RIC hosts forum addressing foster youth

Aaron Isaac-Anchor Staff

In 2016 nearly 3,000 children were victims of abuse or neglect. Today, over 1,600 children are either living in a group home, a foster home or living with a non-relative. The Rhode Island Department of Children Youth and Development (DCYF) works to match families with children who need care and a stable environment. DCYF held a panel, Publick Occurrences, at Rhode Island College on Oct. 11 to discuss ways in which the organization can address problems that arise when working with foster families and unadopted children.

The Providence Journal recently highlighted DCYF’s problems regarding abuse and mistreatment in group homes as well as poor leadership within the organization. Retired DCYF worker Susan Morris explained, “There is no one magic solution to fixing DCYF, multiple solutions must be applied.”

Photo courtesy of Aaron Isaac

Dean of the RIC School of Social Work, Sue Perlmutter, stressed the importance of developing a better trained staff. Michelle Sanders, a panel participant who grew up in foster care, added that more information must be available to foster parents in order to help them and their adopted children.

During the question and answer segment of the seminar, DCYF Director Trista Piccola bitterly said, “we still have forty percent of our kids living in congregate homes who should be living with a family,” and she has worked to search for and support those families. Bruce Perreault, who also grew up foster care, emphasized that families need support systems from DCYF and other foster families in order to be successful.

The audience seemed to enjoy the forum and left feeling more positive than they had going in. Rhode Island College Student Kenneth Forsyth-Sears asked what DCYF is doing to support kids in the system who are within the LGBTQ+ community. The Executive Director of Kids Count, Elizabeth Burke Bryant, pointed out that the “incidence of mental health issues, suicides and other horrible outcomes are much more prevalent for LGBTQ youth,” and expressed that foster care communities are doing their best to assist them.

As a foster child and a transgender youth, the discussion hit home for Sears. Sears explained that some foster youth children “see no hope. They see no light at the end of the tunnel because people aren’t trying hard enough or just aren’t understanding.” Sears wants to see better training of DCYF staff because while “There are some people who don’t know anything about the LGBTQ community but want to help, there are some who don’t like the LGBTQ community and aren’t open minded.” An emphasis in training in tolerance and being able to support kids would be best because these are the kids who need it the most.

The Publick Occurrences forum was an opportunity for people like Sears to bring these systemic flaws to the forefront in hopes of positive change. Going forward, we will have to see if DCYF can take the important points made in the discussion to improve the essential work the organization is doing, and implement changes to address its failings.

RIC awarded $1.1 Million McNair Scholarship

Calli Renovato-Anchor Staff

Dr. Ronald Erwin McNair was inspired to work hard and persevere in his studies by a teacher who recognized his extraordinary scientific aptitude. An expert in laser physics, a sixth-degree black belt and the second African American to fly in space, McNair achieved much in the short time he was given.

Following his death on the Challenger mission, members of Congress decided to create a grant for low-income, first-generation students to go for their doctorate. 161 institutions in America are awarded this scholarship, and Rhode Island College is one of the few and proud.

RIC has been awarded a $1.1 million federal grant to prepare students for graduate school who are the first in their families to earn a college degree. The money will be distributed over five years.

According to their website, Congress’ goal “was to encourage low-income and first-generation college students and students from historically underrepresented ethnic groups to expand their educational opportunities by enrolling in a Ph.D. program and ultimately pursue an academic career. This program is dedicated to the high standards of achievement inspired by Dr. McNair’s life.”

Photo courtesy of cap.uconn.edu

RIC has 35 nationally-recognized graduate programs and 13 graduate certificate programs. Graduate students do have different financial aid benefits which can help them, including scholarships, assistantships, traineeships, student loan programs and a need-based financial aid. Most of these options require being a full-time student, and some also include working for the school for a stipend.

Along with the RIC faculty, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and U.S. Congressmen David Cicilline and RIC Alum Jim Langevin all expressed their happiness on Reed’s website earlier this month.

“As an RIC alum, I’m thrilled this $1.1 million grant will provide students from all backgrounds with preparation and guidance before they move on to earn an advanced degree. The students who will benefit from this program are bright, motivated and hard-working, and they deserve the chance to accomplish their academic goals. I’m proud that the McNair grant will help make this possible.”

To see if you qualify for the McNair scholarship, you can check at the Financial Aid office. To see what RIC has to offer for grad school, you can attend their annual open house on Jan. 9, 2018 from 3:30-6:30 p.m.

From our archives

Catherine Enos-Opinions Editor

In these times of political divisiveness, it’s hard to imagine a time in which people were even more divided. In this article published in 1969, however, it’s easy to see that politics has always gotten people fired up.

Photo courtesy of Rhode Island College

In the article, a vigilant student tried to warn others about an upcoming organization called “S.D.S.,” without mentioning what the abbreviation actually stood for. In newspapers, according to the Associated Press (A.P.) stylebook (which was first published in the 1950s), writers are always supposed to state what an abbreviation stands for – this person didn’t bother. It is possible that the writer didn’t want people to look into the club, since they had already deemed it a “satanic menace” for readers. Another possibility is that “S.D.S.” was so notorious on campus as the time that everyone would know what acronym referred to on its own.

Upon research into S.D.S., it most likely stands for “Students for a Democratic Society.” The writer claimed that the organization had forced its “sneaky and cunning” members to commit arson, bribery and even perform hypnosis. The writer also claimed they advocated for such “ludicrous things as birth control, peace and social equality.”

What the writer says about the goals of the organization (peace, for example) seem quite contrary to the means (arson, for example) they used to achieve those goals. Perhaps the writer exaggerated or embellished the truth of the operations of the club.

This article, in some strange way, can possibly give us hope. The 1950s and 1960s were politically divisive times, but they eventually ended. Though the differences of opinion in contemporary political culture seem to be irreconcilable, previous cycles of politics show us that one day, our current divides may mend.

Explore the global classroom with Field Work Ecuador

Lucille DiNaro-News Editor

For those who seek something a bit more fulfilling while obtaining their degree than the annual term paper and loathsome group projects, look no further. As mid semester passes and we approach the spring enrollment period, consider Field Work Ecuador: a four credit pre-spring course in which students travel to Ecuador and engage in service learning projects.

Photo courtesy of Allison Barry

Run by Jill Harrison of the Justice Studies Department and Maria Lawrence of the Elementary Education Department, Field Work Ecuador is open to all students looking to step out of their comfort zone and dedicate their time to helping others. Students dedicate their time throughout the community in various relief shelters and orphanages such as Fundacion Henry Davis, which they have partnered with for the past two years.

Located in Conocoto, Ecuador, a suburb outside the capital of Quito, Fundacion Henry Davis serves over 100 children. Composed of 18 houses sitting at the bottom of the compound, each house includes a house mamita and the ten children she cares for. RIC students have the opportunity to lend a hand and provide a sense of normalcy for children who have otherwise suffered from abuse and abandonment.

Allison Barry, a senior at RIC who has taken the course in the past, has been deeply moved by the experience. So much so, that she and three others that attended the course last winter were compelled to establish the Roots Project, which fundraises in order to ensure sustainability for orphanages internationally through agricultural projects and educational development programs.  

Barry stressed that the goals of the Roots Project and Field Work Ecuador are not to impose on the community, but work with them to improve quality of life. “We made a whole hydroponics lab indoors out of soda bottles, zip ties, tape, anything they had, so that they can continue the process after we leave. That’s their home, they take pride in that. We work alongside them to get things done.” For more information regarding the Roots Project and to donate, visit rootsecuador.org. The Roots Project is actively fundraising throughout the month of November to apply for a grant to continue their efforts abroad.

The course is open to around 25 students, and can be enrolled in pending a written application and brief interview with Dr. Harrison. Students carry the cost of housing and meals throughout the trip, but this is paid directly to the compound and is around $20 USD per day.

While service learning and journal entries are required components of the course, students have the choice to venture out on excursions that include ziplining, eating local cuisine and exploring the country on your own.

The first informational meeting for the course is set for Oct. 25, but interest must be expressed to Dr. Harrison prior to attendance. For more information regarding the course and enrollment, please contact jharrison@ric.edu or mlawrence@ric.edu.

Letter to the Editor

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

To the Editor:

When we stay silent, domestic violence thrives. With 1 in 4 Rhode Islanders experiencing domestic violence in their lifetimes, and nearly 1 in 10 Rhode Island high schoolers reporting they have already experienced physical dating violence, we all know loved ones, neighbors, and friends who will be or have been impacted by abuse.

This October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), and we are calling on our communities to break the silence. Each of us must make it our business to speak up when we see or hear something troubling and to have conversations with friends, family, colleagues, youth and others in our lives. Whether it be in our workplaces, schools, places of worship or other community spaces, we can support survivors and their children by raising awareness of the issue and creating environments that do not tolerate domestic violence.

There are many ways to get involved this October. Attend one of the many events throughout the state to support local domestic violence agencies who are dedicated to serving victims and their children each and every day. Support the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) in the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge. Like and share our social media posts, and talk to your family and friends about healthy relationships and the warning signs of abuse.

If we each make a commitment to help end domestic violence, just think about the collective impact we can have! No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. Visit www.nomoreri.org and follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/ricadv) to learn more. Together, we can build a safer, more peaceful Rhode Island. No more silence!

 

Sincerely,

 

Deborah DeBare

Executive Director

The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

 

What’s next for Senator Miller?

Calli Renovato-Anchor Staff

State Senator Josh Miller (D-Cranston) holds many titles within the state, but will he soon be Rhode Island’s National Committeeman?

What’s next for Senator Miller?

On Sep. 28 Miller submitted a bid for the position that has been open since Frank Montanaro Sr.’s death back in late August. The R.I. Democratic Party plans on electing the next Democratic National Committeeman on October 15th, in Miller’s District of Cranston.

According to Rhode Island Public Radio, Miller expressed that Democrats are in need of a committeeman who has “the small business and working class perspective and that this should be a priority when representing Rhode Island Democrats.”

If elected, it would add to Miller’s already long resumé. Miller is a restaurant owner, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, a member of the Senate Committee on Environment & Agriculture and was the Democratic Caucus Policy Chair for the Rhode Island Senate in 2016. Miller is a strong advocate for quality healthcare at an affordable price. He also promotes timely issues that the current national government is working against, such as renewable energy, conservation and sensible gun safety bills.

Miller is an advocate for legalizing marijuana as well. In a letter to his “District 28 Neighbors,” posted on Miller’s website, he says “I believe that the best marijuana policy is to take it off the dangerous black market. By taxing and strictly regulating marijuana sales, we can better keep it out of the hands of children and can utilize the new resources available for treatment and prevention programs.”

One of Miller’s competitors is former Mayor of Providence Joseph Paolino Jr. Paolino served as mayor between 1984 and 1991 and was both preceded and succeeded by the late Vincent “Buddy” Cianci Jr. He was also appointed as the United States Ambassador to Malta by former President Bill Clinton from June 9, 1994 to June 2, 1996. Paolino currently is a real estate developer who, back in January, bought the old St. Joseph’s Hospital with plans to turn it into 140 apartments for the homeless.

Paolino has the support of the House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello which seems to give him the advantage, but Miller’s penchant for bold stances on hot-button issues is what makes him a true contender.

Miller and Paolino fight for the position at the next R.I. Democrats meeting on Oct. 15 at the Portuguese American Club in Cranston.

Tragedy strikes in Las Vegas

Jacob Cotter-Asst. News Editor

Shortly after 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 1, the United States watched in horror as one of the deadliest attacks in its history unfolded in Las Vegas, NV. This is the most violent shooting on record, with 59 deaths, and around 500 injured. The shooting was directed at the crowd of an open-air concert, which was a part of the Route 91 Harvest Festival.

According to CNN, the concert was interrupted around 10:08 p.m. by the sound of gunfire, and people immediately rushed to get to safety. The gunman fired from a window on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel at the crowd, which was several hundred feet away.

The shooting began during a performance by Jason Aldean and, according to police, lasted roughly 9 to 11 minutes. The shooter has been identified by authorities as Stephen Paddock, a retired Nevada resident from the town of Mesquite. Paddock was a former accountant and had been twice divorced. He had no children.

When police arrived at suite 32135, they fell under fire from Paddock, who was inside. The officers decided to wait until SWAT arrived to confront Paddock. Once the hotel room was breached, officers found Paddock dead of an apparent suicide. He is believed to have been working alone.

23 weapons were found in Paddock’s room, some of which had scopes. In addition, ammonium nitrate was found in Paddock’s car. While searching his home, authorities found 19 more firearms, several hundred rounds, explosives and “electronic devices,” as described by police.

Investigators believe the weapons to have been purchased legally; a factor which has again stirred up national debate over gun control legislation. Paddock modified his weapons using a “bump stock,” an attachment which can speed up the fire rate of semi-automatic weapon to the point of a standard machine gun. Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline has proposed a bill in response to the massacre, titled the “Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act”.

The Act prevents the sale, import, distribution, manufacture and ownership of any attachments or otherwise modified weapons. As of Friday Oct. 5, 160 members of the House of Representatives have voiced support for the bill. The Bill is even supported by the National Rifle Association, which is generally against firearm legislature.

All of this comes shortly after President Trump’s decision to repeal the legislature put forth by President Obama that prevents citizens ruled as “mentally defective” under the Social Security Act from purchasing firearms. Regardless of political position, this tragedy will doubtless renew debate over the correct response to gun violence.

Our nation has once again faced a harrowing act of violence and it, as is American tradition, will hopefully serve as opportunity to unite our thinking and actions toward the common goal of self-betterment. Anyone able and willing is encouraged to donate blood in support of those still suffering in Las Vegas. Everyone’s hearts and minds will surely be with them in this difficult time.

RIC hosts forum on Race and Society

Aaron Isaac-Anchor Staff

Imagine you are in class discussing the recent Las Vegas shooting and someone says, “if the shooter were black or Muslim, the conversation would be completely different.” In that moment, would you feel comfortable talking about race and society? Judith McDonnell, a sociology professor at Bryant University, found herself in this exact situation. For McDonnell, the class went dead silent, and that silence spoke volumes. Following this experience, McDonnell was motivated to push her students out of their comfort zone concerning race. This past Wednesday, Rhode Island College offered McDonnell exactly the arena she was looking for.

McDonnell was one of 6 people invited to speak at last Wednesday’s campus Forum on Race and Society event in Alger Hall. Sponsored by Open Books-Open Minds, the forum was based loosely around the book Between the World and Me, a personal narrative of Ta-Nehisi Coates and his struggles as a black man in America. Coates’ book resonated deeply with the event speakers, described as a thrill, yet “painfully honest and honestly painful” by Professor Shawn Christian of Wheaton College. Victor Capellan, Superintendent of Central Falls, felt uncomfortable reading it because it challenged him “personally and professionally.”     

Photos by Aaron Isaac

The forum concentrated on the experiences of people who have been and are currently being discriminated against. Those who often don’t have a voice or whose voice is not listened to. Vanessa Flores-Maldonado, another forum speaker, emphasized this by mentioning that we all need to hear different perspectives on these issues. If we do not bother to listen to those who have been discriminated against, then we are not able to truly understand their struggle

Marco McWilliams, a practitioner at Brown University, drew attention to ongoing discrimination, asking the audience “Do you know how many times I’ve had to tell people, hey, Puerto Ricans are Americans too?” McWilliams challenged audience members to take a hard look at the institutions that not only attacked colored people by keeping them down economically, psychologically or even violently, but also at institutions that protect people who abuse, harass and otherwise discriminate against others.

The final speaker, Len Cabral, is a renowned storyteller. He was affected by the Rodney King beating in the early 90s when he saw it on tv.

“Those beatings are still going on,” Cabral said bluntly. He mentioned the young black people who might see those kinds of injustices and mistreatments, saying “if the fire in young men is not recognized, it will burn down the village”. Cabral believes citizens should acknowledge and temper this fire by trying to understand one another, as the only way to save the proverbial “village” is to deal with the actual fire.

The forum was part of RIC’s Diversity Week and an ongoing discussion about race and society on campus. The next event sponsored by Open Books-Open Minds will be a student forum on Nov. 15 from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fortes Room located within the Adams Library. Students can also email the Unity Center to reserve a seat for the Defamation Experience, a live courtroom drama that addresses race, religion, gender and class, which will take place on Oct. 30 in the Gaige Hall Auditorium.

Congress called to action in the fight against opioid abuse

Lucille DiNaro-News Editor

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and 38 other State Attorneys General called upon members of Congress last week in an attempt to highlight the importance of passing the “Road to Recovery” Act. The letter, submitted on Oct. 2 to congressional leaders including Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy, stresses the importance of passing HR 2938 in its second congressional bid after failing to pass it in the Senate in 2016.

Graphic by Timothy Boutsady

Rhode Islanders are not unaffected by the growing opioid crisis. Preliminary data from the Rhode Island Department of Health states that 268 Rhode Island residents have suffered accidental drug-related overdose deaths within the past twelve months, 169 of which involved fentanyl.

The “Road to Recovery” act was introduced in the House on June 20 but has yet to come to a vote. Meanwhile, local efforts to combat drug abuse and assist in rehabilitation have picked up steam. The City of Providence installed the first of several NaloxBoxes in City Hall on Oct. 3. The NaloxBox is a wall mounted kit with four doses of naloxone, or narcan, a known treatment for opiate overdose. In conjunction with the installation of the NaloxBox, the City of Providence provided 45 minute training sessions that educated city employees in the administration of the drug and how to recognize the signs of an overdose.

The NaloxBox, designed by Dr. Geoff Capraro of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Claudia Rébola of the Rhode Island School of Design, is a relatively new concept that confronts the opioid crisis head on. Similar to a first aid kit, the purpose of these boxes is to have naloxone available in case of an emergency, and to make citizens feel comfortable enough to take lifesaving action.

While there are options available to drug users who wish to seek help, existing legislation limits treatment options and recovery time. The standing Medical Institutions for Mental Disease exclusion removes medical coverage for patients between the ages of 22 and 64 who are in substance use disorder treatment and residential mental health facilities exceeding 16 beds. HR 2938 hopes to loosen restrictions surrounding drug treatment while still protecting constituents in mental health institutions from inhumane practices.

Graphic by Timothy Boutsady

While the “Road to Recovery” Act is deliberated, those in need of assistance in battling drug abuse can seek help at Amos House, located at 460 Pine Street in Providence, and the Lifespan Recovery Center at 200 Corliss St in Providence, which has the capacity to treat up to 650 individuals. If you prefer to remain anonymous, the Opiate Hotline is available 24 hours a day at 888-654-9717.

Relieving Our Neighbors: Rhode Island aids Puerto Rico

Calli Renovato-Anchor Staff

Rhode Island’s Puerto Rican community continues to collect donations after suffering multiple hurricanes, the most recent being Hurricane Maria.

While the death count may be low, many on the small island are left without basic necessities such as water, electricity and food. This catastrophe has not only affected the island, but also Puerto Rican community at large, including the community in Providence and here at Rhode Island College. Many in this community have not yet reestablished contact with their friends and family, even following the installation of hotlines.

Rhode Island Democrats sent out a press release declaring a need to help the island. “There is an urgent need to rescue people and restore lives and property in Puerto Rico, in the aftermath of two of the harshest hurricanes ever,” said Rhode Island Democratic Party Chair Joseph M. McNamara. He goes on to say that,“our many friends and extended family members in that region will need emergency aid as quickly as possible; and to help that recovery process, we are urging Rhode Islanders to support the extraordinary efforts of the American Red Cross as they tackle what seems like an endless string of devastating storms.”

Rebecca Flores and Lydia Perez, both having family in Puerto Rico, are determined to help the island. Flores is the founder and president of the local non-profit The Natasha Love Foundation and Perez is the Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Institute for the Arts and Advocacy. They have collected everything from toiletries to medical supplies at a local drive. Missed it? They are still collecting monetary donations in the form of checks or money orders to be made payable to The Natasha Love Foundation, P.O. Box 8902, Cranston, RI 02920.

Among the many helping, the Rhode Island National Guard sent an aircraft full of water, ready-to-eat food and even Lester Holt and his news team down to Puerto Rico.

Graphic by Timothy Boutsady

At a national level, President Donald Trump made his way to Puerto Rico this past week after previously criticizing the its people. He began the visit by comparing it to Katrina, saying Maria wasn’t a real catastrophe. Between saying “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico – you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack…,” telling a family left without power to “have a good time” and playing basketball with paper towels, the visit has been highly criticized. Trump, however, returned to the White House with the stated goal of wiping out Puerto Rico’s debt; a move which would certainly ease the long recovery phase they will surely endure.

Our state may be small, but we are always taking strides to do what matters most: helping fellow Americans. Want to help out? The American Red Cross is always looking for blood donations and volunteers. Find out more at redcross.org.