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

NickDefaultNick Wallace ’14

Dear Class of 2014:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Defense of “The Biggest Loser”

NickDefaultNick Wallace ’14

The world has been buzzing about the results of Tuesday’s Finale of The Biggest Loser. Rachel Frederickson, a 24 year old from Minnesota, lost a total of 155lbs to win, weighing in at 105lbs. But Rachel’s success has become overshadowed by concerns over her appearance, and outcries that she is now “too skinny.” She has since been described as “gaunt,” “frail,” “skin and bones,” and “disgusting.” People have called her a bad role model, and have written negative things to her via social media. Her before and after photos can be found here.

This article will not attempt to delve into the controversial aspects of The Biggest Loser. While the show may inspire others to embark on weight-loss journeys, some argue that it exploits overweight individuals in the form of capitalistic reality television, conveying the idea that being overweight is a condition that in unacceptable. Instead, I wish to defend Rachel as a person, and illustrate the double standard that has emerged as a result of her “controversial” appearance.

Rachel has been universally described as “too skinny.” According to Body Mass Index (BMI), which is the universal standard used to assess obesity in the world, Rachel’s BMI is 18.0. Anyone with a BMI less than 18.5 is considered “underweight.” Therefore, technically speaking, Rachel is “underweight.” But there is an inherent problem with BMI as a measure of health and wellness. BMI was first developed by a nineteenth century astronomer who was trying to find the relationship between the “laws of the heavens” and the earth. In doing so, he sampled army conscripts from France and Scotland, and noticed that the “average” person’s weight in kilograms was proportional to his height in meters squared. BMI became popular among insurance companies in the early 20th century in order to assess risk; each standard deviation greater than the mean subsequently led to a “high-risk” consumer. So what’s the problem with BMI? It is simply a height-weight ratio. An astronomer who only sampled army men created it. It doesn’t take into account someone’s resting heart rate, their family history, their body fat percentage, their muscle mass, their cardiovascular health, their diet, or any other wellness factors. Rachel may technically be “underweight,” but it is foolish to speculate whether or not she is “healthy.” Knowing her blood pressure, her diet, and her exercise habits would give us a much better indicator, not simply her weight. Oh, and by the way: at 6’0 and 187 lbs, BMI tells me that I am overweight; I promise that I am not.

Furthermore, I’m willing to bet that Rachel isn’t actually 105 lbs. The contestants on The Biggest Loser compete in a weight-loss competition; the finalists had a chance to win $250,000. Thus, I am sure that the contestants use all of the tricks and tactics used by bodybuilders (or other athletes that are required to compete in a certain weight-class) in order to get the lowest possible number to appear on the scale. What does that mean? It means periods of hardcore dieting, carbohydrate cycling, sitting in saunas, manipulating your sodium intake, and drinking tons of water. My guess is that Rachel would normally weigh in around 110-115 lbs, which would put her BMI in the “normal weight” category.

Rachel’s story is actually quite touching. This young woman was once a world-class athlete. She was a three time state champion swimmer in Minnesota (including holding multiple state records), an All-American, and had full scholarships to Division I schools. Rachel, however, decided to quit swimming, and moved to Europe with her boyfriend following high school. After the break-up, she turned to food and gained over 100 lbs. What’s my point? Rachel is a fierce competitor. She’s a winner. And she was competing in an incentivized competition. So what did she do? She did everything in her power to win that quarter of a million dollars, and it worked. Perhaps she pushed the boundaries and her limits too far. Perhaps she went a bit “overboard.” But the bottom line is that she was trying to win the title of The Biggest Loser, and a quarter of a million dollars. Like most Biggest Loser winners, I’m sure Rachel will put on some weight now that the show is over.

I’m not saying that I was not shocked by Rachel’s appearance. In my opinion (which doesn’t really matter), she did look too skinny. However, our society is often too quick to associate “skinny looking people” with eating disorders. Although, anyone who describes Rachel as “gaunt” or “twigish” should take a look at her legs: they look pretty healthy and muscular to me. Too many people took a look at her arms and cried anorexia. While we are all entitled to our own opinions and preferences, we are not all physicians. Our bodies are all created differently. Rachel’s appearance may have shocked me, but besides from her arms, nothing concerned me.

However, the main point I wish to make is that even after this woman worked hard to “take her life back,” she is still be scrutinized by everyone else around her. At 260lbs, people were calling her lazy, fat, and ugly. Now at 105 lbs (remember that its really closer to 115), she is being demonized for being too skinny. There is no difference between calling someone grotesquely skinny or grotesquely fat. In either case, doing so is judging the person by his/her appearance, and it is immoral and wicked.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion. You are allowed to think Rachel looks too skinny. You are allowed to think that she would look better if she gained some weight. But you cannot judge the type of person she is, or her health, by her appearance.

Ironically, my last article touched upon this subject a bit. I questioned the need to label a model as “Plus-Sized,” simply because of the fact that she not below a size 8. Well my message remains the same. To those of you who are judging Rachel for her appearance at the Finale, realize you are no different than those who judge people for being over-weight.  At the end of the day, Rachel is Rachel. This whole article is presuming that Rachel lost the weight without harming her body. If she did not, we have an obvious problem. But we cannot assume such actions, and therefore, I am going to give Rachel the benefit of the doubt. As long as she is healthy, likes the way she looks in the mirror, and feels confident about the person she has become, none of us are in any place to judge.

So congratulations, Rachel. Let the haters hate. Don’t spend the money all in one place.

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.

Gladiators on Ice? Why the Goons Have to Go

NickDefaultNick Wallace ’14

I’ll never forget my first ever PC hockey game. The crowd was electric. The Pep Band was grooving. The community-like atmosphere of Schneider Arena made me feel like I was on the ice with the players. During the first intermission, a local Pee Wee hockey team scrimmaged one another. All of a sudden, I watched two kids (no older than 8 years old) drop the gloves and begin to fight. I was astonished. Most of the student section was amused. Nevertheless, those two kids were simply emulating perhaps the most unique aspect that comes in the game of hockey: fighting.

Admittedly, I’m not exactly sure how I feel about fighting in hockey. On the one hand, it’s exciting. Fans enjoy it. It can change the momentum of the game. Two players both agree to drop the gloves, duke it out, and spend five minutes in the box before returning to play. While the two players are going at it, their teammates are cheering them on from their respective benches. Sometimes, the two players will even shake hands or pat each other on the back before heading to the penalty box, offering a sign of mutual respect to one another. Fighting allows for the individual battles that develop on the ice to be sorted out: You have a problem with me. I have a problem with you. Lets drop the gloves then move on. In a sense, fighting is a way of the players self-policing the league of the dirty acts that occur on the ice.

However, hockey is unique in its allowance of such an institution. Throwing a punch in any other major sport comes with an immediate ejection and a subsequent suspension. And more physical sports like boxing and MMA? Those athletes wear gloves, and put Vaseline on the areas where they are most likely to witness impact (like their faces) in order to make the skin more elastic and slippery, in turn decreasing their chances to being cut. Thus, hockey seems to be the only professional sport that allows bear-knuckle fighting to take place. Not only that, but we as fans encourage the fighting to take place. We stand. We scream. We cheer. We pay to see them fight. We pay to see them punch. We pay to see them fall. Hockey players become gladiators on skates, fighting on a slippery surface, in an arena equipped to seat thousands of fans.

Fighting is no longer enough, however. Each team features at least one “enforcer,” whose sole job is to protect his teammates and inflict pain on his opponents. Enforcers are big, strong bruisers. They are supposed to instill fear into the opposing skill players. Presumably, the Sidney Crosby’s of the world will be less aggressive with the puck, less likely to skate across the middle, and less likely to attack offensively if they know that a 225-pound monster is trying to hunt him. Furthermore, enforcers must protect their own offensive skill players from other enforcers. Consequently, what has ensued is an influx of goons on the ice, whose sole purpose is not to put the puck in the net, but to instead physically hurt others.

The latest goon-like actions took place in a game between the Bruins and the Penguins on December 7th. As two of the top teams in the East, and long-time rivals, the game was expected to be fast-paced and physical. What resulted, however, was instead a disgusting and unforgiving act of vengeance. During a stoppage in play, Bruins Forward Shawn Thornton pulled the Penguins’ Brooks Orpik to the ice, from behind, and punched him several times in the head. Orpik left the game on a stretcher, and suffered a concussion. Shawn Thornton received a game misconduct, and has been suspended for 15 games, which he is currently appealing.

The incident followed two other extremely physical moments in the game. Orpik (the victim of Thornton’s attack) knocked the Bruins’ Loui Eriksson out of the game earlier with a big hit. Eriksson, who suffered a concussion earlier in the year, suffered another concussion as a result. Additionally, Penguins’ James Neal struck Boston’s Brad Marchand with his knee as he skated by Marchand, who had fallen to the ice at the time. It should be noted that Orpik’s hit was clearly high, Erriksson never actually touched the puck, and Orpik should have be called for an interference penalty; the ref’s decision not to was horrendous. Additionally, Neal’s knee to the head of Marchand led to a 5 game suspension.

The passion that comes within sports needs no introduction. At every level of the game, athletes fight hard to win. Emotions run high, and sometimes our competitiveness overcomes our mindfulness. It can be argued that Thornton was trying to protect his teammates. He attempted to fight Brooks Orpik earlier in the game, but Orpik refused. Some will argue that had the two just dropped the gloves, Thornton’s actions would have been prevented. However, the fact that Thornton’s actions were provoked by the “dirty,” physical acts of his opponents does not justify his malicious intent. There is a difference between “getting back” at an opponent within the context of a game, and purposely and willfully trying to harm another human being. In hockey and football there are hard hits. In basketball, there are hard fouls. If such physical acts cross the line, penalties are assessed. But Shawn Thornton approached Brooks Orpik from behind with the intention of hurting him. He took him to the ground and punched him multiple times in the head. If such actions were done anywhere else- a shopping mall, a school, a city street- they would lead to an arrest and possibly a jail sentence. But since it occurred in a sports arena, Shawn Thornton was cheered on Bruins fans, and simply given a 15 game suspension.

            I’ve never played hockey, but I’ve been around it my entire life. My brother plays in the newly established Premier Junior League, and hopes to be playing college hockey next fall. Thus, I’ve been dragged to enough amateur hockey games in my life to tell you the existence of goons goes beyond the professional level. In fact, I argue that there are more goons at the amateur level than the professional level. I’ve seen hard hits, high elbows, and swing-like slashes. Amateur hockey players imitate their idols. Junior Leagues allow fighting to take place, some giving players a game-misconduct, others just the traditional 5 minute trip to the penalty box. I once witnessed a game where all 10 players on the ice (excluding the goalies) were fighting at once, each member of a team matched with an opponent. We allow this to take place because it has become an accepted part of the sport. (Interestingly, the NCAA prohibits fighting.)   

Across the board, professional sports leagues in the United States have been instituting regulations and rule changes to crack down on concussions. Starting in 2011, the NFL moved kickoffs up 5 yards, which led to a 26.7 % decrease in kick returns. Just last week, the MLB announced future plans to eliminate home plate collisions, which has the potential to go into effect starting next season. The NHL has recently outlawed hits to the head, and has released official statements supporting player safety and concussion prevention. (In the 2012-2013 season, 85 NHL players suffered a concussion) The truth is that rule changes won’t stop concussions. They can happen at any time during the game, and often happen as a result of physical acts or hits that are legally allowed by the rules of the game. However, that doesn’t mean that precautionary measures shouldn’t take place in hopes of creating a safer environment for players. We cannot eliminate concussions altogether, but any decrease in the prevalence of such injuries is a victory. I’m okay with rule changes as long as the players and owners agree with them. The safety of the players should come before the entertainment of the fans, not the other way around.

It’s one thing to play physical; it is another to harm an opponent with malevolence. Shawn Thornton has a reputation for being a stand up guy. Although he may be the Bruins enforcer, he’s never been suspended before, and felt remorseful after committing his actions. All of these things were taken into account when the league issued its suspension. Nonetheless, first offense or not, 15 games isn’t a harsh enough punishment to prevent things like this from happening again. In my opinion, Shawn Thornton should be suspended for the rest of the season. I’m not ready to call for the outlaw of fighting in hockey just yet, but the NHL must crack down on the nonsensical acts like those of Shawn Thornton AND James Neal. Fighting should not be the source of worry in regards to concussions. Instead, the existence of goons, who dress for a 60-minute game, but play 3 total minutes in shifts and accumulate 7 minutes worth of penalties, should be concerning to all those who worry about player safety. If the NHL is serious about concussion prevention, then the goons have to go.

Thanks For Proving Me Wrong, PC

NickDefaultNick Wallace ’14

Where do I start? Upon hearing about the cancellation of Dr. Corvino’s lecture I wasn’t mad; I was livid. I don’t want to beat the reasons why into the ground (you can watch my 7 and a half minute tangent on the subject here: here). However, I feel obligated to mention two that have not been raised by many others.

The school’s policy of “equal and opposing points of views” for topics that are controversial to Catholic doctrine is BS to say the least. Seriously though, this policy isn’t written anywhere, and isn’t consistently enforced. For example, this Monday James Stacey Taylor, an associate professor of Philosophy at The College of New Jersey, is scheduled to give a lecture on Monday about capitalism and Catholicism. However, Rerum Novarum condemns classical free market economics. So, being that Catholic doctrine and the natural law according to St. Thomas Aquinas emphasize free and fair play in trading, and being that capitalism is anything but that, I expect one of two things to happen before tomorrow:

a) Providence College demands the opposing point of view to also be represented at the event tomorrow.

OR

b) Provost Lena cancels the event, being that according to Ex corde ecclesiae, “the Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

In case you couldn’t decipher my attempt at being facetious, I do not actually want tomorrow’s event to be cancelled/adjusted in any way. I’m simply trying to make a point; this non-existent policy isn’t even being applied consistently. Thus, it goes to show you that the topic of the original lecture itself, gay marriage, was the main reason behind the cancellation. As a result, our LGBT community was isolated, and has every right to feel like they do not belong. That is the message our administration has sent to them.

Secondly, Public Administration has taught me that in any hierarchal structure, whether it is the federal bureaucracy or here at Providence College, those in power do not delegate to others what are most important to them. Where do we as PC students see the Fr. Shanley? We see him at our men’s basketball games, and on TV when we decided to leave the Big East. We see him finding rich donors to construct beautiful new buildings on campus. Sports and money are important to Fr. Shanley, and rightfully so. But I believe the needs of the students are also important. So let me ask you, Father Shanley: Where were you at Thursday’s event where almost 500 people were in attendance? Why did Provost Lena send the email? Why have you not sent a school wide email telling us what you think about the matter? Where were you last year at the Hoodie Rally for Social Justice after problems with racial profiling on campus gained national attention? Father Shanley has made it extremely clear that the problems that arise here on campus are not as important as making Providence College a basketball and hockey powerhouse with some nice looking buildings to go along with it. Clearly, this has some apparent and serious consequences.

If I’ve learned one thing this first month of the school year, it’s that I am a “maximizer.” What does that mean? Well at least in terms of Public Administration, I over-think and analyze every decision in my life before coming to a conclusion. I rarely go with that gut instinct. Instead, before deciding to do ANYTHING, I go through my options over and over again to decide which action will be the most beneficial (I think you business people call this “cost-benefit” analysis). I do this with literally everything: what to wear and where to go, while writing and speaking, and even when deciding what to do in the gym for the day. What’s worse is that even after making a decision, I think to myself “What if I had chosen the other option.” Surely there are pros and cons to this life approach, but the thing that stuck out to me the most when learning about “maximizers” is that they almost never take risks. Those closest to me would tell you exactly this. They’d tell you that I need to loosen up, that I’m too up tight at times, and that I am always safe with my decision-making. So this past week, I finally decided to take a risk.

My Community Organizing class decided at 4 PM on Monday that something was inherently wrong with the administration’s handling of the situation. Students had no idea what was going on; in fact, many had no clue that Dr. Corvino was coming in the first place. We planned the counter-event that took place on Thursday, and began informing the students via social media what had transpired. Friarside acted as a news outlet on campus, and we did everything we could to post and release the latest updates. By 9 PM, the New York Times had released an article about the cancellation of the speaker, and we were the talk of the world.

This past week I struggled wearing more than one hat. As a community organizer who felt passionately that the school had screwed up, I wanted to hold those responsible accountable. At the same time, as the Vice President of Student Congress, I was expected to act rationally and not impulsively. It seemed like somebody was scrutinizing everything I said or did. At times I was doing too much; at other times I was not doing enough. People cautioned me not to take action, telling me that while the administration may be in the wrong, we as a student body would need their help for future battles. Others cautioned me that my actions would follow me forever, and that I would eventually have to answer to a future employer about disobeying authority figures. My own mother even advised against me “stirring the pot,” and was nervous about my scholarship being taken away. In my opinion, too many people were thinking individualistically about the issue at hand. This wasn’t about you or me; this was about us as a campus. It wasn’t any one individual’s decision to “stir the pot,” it was a collective movement that had to occur. So anybody who doubted me this week, you lit my fire. So thank you for that.

And in terms of the event itself, it was amazing. I have to say; I never thought this campus could do something like this. We have a reputation for being a divisive school, full of polarizing questions. But for this, we came together and united under a common cause. Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives, and hell, even The Cowl and Friarside collaborated for this one. Between 400-450 people attended, with another 115 or so watching via live stream. Students, teachers, and staff all came together and took part in the academic discussion that was taken away from us. We listened to student testimonials, broke up into small groups, and provided an outlet for individuals to share their stories in a larger open forum. More, the feedback myself and other students who organized the event have received has been tremendously positive. I’ve received emails and FaceBook messages from people I don’t know, thanking me for putting on the event. I’d just like to say this: Don’t thank me for the work you all have done yourselves. I did not make this event happen. My class didn’t make this event happen. The hundreds of you who made an appearance and showed that the issues of marriage equality and academic freedom are important to you made this happen. Thanks for proving me wrong, PC; I really needed you to do so.

The Target We Put On Our Backs

NickDefaultNick Wallace ’14

Anybody who lives in an off-campus house at Providence College will tell you that there are two sides to the story. In many ways, living off campus is awesome. There is a sense of camaraderie among my housemates and myself. In fact, we just started an underground fraternity with the house next door…Delta Omega Epsilon! More, we do not have to deal with the “nanny-state” that PC executives and administrators force students to live under. Off campus, there are no parietals and no one to tell you not to drink hard liquor. There are no RA’s, no hall meetings, and no scheduled fire drills. We are truly on our own. And with that comes responsibility.

We have to pay rent (which, after adding in furniture, utilities, and food expenses, is STILL cheaper than living on campus), take out the garbage, and can’t call Fixit when something breaks. We have to plan ahead. Often times, I pack my bag for the entire day: books, computer, gym clothes, work clothes, business casual attire for a meeting, snacks, and lunch. Last but not least, those of us part of the 02908-crew do a decent amount of walking just to get to and from campus. When the weather is nice, it’s a pleasure; when the snow begins to fall, there may be some problems. All in all, for my particular case the good outweighs the bad. There is, of course, another aspect of living off-campus that I have not yet mentioned: sharing the community with local residents. And this is something we clearly need to do a better job of.

Every weekend, PC students destroy the community that we share with fellow residents. We drunkenly parade around Eaton Street, yelling, screaming, and damaging property. We leave solo cups all over the streets, start fights with one another, and prevent local families from living peacefully. Intoxicated PC students too often initiate verbal conflicts with the locals, which leads to larger altercations. Twice a year we aggressively flaunt our economic affluence to our neighbors by dressing up in country club attire for the Golf Party. And worst of all, when we go back and tell our friends about the neighborhood we live in, we refer to our surrounding community with terms like “the ghetto.” Each year, a new group of students barges into an already settled community and breaks it down. Before we were freshmen, these people lived here. When we graduate, these people will still live here. It is a privilege, not a right, to share this community with them. But our actions, whether or not they are intentional, are disrespectful and disgusting on many levels. As a result, the locals view us collectively as rich, white, troublemakers.

PC is currently buzzing about the latest crime alert notification we received over the weekend. Let me set a few things straight: First, I do not know the victim personally, but I wish him a speedy recovery. Secondly, I do not wish to trivialize the incident. This poor student does not deserve to be a statistic, and seems to have been at the wrong place at the wrong time. It could have been any of us at the corner of Pembroke and Eaton at 8:55 on a Friday night. Last, I do NOT want to suggest that incidents like this are caused by our clearly disrespectful actions listed above. The student who was recently injured was maliciously attacked, and by no means deserved in any way, shape, or form what happened him. However, I AM going to suggest that our collective weekend behavior and the high number of attacks on PC students are associated. Perhaps if we didn’t act in such ways, we wouldn’t have targets on our backs while doing simple things like buying a gallon of milk.

Recently, Student Affairs released a list of recommendations for PC students to follow in order to stay safe. The list includes:

  • Being aware of your surroundings and traveling in groups whenever possible.
  • Looking out for one another.
  • Avoiding pre-gaming.

Security constantly reminds students at the end of Security Advisories to “be vigilant, avoid walking alone, be alert, and notice appearances.” Notice how neither message says anything about being respectful to our neighbors. I think it is pretty apparent that we as a campus sometimes take for granted our opportunity and privilege to be a part of somebody else’s community for four years.

We can do better, Providence College. We have outlets in place that are trying to bridge the gap between our neighbors and us. Congress, BMSA, and BOP all have Outreach committees that focus on community service within the city of Providence. PSP classes emphasize service learning that takes place outside of the classroom, engaging students with some of the broader public issues in Providence. The Smith Hill Annex is a great new space for PC students and the surrounding Smith Hill residents to share. Finally, fellow writer Matt Smith led several community walks during Freshman Orientation, something that I feel is just as important for new students to attend as a sexual assault or safety and security workshop. In fact, community walks should be an orientation requirement. While these efforts do not go unnoticed, perhaps it is the case that we will not truly be able to “bridge the gap” that exists between local residents and ourselves until we adjust the way act on the weekends. We can do better, PC. Go out. Have a good time. Just be respectful.

Dear 2017: Fitness Tips for Staying Well

NickDefaultNick Wallace ’14

The first of a series of letters “Dear 2017” letters from Friarside writers to the incoming Freshman.

Dear Class of 2017,

College is full of new experiences. New friends. New classes. A new home. And while college may act as the best time of our lives, there are some negative externalities to the environment we call home during our four-year tenure. Dining halls are filled with ridiculous amounts of food- a daily, endless buffet. And while it is certainly possible to eat healthy in any college dining hall, the temptation of soft drinks, French fries, and chocolate chip cookies often trumps fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Combine that with the increased influx of alcohol, and we have a recipe for disaster.  As a Certified Personal Trainer, and a self-proclaimed fitness guru, I figured my Friarside Open Letter could finally address the thing I am most passionate about. So Class of 2017, especially those who now call Providence College their home, here are a few tips to avoid the infamous Freshman Fifteen.

1.Treat the Weekends as a Reward, Not a Lifestyle

Listen people, I get it. I understand that you just left Mom and Dad and are living “on your own.” I understand that the consumption of alcohol makes it a lot easier to approach new people and “get yourself out there.” And from a fitness point of view, the fact of the matter is that a few drinks and a cheat meal on the weekends are not going to kill you.

However, getting blackout drunk five times a week will surely have negative consequences on your weight (not to mention your overall health, and probably your grades). No surprise here, alcohol is high in calories. Few people like to drink liquor straight out of the bottle, so most mix it with sugary goodness to make the taste somewhat bearable. And beer? It’s straight carbohydrates, which are stored as fat when the body consumes more than is needed. Throw in the fact that most people are drinking at the end of the night before falling asleep, not before running a marathon. These calories are not being utilized through energy expenditure, and therefore are a surefire way to increase your waistline. Moreover, we all are more inclined to make bad eating decisions while under the influence. You are certainly more likely to order Dominos or go to the Yuk Truck after a trip to Clubbies (it will never actually become Ava’s Wrath).

My point is that you deserve to have fun and let loose… just work hard during the week. Breaking even during the week won’t do anything to counterbalance a weekend binge. If you really want to indulge via alcohol or junk food, make sure to be at a slight calorie deficit during the week via diet and exercise. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Make Exercising a Routine

My first semester of college was my worst academically. It wasn’t because I was doing too much partying, and it wasn’t because I wasn’t trying hard. It was simply because I was adjusting to the new system. My writing style was poor, and I disliked my daily Western Civ clicker quizzes; it was a terrible match. And I can promise you that you, new freshmen, will initially have similar troubles adjusting. With five academic classes to deal with, along with finding times to socialize with friends, it can be tough to get to the gym. But, I’m a firm believer that if it is important to you, you’ll find a way to make it happen. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse. Get in the habit of going to the gym and eating right during the week so you do not have to feel bad about letting loose on the weekends. Or, get in a great workout before going out. It will allow you to consume a few extra calories, and also energize you for the rest of the night.

3.But Don’t Overdo it

Ever walk into a gym in January? If you have, you know that it’s filled with “Resolutioners,” those people who promise themselves they are going to make a positive wellness change in their lives. Let me let you in on a little secret: most “Resolutioners” fail. Now, I do not mean to poke fun at newcomers, for I was not always the crazed fitness freak I am today. But the reason why most newcomers drop off the wagon is because they go too hard, too quickly. How sustainable is it for someone living a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle to start going to the gym five times a week and counting calories? It isn’t. If you are looking to make a change, take small steps. Switch to whole grain bread and pasta and skim milk. Go to the gym twice a week for a month. After the month is over, increase it to three times a week. The slower the process, the more likely you are to continually see the results without dropping out.

4. When you do go to the gym, make it count

I’m a certified personal trainer, and I can’t help walking around the gym critiquing people’s form and gym etiquette. And trust me, there are times where I think I am going to lose it. (Hey guys, do your biceps curls somewhere other than the squat racks, please.) It isn’t my place to go up to somebody and correct his or her form, and unless somebody asks me directly, I try not to give fitness advice. But I can’t help but notice how inefficient most people, especially students, are in the gym. Typical PC girls flock to ellipticals and treadmills and workout at a moderate intensity for 45 minutes, followed by about 15 minutes of abs. Guys workout out chest and arms, and compromise their form in order to brag to their friends about how much they can lift. Seriously, if somebody asks me “How much do you bench” one more time, I may just snap. In all honesty, muscle strength is only one of the five components fitness.  Not many guys in the gym walk around asking how fast you can run a mile, or how many pull-ups you can do. So here are a few tips on making your actual gym time more efficient.

Girls: Lifting weights doesn’t make you bulky; eating too many unhealthy foods does. Try and incorporate resistance training into your routine. You don’t have to be squatting 300 lbs, just shock your body into trying something new. Do some leg extensions and do 20 bodyweight squats in between sets. Try the row machine or the shoulder press, and stick in the 10-15 rep range. But most importantly, don’t pick a cardio machine and stay on the same resistance for 45 minutes. Interval training is more time efficient, burns more calories, and will boost your metabolism for the rest of the day. Try something like this:

5 minute warm up, 1 minute hard / 1 minute easy (x8), 5 minute cool down

26 total minutes, and as long as you are true to yourself during the “hard intervals,” you will burn more fat than a traditional long distance low intensity cardio session.

Guys: Only advanced lifters should have an entire day devoted for arms. Stay away from the split routines and isolation exercises. Instead, try three full body workouts a week, composed of mainly compound lifts. A workout made up of squats, bench presses, deadlifts, pushups, and pullups will suffice. Try and increase the amount of weight you use each time you hit the gym. Do some type of cardio workout either after resistance training (when your glycogen levels are already low) or on a separate day from lifting. And doing crunches won’t give you abs, losing fat will; the interval training routine outlined above works perfectly for both sexes.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Most schools have faculty and staff designed to help students reach their fitness goals. Hire a personal trainer (yours truly would love to help), or take a group exercise class. In fact, I will be teaching a water Boot Camp class on Thursday nights at 8 PM. It promises to be a fun and unique way to burn calories and learn about fitness. If the water isn’t for you, opt for a Spin class or BodyPump. Whatever you do, just get moving! And if you ever have any questions, feel free to ask.

I’ll leave you with one final thought, 2017. Its not about having time, it’s about making time. You can do it. Stay well.

All the best,

Nick

What Now? Channeling Outrage Into Activism

NickDefaultNick Wallace ’14

If you’ve never been to a Wallace family gathering, you are truly missing out. I myself am one of four kids, and have dozens of cousins ranging from the ages of 2-24. Our home phone ringtone is legitimately a circus tune; you know, the one that goes, “doo-doo-doobee-doobee-doo-doo-doooooo-ooo.” My dog aggressively greets the leg of any person who walks through the front door. And with so many outgoing Wallace’s in one place, the two most forbidden dinner conversation topics (politics and religion) are guaranteed to emerge.

Somehow, although not surprising, I always find myself gravitating to the center of these conversations. Perhaps it is because, both religiously and ideologically, I differ greatly from the rest of my family. My fellow Wallace’s just cannot wrap their heads around the fact that the little white kid from an affluent family who was raised Catholic now cries for income redistribution, supports affirmative action, and considers himself a skeptical agnostic. My family members give me some weird looks after I express my personal political opinions, in which my mother always paraphrases, “Nicky just wants everybody to be treated equally.”

Apparently that is too much to ask for. Nevertheless, too many people today make the mistake of thinking that all is well in the United States in terms of race relations. Too many people believe that the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and the subsequent passing of the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts, made everything “okay” between blacks and whites. They argue that slavery no longer exists, that people are no longer getting lynched, and that blacks are getting educated at higher numbers than ever before, which has led to prominent figures like Oprah and Bill Cosby becoming successful. And for Pete’s sake, a black man was even elected President of the United States! Surely this means that racism has been ridden from this country.

Let’s make something clear: Even if we accept the premise that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ushered in true “equality” between blacks and whites in America, (clearly, if you have been keeping up with current events, this is not true… more about this later) not much could have changed in the last 50 years. Think about it: the enslavement of Africans formed a black cloud of hatred and oppression over this land for over 500 years. We have had “equality” for less than 50. Can we really expect all of the feelings of racism and prejudice that built up over half a millennium to be alleviated in just a few decades?

The truth is that there is no equality. There are simply whites and others. Now I do not mean to suggest that race relations have not gotten better over time; clearly they have. But there is still much work to do. The following facts come from Michael Dawson’s work Not in Our Lifetimes: The Future of Black Politics, and undoubtedly show how the systematic biases of the American political system continue to make blacks subordinate.

-In 2007, median black income was only 59 % of whites.

-Black poverty rates run twice that of whites.

-Median net worth of blacks is $5,446, while for whites it is $87,056 (a ratio greater than 15:1)

-In March of 2009, the black unemployment rate was over one and a half times greater than the white unemployment rate

-64% of African Americans remain confined to segregated neighborhoods. Residing in segregated neighborhoods adversely affects wealth generation and job opportunities.

-Blacks make up 13 % of the population, but held 50% of the high-cost mortgages that were so burdensome during the financial crisis.

-In 2008, one-third of blacks seeking conventional loans were denied, as opposed to just 15% of white applicants.

-In 2007, 1 out of 100 Americans was incarcerated. That same year, one out of every nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34 were in jail or prison.

-Blacks have a 600% greater chance than whites of dying from homicide and an 800% greater risk of mortality due to chronic respiratory disease.

-Blacks make up 50% of all those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, and are at a much greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease than whites.

-In 2007, 40% of black adults did not have health insurance, as opposed to just 13 % of whites.

To top it all off, blacks are disproportionately represented in the United States Congress. Of the 100 Senators only two are African American, and neither was actually elected. (Both Mo Cowan of Massachusetts and Tim Scott of South Carolina were appointed to fill vacated seats) The Supreme Court just issued two rulings, which could have major ramifications for African Americans. Last month, the Supreme Court narrowed affirmative action in college admissions, and deemed a certain provision of the Voting Rights Act invalid. The two decisions, whether they are right or wrong, will negatively affect black communities.

Last, but certainly not least, came the not-guilty verdict of the George Zimmerman trial last night. I will not claim to be an expert on the trial. I did not keep up with it as much as I should have. From my understanding, based on the evidence presented by both the prosecution and the defense to that specific jury in a local Florida court, it is not surprising that Zimmerman was acquitted. The prosecution failed to prove their case. It seems less like a defense win, and more like a prosecution loss.

But while Zimmerman may not be guilty, he is not innocent. The fact remains that he killed a seventeen-year-old boy who was unarmed. People can argue all they want about the details. Who attacked whom, the amount of time it took for Trayvon Martin to return home, and how George Zimmerman broke his nose are all irrelevant. While I may personally believe that George Zimmerman racially profiled Trayvon Martin, none of us will ever know for sure.

What I do know, however, is that a lot of white shame was felt today. The public flocked to their social media outlets to let out their disgust with the ruling. People of all different ages, races and backgrounds peacefully rallied against the decision. Whether George Zimmerman intended to kill Trayvon Martin or not, he still killed him. And thanks to the “Stand Your Ground Law,” which is the real root of the problem here, a killer was set free, and an entire race of people is left thinking, “What Now?” Even in the “Age of Obama,” the entire Trayvon Martin incident leaves blacks feeling like this young boy’s life is just disposable in the eyes of the state and white majority. It makes anybody with a black brother, husband, boyfriend, son or friend think that it could have been him instead of Trayvon Martin that was killed.

Perhaps most importantly, however, is the sense of otherness that this trial has created. It reinforces the notion that being black and walking in a white neighborhood is bad. So bad, in fact, that you could get killed for doing so. Being a minority in this country, whether it is because of race, color, or sexual orientation is synonymous with being an “other.” Trayvon Martin was killed because he was “an other.” Consequently, all of the “others” in the country should feel worried. My guess is that if the roles were reversed and a black man killed a white man out of “self-defense,” the nation would have received a very different verdict.

So where do we go from here? I, like many others, am discouraged by the continued discrimination and racism that exits in a country that proclaims itself to be founded by the principle that “all men are created equal.” But my discouragement simply lights my fire for activism. Do not be a bystander to what is happening around you. Stand up for what is right. Stand up for equality!

Takeaway Points from “Embracing Diversity: An Invitation to Conversation with Fr. Shanley Regarding the College’s Core Values”

NickDefaultNick Wallace ’14

(Blog Admin’s Note: This piece was written on Friday night with the event fresh on the author’s mind. Finals can be blamed for the delay in turn-around time for posting it.)

1. Administrators refused to admit that the event itself was largely in response to the rally against racism just two days earlier, which was covered by numerous local news outlets.

The administrators in the room, including Father Shanley, proclaimed that the event had been “planned for months,” and had nothing to do with the “Hoodie Day Rally for Social Justice” that took place this past Wednesday. However, it is hard not to be skeptical of these assertions, being that the rally against racism ended just before 5 pm, and an email to the student body with information about the special dinner with Fr. Shanley was sent the same night at 8 pm. When is the last time you as a PC student have received an email blast after administrative offices close at 4:30? Look through your email archives on outlook, and you will realize that you do not get emails from the school after the offices close, simply because all mass emails must be approved by SAIL. Now, I know that administrative emails do not have to be approved by SAIL, but I am still reluctant to believe that an event with such weighty subject matter, if it truly had been planned for months, would have only been advertised less than 48 hours before it occurred. Therefore, if this event were truly planned beforehand, the email would have been sent much earlier in the week to bolster student participation and interest.

2. Diversity is (slowly) increasing.

Whether or not you like it, PC is slowly becoming a more diverse place (at least in terms of racial diversity). According to Fr. Shanley, in 2008 “students of color” made up less than 9 % of the populous at Providence College. More, students of minority status make up 16 % of the incoming class of 2017. That is almost a 100% increase in five years. Shanley said that there is no quota for minority students, but that every year, his goal is to see the number increase. Nevertheless, diversity amongst the student body means little when…

3. There is little racial diversity amongst the faculty.

Students at the dinner with Father Shanley voiced concerns about not being able to relate to professors here on campus, and rightfully so. When asked why more professors of color were not hired, Shanley argued that Rafael Zapata, the Chief Diversity Officer of the school, would be more equipped to answer the question. The student courageously asserted that she did not want to hear Rafael speak, and that she instead wanted to hear what the President of the College had to say. Shanley responded by saying that minorities are less likely to be enrolled in PhD programs than whites, and subsequently it is hard to convince the very few professors of color to teach here. While this is confirmed by empirical research, perhaps professors of color are choosing other schools because they feel as if they would not belong at PC, or that PC is not taking the proper steps to protect faculty members of all races. Being that the recent rally against racism was organized by a professor who was a victim of racist emails and tweets, (which, by the way, the administration never publicly denounced via email) it is by no means ridiculous to assert that PC has created an environment in which both professors and students of color alike do not feel comfortable living. If you were a prominent professor of color looking for a teaching position, would you be particularly inclined to seek a position at a school with an apparent diversity problem that refuses to include certain groups of people into its notice of non-discrimination? Which brings me to my next point…

4. The student body wants the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” included into the non-discrimination policy.

Student Congress passed a piece of legislation, which addressed the issue, two weeks ago. The Faculty Senate overwhelmingly backed the recommendation just recently. Now is the time for the administration to act. As stated in my last article, Fr. Shanley told The Cowl in 2010 that PC does not discriminate based on sexual orientation. However, in 2010 he was still unwilling to include the term, which would officially prohibit PC from discriminating against an individual based on his/her sexual orientation. Three years later, the issue is still pressing. However, other Catholic schools have taken the initiative to include “sexual orientation” into their non-discrimination policies. Perhaps this is what is needed to convince Shanley to concede. It should be noted the importance of including gender identity into the non-discrimination policy as well. Doing so does not condone the lifestyle. It would not, by any means, show that Providence College endorses or advertises the way of life. It would simply allow a group of people on campus to be legally protected against discrimination. It is not much to ask, and it does not compromise Providence College’s Catholic identity; it is an issue of equality. Implement the piece of legislation passed by Student Congress, and allow these human beings to feel safer on campus.

5. Students want to see the Shan-Man at more events, not just men’s basketball games.

Sure, he isn’t a superhero, and obviously can’t be in two places at once. But with issues like racism still pressing here on campus, it would have been both reassuring and encouraging to see Fr. Shanley at the rally. I understand his role as President involves countless hours of traveling around the country, recruiting students/faculty members, and bartering with alumni for more money. But a lack of transparency clearly exists. If he can make it a priority to attend men’s basketball and ice hockey games, Fr. Shanley can make it a priority to take the issue of diversity and racism “head-on.” Attending the rally on Wednesday would have been a way of doing so, while subsequently increasing collaboration and transparency.

6. Fr. Shanley apologized for not taking action when he should have.

When hearing Fr. Shanley speak, it doesn’t take too long to realize that the man is both very intelligent and sincere. With that being said, he said that with hindsight, if he had a time machine and could do one thing over, he would have released a statement to the entire school defending the diversity initiative that was attacked by a misinformed Cowl article earlier this semester. He proclaimed that he was human, and that humans make mistakes. I give credit to our president for acknowledging his faults. But is it too late to issue such a statement? Clearly diversity is still an ongoing topic on campus. A school-wide email wrapping up the year as a whole, and addressing the school’s intentions moving forward with diversity, would still be appropriate and effective.

7. It will take time to see change, but that does not mean we should not seek it.

Diversity is something that cannot be achieved over night. I understand that it will take years to assess the effectiveness of PC’s current diversity initiatives. Nonetheless, this should not be used as an excuse for inactivity. Racism is clearly still a problem on this campus. If it weren’t, there would not be the many reports of racial profiling of students by security guards on campus. There would not be instances in which racist remarks were graffitied on bathroom doors. Finally, teachers and students would not be prejudged and even demonized because of the color of their skin. As long as these realities exist, we should not patiently await for diversity to arrive; we must actively pursue it.

8. The diversity initiative will be considered complete once nobody on this campus, despite his/her ethnic background, religious preference, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or skin color, feels marginalized.

This is pretty self-explanatory, and the end to the diversity initiative is not in sight. When will we have achieved diversity? The answer is when we do not have to put on events like the one that took place tonight.

This event failed in the sense that Fr. Shanley did very little talking. Instead, he was an active listener in a seminar-type atmosphere, only speaking when being directly called out by students. But this was also a good thing; this event was successful in that it gave students the opportunity to interact with administrators and voice their opinions in a professional way. In fact, much of the time was spent asking students for their suggestions on how the administration can make this campus more equipped to handle the issue of diversity. Here are mine:

-Add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” into the non-discrimination policy of both students and faculty members.

-Require Safe Space training of all students, faculty members, and administrators (I stole this one from fellow writer Matt Smith, but I wholeheartedly agree with it)

-Train security guards about the dangers of racial profiling and stereotyping, and how to avoid these issues. Moreover, if the problem persists, hold those responsible accountable for their actions.

-Diversify the theology department to include classes about different religions and cultures. Furthermore, allow these classes to counts towards our theology requirements.

-Require service learning in all classes that will satisfy the diversity requirement of the new core curriculum. Learning about an issue and experiencing it firsthand are two completely different things. It would allow PC students to get more involved within the city of Providence, while subsequently opening their eyes to new perspectives.

-Emphasize the fact that diversity goes beyond skin color. PC will not truly become more diverse until starts reaching out students of lower socioeconomic backgrounds, different geographical regions of the country, and who do not self identify as Catholic.

-Publicly announce your views via email, especially during a time of controversy. Unfortunately, most students have not read the newly revised mission statement or the strategic plan. Email is the best way to reach most of the constituents.

-Continue to provide events like this one, along with the “First Friar Forum on Diversity,” in which students can voice their opinions to the administration.

-Keep the Development of Western Civilization Program, but challenge the currents of Western intellectual history with a more diverse array of western and non-western perspectives. Currently, the program seems more interested in developing graduating classes of Catholic apologists than well rounded thinkers.

I have always found it interesting that Fr. Shanley’s self-proclaimed number-one concern is currently “finding a name to put on the school of business.” As the President of our College, he ought donations from alumni to increase our endowment. But the truth is that with the current marginalization of specific groups of people on this campus, it may be the case that graduating students are less inclined to give back to the school as long as it continues its backwardness. Certainly, this applies to myself. This dinner was a small step in the right direction, and I look forward to seeing administrators get “down and dirty” over the summer to fix these problems.

Terrorism is Terrorism. Drop the Subtext.

NickDefaultNick Wallace ’14

I have not felt strongly patriotic in a long time. With the continued discrimination against minority groups here at home and the continued use of drone attacks that target civilians in Pakistan, it is sometimes hard to be. But this past week has given everybody, including myself, a chance to be a bit more patriotic than usual.

A week ago today, I was receiving text message updates on my phone indicating the speed at which my roommate was running the Boston Marathon (He flew through the race in under three hours, by the way). I was checking my phone periodically through the morning, hoping to see if my roommate was keeping the pace he had hoped to maintain throughout the race. The race finished, and I immediately texted my good friend to congratulate him on fulfilling a lifelong dream. Little did I know how much chaos would soon ensue.

I will not recap that horrific day, as I am sure all of us will always remember where we were when we first found out that a bombing had taken place at the Boston Marathon. As a native New Yorker, I remember as a child watching the morning news with my family before boarding the bus to go to school on September 11, 2001. I remember some of my peers being pulled out of class and told that they were going to be picked up from school early. I remember one particular classmate asking our teacher powerlessly if her father, who worked in New York City, was going to be okay. As I watched the news with my friends last Monday, the same feelings of confusion and vulnerability sunk in as I contacted friends to see if they were safe and heard my other roommate (a Boston native) frantically try and contact his family members.

But similarly strong was the sense of pride I felt while watching the Red Sox defeat the Royals 4-3 this past Saturday in their first home game since the Marathon. It was the same pride felt the day following the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Danny Nava’s homerun was reminiscent of that of Mike Piazza’s on September 21, 2001. In both instances, something as common sporting event was able to bring the city together in a time of need. It is safe to say that the nation was cheering for Boston in that baseball game, and that the win for the Red Sox was for the entire city.

But as we as a nation rally behind our flag following this tragic attack, it is important not to isolate certain members of our community. It was almost surreal how quickly the mass media tied the bomber’s religion to this entire incident. While watching CNN, one news analyst reported that Tsarnaev had just recently become a U.S. citizen on September 11, 2012, and was speculating whether the suspect had purposely chosen the date as a symbolic representation in the name of Islam. Truth be told, nobody chooses the day he/she becomes a citizen in the United States.

Similarly, the word “terrorist” was quickly applied to the Boston bombers. I do not wish to suggest that these men were not terrorists; their acts confirm that they indeed were. But let us be careful about associating the word terrorism with specific groups of people. Note well that terrorist organizations exist across the globe and identify under a diversity of religious denominations. The actions of the Ku Klux Klan, for example, can be considered terrorism. I do not think many rational people can argue that the lynching of innocent human beings can be considered anything but acts of terror. Furthermore, the Ku Klux Klan often cited Christian doctrine for committing such crimes in the first place, and attempted to maintain the traditional social ordering that existed in the United States. But by no means are all Christians associated with the Ku Klux Klan.

Likewise, The Lord’s Resistance Army, formerly led by Joseph Kony, operates in Uganda, South Sudan, and the DRC. The group characterizes itself as a fundamentalist Christian movement, and yet has been responsible for widespread human rights violations including murder, rape, child slavery, abduction, and mutilation. It is safe to say that like the Ku Klux Klan, not all Christians are associated with the Lord’s Resistance Army.

And there is the Westboro Baptist Church…. have I made my point?

Unfortunately, Arabs and Muslims are disproportionately depicted in the American mass media as extremists, terrorists, and villains. Action packed movies often contain violent Muslim extremists who are wreaking havoc, while white Americans are the ones to restore order. Even cartoons that Americans deem acceptable for children contain discriminatory undertones. A perfect example is Aladdin, which is considered a Disney classic. In the movie, the lighter skinned protagonists, Aladdin and Jasmine, have westernized facial features and Anglo-American accents. This is in contrast to the other characters, which are dark-skinned, bloodthirsty, and villainous. They are cruel palace guards or greedy merchants with Arabic accents and grotesque facial features. Moreover, the movie’s opening song sets the tone:

“Oh, I come from a land, from a faraway place, where the caravan camels roam, where they cut off your ear if they don‘t like your face, It‘s barbaric, but hey, it‘s home.”

Clearly, the Disney movie Aladdin encompasses racial and religious discriminatory undertones. But this movie is just one example. All across the board (including MSNBC, Fox, and everything in between) Muslims are disproportionally depicted in a negative light. The following statistics show the consequences of this one-sided media coverage:

-48 % of Americans believe that torturing suspected terrorists is often or sometimes justified.

-39 % of Americans believe Muslims living in America are not loyal to America

-More than 1/3 of Americans believe Muslims living in the US are sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

-Nearly ¼ of Americans say that would “not like to have a Muslim as a neighbor.”

(USA Today Gallup Poll 2008)

What is alarming is that the one-sided media coverage that exists leads to fear. As stated in the documentary The Mean World Syndrome, “this type of fear and condemnation of entire groups of people seems to be less based on our actual relationships with people and more on our relationship with media.” Without positive depictions to counteract the negatives, the most extreme members of minority groups are allowed to stand out above the rest, creating a distorted and menacing depiction that leaves viewers feeling “under attack.”

Let’s not make the same mistakes we have previously made in regards to racial profiling and religious discrimination. Do not assume, by any means, the ridiculous assertion that all Muslims are terrorists or sympathetic to terrorist. These Boston Bombers do not represent the views of either their nation or their religion. Whether or not they acted alone, or within a larger group, these people represent an extremely miniscule minority of people; they are certainly not in the majority.