From the archives

Catherine Enos – Opinions Editor

These archived articles are from the November 27 and December 4 issues of The Anchor.

In 1968, the only forum in which you could publicly argue with another person was the editorial section of a newspaper. Imagine if your petty Facebook arguments were printed out for everyone to see, and archived––this is exactly what it was like. And the evidence is in the Fall 1968 issues of The Anchor.

There were not one, but two ongoing arguments within the editorials. The other pair of articles that make up an argument (not the articles shown here) were really just a professor’s rebuttal to a previous editorial, in which he calls “most” people on campus “inconsiderate slobs.”

Professors calling students “inconsiderate slobs” may be funny in retrospect, but the articles I decided to take a look at this week were maybe more relevant. It provides for us a snapshot in time to see how much has really changed in 50 years. Specifically, women’s rights.

For the RIC community (P. Blodgett was a visitor to RIC), the Blodgett article elicited a collection of witty, borderline-offensive editorials. In a different editorial, author Paul Dulude responded, “Another reference made concerning a ‘hick barn dance’ leaves me wordless… judging by your letter, you seem to be the authority on the subject so I will refrain from further comment.” Another (and perhaps less offensive) response from Donald Puretz tells Blodgett that her opinion, like his own, is irrelevant, since what women wear is “irrelevant to this educational process.”

It seems as if the RIC community was pretty progressive on letting women wear pants. For context, a few years earlier, the policy to allow women to wear Bermuda shorts was adopted.

It’s interesting to follow in the archives what the “hot button” topic of the day was. It’s weird to think, however, that just 50 years ago, women wearing pants on campus was one of these “hot button” topics.

RIC awards Antoinette Gomes with Presidential Medal

Charlotte Abotsi – Senior Copy Editor

Often enough, a college is tasked with the duty of saying thank you and farewell to a retiring member of its community. On Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, Rhode Island College (RIC) did just that, expressing gratitude and goodbyes to a longtime member of the RIC community, The Unity Center director, Antoinette Gomes. Gomes was given the high honor of being a recipient of the Presidential Medal, given by RIC’s own President Frank Sanchez.

The event was held in the Amica Lounge at Alex and Ani Hall, and it was full of people celebrating Gomes’ service and dedication to RIC.

Photos courtesy of Thomas Crudale

Antoinette Gomes announced her forthcoming retirement at the end of Spring semester this year.

Gomes has been a presence in the RIC community over the span of 30 years. Her resume boasts many positions in Student Life. Gomes began her career at RIC serving as an Upward Bound program counselor in 1987. She was also the Student Support Services Counselor for the Preparatory Enrollment Program. Later, she was the Interim Director of Student Life, which culminated in her appointment as the Unity Center Director in 2010. She has worn many hats here at RIC, and she takes pride in it. “I am most proud of the support that I have offered to some of the most vulnerable students in higher education. They are often the first in their families to attend college; they often have meager financial resources; some have been in state custody in some way or another; some are genderqueer. They are black and brown and white. They are a bunch of other stuff, like determined, sensitive, deserving, intelligent, awake, aware, valuable,” she said.

During her time at RIC, she has cultivated conversations on diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion. When asked of what fuels her to do this work she says “I didn’t really choose this work; this work chose me. I think part of that is just circumstantial. I’m born a woman in America, I am born a black woman in America and born into a family who valued education. It became clear to me really early in my life, that some folks had advantages and privileges that gave them a leg up in life, that other folks didn’t and I was one of those other folks. I feel passionate about equity.”

At the start of the ceremony, Anna Cano Morales, the Associate Vice President Community Equity and Diversity at RIC welcomed attendees. Chris Susi, RIC’s LGBTQIA Office Coordinator was a student on the search committee for Gomes’ position 10 years ago. Susi addressed the crowd, saying, “In her decades on this campus… her characteristics have driven her work to make RIC and the world a better place every day.”

After Susi’s speech came a student staff testimonial from an eloquently weepy Emelia Orellana, ’20, who started off her speech with “if I start crying, I truly apologize.” She cried. Then the entire room joined her in tears as she recounted “When I first walked into The Unity Center…I had no idea that I had walked into the office of a woman that was going to change my life… There are so many hearts that have been touched in the same way, and a lot of these hearts are in this room today.”

Indeed, there were. Past Unity Center alums and current students filled the room and kept it lively cheering and snapping their fingers whenever someone said something in praise of Gomes. Orellana then introduced a tribute video in which students, past and present, recorded emotional messages of gratitude to the honoree of the evening.

President Sanchez took to the podium to award Gomes the Presidential Medal. Sanchez “I can’t think of a more deserving recipient to honor with the Presidential Medal.” Sanchez reminded the audience, “Over the last couple of years, we have selectively given out the Presidential Medal for a very specific purpose. It’s to recognize and acknowledge excellence through impact. What Antoinette has done, has allowed us to build the foundation for these critical conversations about community, about people coming together, in a time I think is more important than ever.”

Antoinette Gomes is only the third person to receive the Presidential Medal under President Sanchez. Former RIC Vice President of Academic Affairs Ron Pitt, who was in attendance, and Jane Williams, the former Dean of the School of Nursing are the two other recipients of the medal.

Antoinette Gomes’ accolades expand on the aforementioned milestones. President Sanchez made sure the audience was aware that her service to RIC was undeniable. The plaque that cemented her medal listed every accomplishment Gomes achieved at RIC. Sanchez recognized her long service as standing chair of the Dialogue and Diversity Committee from 2010-2017, and how she founded The Unity Center Foundation, a fund to help students in need. Every finite success Gomes conquered was listed, and the crowd cheered for each one.

With the Presidential Medal still fresh on her neck, Gomes remarked “I really can’t tell you how good it feels for the recognition of how important and valuable this work is here on our campus…I’m not really a person who needs public display to validate my passion and effort on behalf of equity, inclusion in higher education.”

Gomes shared her vision for The Unity Center and RIC, “Our commitment is to promote a campus climate that is supportive, and welcoming, and safe for everybody. And by ‘our’ commitment, I mean all of us…Everybody is accountable for the custody of this campus.”

Gomes assured the audience that the new Unity Center director is not just filling her shoes. “The point is not to have somebody that can fill my shoes, my shoes are worn and we need a new pair. We need a new pair that will take this leadership on a new pathway.”

Big shake-ups across the nation as Dems regain House, GOP strengthens lead in Senate

Tim Caplan – News Editor

The 2018 United States midterms elections commenced last Tuesday, and marked one of the most expensive, highest voter turnout rated elections in American history.

According to OpenSecrets.com, the Democrats and Republicans raised over $1.5 billion for their house congressional candidates’ races and $964 million for the Senate races. Texas progressive Democratic Senate candidate, Beto O’Rourke, alone raised over $70 million for his race against conservative Republican Senator Ted Cruz who has served as Senator from Texas since 2013.

According to exit polls from NBC News, Fox News and CN, the primary issues that constituents voted for were as follows: immigration, healthcare, the economy, and approval or disapproval for President Trump.

The big story coming out of Tuesday night was that the Democratic Party had taken a majority control of the House of Representatives. Every one of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives was up for election on Nov 6. As of Friday, Nov. 9, the Democrats have gained 30 seats.

Some congressional districts that flipped parties this election were Texas 7, Texas 32, Pennsylvania 17, New York 19 and New York 11. The Democrats previously held the minority in the House with 193 representatives to the GOP’s (Grand Old Party) 235. Now the Democratic Party holds the majority with at least 226 representatives to the Republicans’ 200+ (at least 13 races are still too close to call).

Photo courtesy of BBC

These elections produced historic results. Sharice Davids won Kansas’ 3rd congressional district, the former MMA fighter will be the first Native American woman to serve in Congress. Rashida Tlaib from Michigan’s 13th district and Ilhan Omar from Minnesota’s 5th district were elected and will serve as the first ever Muslim women in congress.

However, their wins have both been marred by accusations of antisemitism by several members of different Jewish communities across America. Tlaib’s endorsement by J Street (a Jewish-American PAC for peace in the middle-east) was withdrawn earlier this year stating “We cannot endorse candidates who conclude that they can no longer publicly express unequivocal support for a two-state solution and other core principles to which our organization is dedicated.” Tlaib supports the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement which has also been accused of antisemitism by numerous groups across the world. Steve King was re-elected to Iowa’s 4th district, but King has been accused by the Washington Post and the Anti-Defamation League of antisemitism as well.

The 116th U.S. Congress marks the first congress since 2011 in which Democrats had majority.

While the Democratic Party made strong gains in the House, the Republicans’ lead in the senate was only widened. The Republicans now have at least 51 seats in the Senate to the  Democrats’ 46.

The Arizona race between Kyrsten Senima and Martha McSally has been tightly contested, as it has still not been called, but Senima seems to be in the lead according to AZCentral.com. The Florida race between incumbent Senator Bill Nelson and former Florida (FL) Governor Rick Scott has also not been called, as an unspecified number of ballots in Broward County and Palm Beach County had still not been counted by the end of election night.

FL Senator Marco Rubio told the media that he believes something suspicious is going on, stating on Twitter that “ Last early votes had to be counted by Sunday and submitted by Tuesday, that’s the law.” He also stated his concern that Broward County election official Brenda Snipes refused to say how many votes had yet to be counted.

Snipes has a history of controversy. According to the Sun-Sentinal in 2004, she had to send over 50 thousand ballots to absentee voters despite claiming that they had already been sent out. In 2016, a federal judge ruled that she had violated election law by destroying ballots too early that were in relation to a lawsuit against her at the time. Rubio said of the situation “Here we are, 72 hours from the end of voting, 5 days from the end of early voting, and we still have massive vote counts going on, apparently, in Palm Beach and Broward counties. To this point there’s been no public disclosure of how many votes are in their possession and how many do we have to count. It’s an outrage.”

Despite the controversies, the big questions are clear. Republicans kept the Senate, the Democrats took the House, and Americans are just as politically divided as they were in the 2016 election.

12 dead in California shooting tragedy

Sean Richer – Anchor Staff

The latest tragedy amid the American mass-shooting epidemic happened at a country dance club and bar in Thousand Oaks, California this past Thursday night. The suspected gunman, identified as Ian David Long, opened fire on the crowd with a legally purchased Glock 21 .45 caliber handgun modified with an illegal extended magazine that changed the round capacity from 10 to 26. The rampage took the lives of 12 people and wounded 18 more.

Among the victims was Sheriff Sergeant Ron Helus, who gave his life defending the patrons as one of the first responders to the attack. The gunman was found dead in a back room of the venue by way of gunshot. It is suspected that he killed himself with the aforementioned handgun.

Long was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Afghanistan and had run-ins with law enforcement officials in the past. After investigating a disturbance at his home where he was acting irrationally and aggressively, mental health officials cleared him and deemed that he did not require counseling or other services. He was then residing with his mother who called the police after his breakdown.

According to local sources, he used to frequent the Borderline Bar and Grill, the site where the calamity occured.

Less than 24 hours after the attack, thousands of local residents raised their hands at a candlelight vigil dedicated to the victims and their families. There were over 2,000 attendees at the Borderline Bar and Grill, all singing “Amazing Grace” as religious and community leaders consoled the mourning masses. Mayor Rob McCoy described it as, “The first step in a long healing process.”

Among the attendees were survivors of the Las Vegas shooting, one of whom was Dani Merrill who said, “It’s hard to sleep after these things…You just don’t know how to feel.” A second vigil was held the night after.

President Trump extended his condolences to the people of Thousand Oaks in a tweet that read, “Great bravery shown by police…God bless all the victims and families of the victims. Thank you to law enforcement.”

In the wake of this tragedy, several of the victims’ family members have spoken out for change. Susan-Schmidt Orfanos, the mother of a Las Vegas shooting survivor and later Borderline shooting victim called out for stricter gun control exclaiming, “I don’t want anymore prayers, I want gun control, no more guns.”

What to take away from the Rhode Island Midterm Elections

Erica Clark – Assist. News Editor

The Republican Party took a hard loss as Gina Raimondo won her second term as governor of Rhode Island this midterm election.

This was Allan Fung’s second bid for governor, and his second race against Raimondo.  

Raimondo ended up taking almost 53 percent of the vote, beating Fung by nearly 15 points.

There was an estimate of 373,000 votes Tuesday. This is the second-biggest midterm election turnout in the history of Rhode Island, and the Democrats repped the benefits.

For more than 80 years the GOP has struggled in Rhode Island and it shows with the results of Allan Fung’s campaign.  

 Fung managed to gain around 21,000 additional votes since last election, but Raimondo had three times as many. Fung’s share of the vote was a estimated 37.2 percent, just one percent higher than his election in 2013. A hindrance in Fung’s campaign for Rhode Island voters was Raimondo’s job rates and his support for President Trump.

Even though every Rhode Island ballot won the Democratic vote, the neighboring state of Massachusetts took the Republican Gubernatorial win in the form of incumbent Charlie Baker.

Fung still remains the most highly ranked Republican in Rhode Island, he promised at his concession speech to “be the voice on issues statewide.”

Sheldon Whitehouse, Democratic U.S. Senator, won the election to serve a third term.

Whitehouse debarred Republican nominee Bob Flanders, a Rhode Island attorney who served as an Associate Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court from 1996 to 2004.

Rhode Island Republicans will continue to face the hard question of getting elected in the blue of Rhode Island.

As both political parties fought hard, history was made in East Providence as former state representative Roberto DaSilva won the midterm election on Tuesday as the first Mayor of East Providence.  DaSilva, a Pawtucket police captain and one time state legislature, took 52.1 percent of the vote and his opponent, lawyer James Russo, took 47.1 percent.

Residents voted in 2016 over the topic of the city’s government and it was clear the city wanted a “strong mayor” just like Providence, Warwick, and other main cities in Rhode Island.

Jorge Elorza, who was elected in 2014 as Mayor of Providence, was re-elected and will serve another four years. Elorza defeated Dianne “Dee Dee” Witman, whom Elorza said in an interview with WPRI 12, “the city should have more people like her.”

Elorza and Witman disagreed over how best to improve Providence’s pension system.  This system, which was just 25 percent funded as of June 30, 2017, claims of revenue in the city’s water supply throughout a lease deal with a quasi-public agency he claims could generate more than $300 million for the fund.  

Elorza said in an interview with WPRI that “I would like to make Providence the best mid size city in the country by the end of my next four years in office.”

Environmental justice activists speak out at RIC

Aaron Isaac – Anchor Staff

The day after the midterm elections, on Wednesday, Nov. 7, Rhode Island College held an Environmental Justice event to discuss environmental health risks for people. The event featured a panel made of Cristina Cabrera, the Executive Director of the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island, Daniel Faber, the Director of the Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative and Sociology Professor. The third person on the panel was also the keynote speaker, Mustafa Ali, a member of the Hip Hop Caucus and Senior Vice President of Climate, Environmental Justice and Community Revitalization.

Photo courtesy of Aaron Isaac

The panel, moderated by RIC Professor of Anthropology Peter Little, opened up with Ali talking about the environmental impact on disadvantaged communities. He presented a Native American hip hop video made to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline which received mass media attention in 2016. He emphasized how some Native American groups are still fighting the construction of the pipeline by tying themselves to construction equipment.

Ali asked “How many people in this room, in the last sixty seconds, have taken a breath of air?” Ali admits that “it sounds like a silly question but we also know that far too many people in this country can’t take a breath of clean air.” Ali pointed to the Manchester community in Houston, Texas, “mainly a working class Latino community, which has suffered from air pollution.”

Ali continued to talk about water quality, focusing on the Flint, Michigan crisis. Certain members of the community still suffer from lead poisoning as a result of drinking dirty water. “Lead does a whole lot of nasty things…it drops your IQ points, it messes with your kidneys and your liver.” Ali continued to criticize deregulation policies around lead and water, preferring instead to strengthen those government regulations.

“What you find in many instances is that these things end up in our most vulnerable communities, sometimes they are struggling to have a voice and push back and fight back against some of these impacts that are happening, we have to make a change.”

On the panel, Faber told people to work together for the environment stating, “you have to become engaged in collective action, you do certain things as individuals to protect yourself, but to effect real change we have to become engaged in movements.”

The key to enhancing the environment for Faber was to “reclaim our democracy” he says and to put power in the hands of the people who will be impacted by environmental damages.

Cabrera wanted to emphasize that while technology is important in solving the problem, people are the key to solving the crisis. Cabrera said she believes the solution to environmental damages is “really need to be done by the people on the ground, they need to be the ones making the decisions.”

Suspicious religious group attempts recruitment on campus

Erica Clark – Assist. News Editor

Just after 8 p.m.this Wednesday, a call was sent to Rhode Island College about a suspicious group of individuals attempting to recruit people for their bible study.

Campus officers were unable to find the individuals matching the reported description Wednesday night, but have been keeping a lookout throughout campus perimeters.

Dean of Students  Dr. Tamika L. Wordlow-Williams, sent an e-mail the following day at 11:41 a.m. to the entire RIC community addressing the occurrence.

Dr. Wordlow’s statement went as follows, “Upon further investigation, there have been reports across the country and internationally about the “Mother of God” group being linked to a sex trafficking operation. These reports are unsubstantiated and appear to be something of an urban legend that has been spread online.” The statement is followed with two online links to summarize the claimed rumor of the religious cult.

As this door to door norm has been a vastly known occurrence since the 1990’s in relation with religious and cult related groups, there has been significantly more incidents in the past decade. This mishap was one out of dozens across the country that have been occurring in various libraries, grocery stores and public areas.

The name of this church is known as, “God the Mother,” a religious cult that is formally known as The World Mission Society Church of God (WMSC).

The WMSC community claims, “The biggest difference between our church and other churches is that we believe in God the Mother as well as God the Father. According to the prophecies of the Bible, God the Mother is to appear in the last age of redemption.”

This Church believes God is a real woman living in South Korea. They refer to her as “Mother God.”

Surprisingly enough, this woman living in South Korea has been claimed to be real.

WMSC was founded in 1964 by a man called Ahnsahnghong, whom members consider to be Christ. The church claims to have over two million members worldwide.  

Spokesman Victor Lozada stated, “A malicious rumor has spread throughout the community via multiple media outlets stating that our church is a cult involved in human trafficking, suggesting that the public should immediately report members of the church of God to local authorities.”

Former members say the group is anything but heavenly.

Because it is difficult to determine the authenticity of WMSC,  campus police are still advising the community to be careful of their surroundings and to not hesitate to report anything suspicious.

Pride Alliance demands action

Britt Donahue – Photo Editor

Editor’s note: The writer of this piece is an active member of the Pride Alliance and played a substantial role in organizing this event.

The Department of Health and Human Services, under the Trump Administration, is attempting to change the definitions of sex and gender, calling gender “a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.”

If the administration is successful, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals would lose the protections they gained under the Obama administration, which expanded Title IX protections against sex based discrimination to include people who do not identify with the sex or gender assigned to them at birth.

Since this announcement, the LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Intersex Asexual)  community and their allies have been vocal in their opposition to the new policy, with people around the country holding rallies and demonstrations to show their support for trans folks.

Rhode Island College’s Pride Alliance decided the best way to express their feelings on the issue was to write directly to Rhode Island’s state representatives, and ask them what they planned on doing to protect the trans community, and invited RIC students, faculty and staff to sign letters as well. No one has replied to the letters, but the politicians re-elected in the 2018 midterms do have a history of supporting LGBTQIA+ people, so the Pride Alliance is hopeful that their support will continue.

The Pride Alliance executive board: Carley Loiselle, Becca Banner,
Jess Fleming, Geovanni Velasquez, Jillian Sparaco

In 2017, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse added gender identity and sexual orientation to the list of protected classes under the Fair Housing Act. June 2018 saw the general assembly pass a law repealing the use of gay/trans panic defense when prosecuting hate crimes, becoming one of only three states to do so. At that time, the assembly also mandated that trans people have their correct gender marked on their death certificates. Governor Gina Raimondo signed both pieces of legislation into law in July and they took effect immediately.

The Pride Alliance is disappointed that they have not heard back from their legislators, but promises to make any answers they may receive public as soon as possible.

From the archives

Catherine Enos – Opinions editor

This archived article is from the October 31, 2006 issue of The Anchor.

There are few things that remain important throughout the years. Voting is one of those things. Even though 2006 may feel like a lifetime ago and a lot of things have changed, voting is still one of these important things.

2006 shared a few other things in common with 2018. Both are years in which America has a controversial president. Both years also happen to be midterm election years.

Although midterm elections include only some elected offices, midterms give people a chance to send a message to their elected officials. The message that was sent in 2006 was: change needs to happen. The change that happened occurred in both chambers of Congress––the House of Representatives and the Senate––lost their majority-Republican status.

As people living in the year 2018, we seem to think that we’ve been more divided than we’ve ever been and maybe that’s true. It’s arguable, however, that 2006 was a pretty partisan year for America, too. 2006 was just without the in-your-face politics of social media, that we are familiar with in 2018. But 2006 was not the end of the world. A few good things happened in the years to follow and it started with voting. Maybe this will happen in 2018, too.

Parcels of pipe bombs packaged and delivered to politicians

Alison Darmetko – Anchor Contributor

October 24 started like any other day, cool but not yet cold, and partially cloudy in Providence. That morning, thirteen improvised pipe bombs, which never went off, were sent via the public mail service to several high-profile individuals across the country.

Among the recipients were prominent names Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, and CNN headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. All of the named victims, and the others who received these explosive devices share a common trait of being very public and very critical in their opinions of President Trump.

These devices, which were constructed with PVC piping, batteries, and homemade shrapnel, were all designed following the same basic design and in identical packaging. With this in mind, as well as the common nature shared between all of the intended victims, the FBI was quick to conclude the devices were all the work of either a single individual or a small group.

Using the literary habits in the labels as well as tracing the origin of the bombs, the FBI was able to identify and locate the person responsible for these devices. The suspected man responsible, Cesar Sayoc, is a self-proclaimed Trump supporter with a prior history of making bomb threats.

After being arrested on Friday, Oct. 26, Sayoc made his first court appearance on Monday, Oct. 29. Currently, Sayoc faces the potential of up to 48 years of prison time from five separate charges in his attempted bombings. During the trial, it was revealed that his laptop had a list of over 100 elected officials and various other Trump critics who are believed to be his next targets. Sayoc had been planning these attacks since at least July, as several documents and searches regarding the personal addresses for Hillary Clinton are dated as far back as July 15.

Currently, his defense attorney is arguing that the charges are“flimsy” and that the government and media are unfairly trying him given the amount of media attention and coverage the case is receiving.

For now, we can only wait and watch as this trial unfolds.