.

There is an extreme and explicit difference between using police reports to help the country in ensuring that these kinds of tragedies cannot happen again and using the evidence to exploit the victims and even the villain.

I read the “article” in horror as the authors pulled out the juicy bits of the murder of 26 people from my town and gave online spectators the ability to comment on the out-of-context bullet points. And what can I say? Of course, there will always be people who will snoop out a story or search for it with the same morbid curiosity that can settle on us, but as I read comments from men and woman assuring readers that the whole event was a sham it really hit me. We were being trivialized. These days everyone is waiting for the next big thing. Tragedies wash up on shore everyday, and just as the water rolls out, so do they. We forget what frightens us, we forget what scares us. I am by no means saying that we regard some tragedies and not others, what I am saying is that we must respect them for what they are: a horror for some people whose lives are actually altered. It is wonderful to be supportive of those in need. It is not wonderful to forget about us or make us a spectacle. Highlighting the madness that was the shooter in list format does the victims no justice. It is only a sore, sick reminder of something we didn’t see coming. And while those unaffected may look to the right side of their screen and follow the link to the top 25 greatest moments of the VMAs, those affected by the tragedy may sit in embarrassment as the worst day of their lives is broadcasted in a harsh, unbridled way.

We will always have tragedy- some will stay with us more than others. I expect no one to keep track of every sad moment on the world’s history- I am asking however to practice love in a pure sense. Because when Mr. Sedensky comes to my house it is not to lament or whine or lash out about what details he knows of the case. He stops by to show love to his neighbors, even if it is just a newspaper clipping of a silly story. That is healing and that is strength.

In short, please, do not trivialize tragedy. Save the shock and awe for a Miley Cyrus video- not on my town’s history. When the full report comes out please reserve your right to take a big juicy bite.

Amanda is a Junior management major and a theatre minor. She is a proud resident of Newtown, Connecticut. 

Just Do It: Just Say No To Nike

Liz McQueeney ’15

Look down at what you are wearing right now. I can probably tell you one thing about most of the items of clothing you have on: they were made in a sweatshop.  People died making that shirt or pair of pants or pair of sneakers. This is a sad reality.

People are dying by working in sweatshops.  Sweatshops are factories that have terrible working conditions, abuse their workers, break child labor laws, and don’t pay their employees a living wage. People are forced to work in sweatshops in order to survive because it is the only work available.  They put their blood, sweat, and tears into making us a pair of sneakers or our beloved iPhones. They get paid less than a dollar a day and have to fight for their lives just so we can have these luxuries at an affordable price. We need to open our materialistic eyes and see that this is not okay; we need to put an end to sweatshops.

So why focus on Nike? Well, Nike leads the shoe industry in sales with annual revenue of about $24 billion. We need to focus all of our attention on taking this greedy, inhumane company down because if we take the industry leader down, the rest will realize they shouldn’t use sweatshops either. That’s right: boycott Nike. This is the first step to eliminating sweatshops.

Jim Keady, founder of Team Sweat, gave an inspirational talk to the students of Providence College a few weeks ago. He has been working for years to bring down Nike and their sweatshops. He inspired a group of about 18 students to start spreading the word about Nike sweatshops.

This group of students, from the International Human Services class and Amnesty International, is beginning to educate the PC community about the problem of sweatshops. Please keep a look out for students at Raymond Dining Hall handing out information about Nike sweatshops as well as a hilarious orange man, who is against all logos on clothing, taking pictures with students who are saying no to Nike. This group is trying to get the student body to get involved by educating everyone and having people cover up their logos, sign a petition, and boycott Nike. They are also trying to connect with the bookstore on campus to put Nike products towards the back of the store and products that are sweatshop-free on the front displays.  Also, they hope to talk to the sports teams that have endorsements with Nike in order to get them to choose a different company and eventually go logo-free.  The ultimate goal is to get Providence College to become completely Nike-free and show the company that they need to get rid of sweatshops and pay their workers a living wage before we give them our business again.

A Dress Is Not A Yes

Guest Chat

Kelley Garland ’16

Confidence is key; whatever you decide to flaunt out on the weekend or weekday, it is the confidence and composure that makes one “sexy.” If I want to wear jeans and a nice shirt, I will. Hell, if I feel like wearing a tight dress that is considered a little short, so be it. If someone is confident in himself or herself, the outward appearance should not be taken so heavily into consideration. Truth be told, you should not be spending your nights judging what other people are wearing when they are going out. Honestly, who cares what someone wears. The person wearing the outfit is in charge of her own body; she is independent, she knows her comfort level, she makes her own decisions. A girl should not be viewed as easy because of something short and tight; pieces of fabric sewn together do not determine someone’s life story or choices.

I was brought up on the notion that it is what is on the inside that counts, that is where true beauty lives. I do not believe than clothes cause one to stray from their own values. Disapproving of an outfit gives no one the right to make assumptions about the person wearing it. Such assumptions never lead to anything healthy. It is a serious problem that a girl wearing a tight dress, perhaps showing off her legs and some skin, is thought of as a piece of meat. People are under the impression that girls who dress like this are lusting for attention from boys. It is time to stop making assumptions about people based on society’s misappropriated associations between dress and character. Learn who the real person is; stop projecting assumptions on him/her. This applies every day: not just on nights out.

There is a difference between an assumption and an observation. Looking at a girl without a jacket walking down Guzman Hill first week of December, one might see her shivering. You observe her to be cold. On the other hand, you might see her shivering and assume she’s looking for someone to warm her up later on in the night. Now imagine that same girl hearing people making these assumptions about her. Realistically, she might have wanted to wear that outfit because she believed she looked good in it, and felt that a jacket didn’t match or she was afraid to lose it. You might be correct in your observation, but think twice before making an assumption.

Let’s get some things straight. Wearing these articles of clothing does not mean it is a green light for your peers to take advantage of you. Here’s a question: why do women think that they deserve to be taken advantage of because they felt they dressed a certain way? Whether you a wearing a turtleneck or a crop top, no woman deserves to be treated disrespectfully. It is other people who do not respect a woman’s body—grabbing their ass, coming up from behind and biting their necks without any notice. Men need to respect women, and women need to respect themselves.

Not all guys are like this; our wider culture is largely to blame. But the issue is prevalent enough that it raises the question: “if a woman dresses like a ‘slut,’ is she partially to blame if she is assaulted?” Absolutely not. A woman never deserves to be violated, regardless of dress, location, under the influence or not. Women should never have to think, as they are getting ready to go out, “if I wear this, will something horribly life alternating happen tonight? Will I be taken advantage of? Will I be emotionally and physically scarred?”

It is time for us to put an end to misguided assumptions and victim-blaming stereotypes. We might not be able to change all of society, but we can change Providence College’s campus. If someone says no, it means no. If you see someone who needs help, try to help. And if a girl is comfortable and confident wearing something, then let her express herself. An outfit should never invite unwanted actions. A dress is not a yes.