Campus Climate Survey Q&A

Tim Caplan –News Editor

From March 19 to April 19 students at RIC have the opportunity to take part in the Campus Climate Survey. Vice President of Community, Equity and Diversity Anna Cano Morales sat down with the Anchor on Friday, March 22 to explain the survey in detail in hopes of familiarizing the student body, faculty and staff with the specifics of it.

The Anchor: What is the Campus Climate Survey?

Anna Cano Morales: The Campus Climate Survey is a comprehensive, first-ever survey of its kind that is being administered by Dr. Susan Rankin and Dr. Emil Cunningham with Rankin and Associates. They have been working with the Campus Climate Working Group, which is made up of a diverse membership from across the [RIC] campus. It’s a survey that really measures how people experience and feel while they are either students, staff or faculty here. It’s really for everything that happens at 600 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Rhode Island College: How are we doing? How do we feel? Do we feel engaged, embraced, affirmed? Do we feel threatened, harmed, excluded? It’s really taking the temperature of the campus community.

Whose decision was it to bring this to RIC?

Ultimately it was my decision, but it was made in consultation and with unanimous support from the president and the rest of the administration. The National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) lists conducting campus climate surveys under their tenants of “Best Practices” to really hear from everyone on your campus about how things are happening.

How do you feel this survey will affect the campus climate of RIC?

Well first we need to ask questions, right? We’re information gathering, we’re doing as much listening as we possibly can. I can say as a former student here that this is new, culturally to RIC. The fact that we are asking questions about how people feel in particular programs, how they feel about working or living here if they’re a dorm resident, how they feel interacting with their campus police or the faculty and administration. It’s important because we start to gather this information and make some actual plans that we can jump into as soon as the survey is over. One of the things that Dr. Susan Rankin and Associates promised us is that this will be a transparent process, that the results will be actionable, and that we were going to be using an instrument that was very much tailored to RIC. This isn’t an off-the-shelf, cookie cutter, sort of 500 pages of downloaded copyrighted tool. When people say someone “wrote the book” on something, well, Susan Rankin pretty much wrote the book on campus culture in the United States, so we’re extremely lucky to be able to work with her, and at the same time very privileged to create our own home grown product.

Can you walk us through the process of the survey for those who don’t know?

Everyone received an email from the office of the president through their RIC account on Tuesday, March 19. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. The survey is now in a link that is on a server that is not at RIC, so it is 100 percent confidential and anonymous, the information is not shared at all with any of the administration. All of the information goes straight to a server at the University of Pennsylvania which is managed by Rankin and Associates. The survey takes about 15 to 20 minutes. The really big important question is the first one, which is “Who are you?” are you a student, are you part-time or full-time, are you a faculty member or staff?… Once you identify who you are, then the questions will be generated accordingly. There is also an open ended section after almost every series of questions to just type whatever you want, whether you think a question was stupid or irrelevant or “by the way I have alot to say about this issue and here’s what i want to say…We’re going to be doing incentives to take the survey which you can sign up for like gear giveaways, tickets to sports event, lunch at a local restaurant with President Sanchez…we also have a paper and pencil option if people feel like they want to do that instead of using a computer, Rachel Greenleaf in the Office of the Provost has those…there also will be computer lab space open across campus to take the survey in Human Recources as well as other computer labs that will be available to anyone who doesn’t have computer access.

When do you think you’ll have all of the information back from Rankin & Associates?

The survey will close April 19, giving participants 30 days… we will get preliminary themes in the early summer, I would say the end of May. Then there will be a series of community forums where the entire report will be delivered to this campus. One thing that’s very important to note is that before we entered into our contractual agreement with Susan Rankin, she had a very direct conversation with President Sanchez and myself in which she said that she only works in institutions with presidents that allow the results to be shared with the community before the presidents see the results. We will all see the results at the same time, and if the president does not agree to that, she won’t work with that institution.

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about the campus climate survey?

Just that I hope every single person will take 15 to 20 minutes to take it. The survey just went live on the 19th and so far enthusiasm is palpable…I’m very grateful to faculty and students who are using their own leadership positions to facilitate the taking of the survey, mentioning it in classes or clubs…Industry says we need 30 percent of students to take it for the results to be valid so we really want our participation rate to be competitive because we really want to compare our results to other peer institutions, so if it’s not we won’t have access to that other generalizable information.

An Interview with Country Music Child Star and “The Voice” runner-up, Billy Gilman

Esther Watrous –A&E Staff

Rhode Island born child star, Billy Gilman, rose to fame as a country music artist and later gained spotlight in the American television show “The Voice,” winning runner-up in 2016. Gilman was born in Westerly, Rhode Island and now pursues a singing career in Los Angeles, California.

The Anchor: What was it like being signed at 12 years old to Sony Music, and what overall impact did it have on you?

Billy Gilman: It was insane. I never thought in a million years that it would happen quite that fast. Of course, I couldn’t process it at 12 years old as properly as I can process it now. It was kind of kryptonite in a way, but the positive thing about it is if you have talent, it will always rise to the top. If you were a child star because of the gimmick, and then you couldn’t rise above that gimmick, then you’re in trouble.

The Anchor: I read that you were the youngest artist ever to have a top 40 single on the “Billboard Hot Country Songs.” is that still true?

Billy Gilman: I think it still holds true. It was number one for seven weeks.

The Anchor: What did that feel like at the time?

Billy Gilman: I couldn’t tell you. I knew I was always in awe about what was going on, but I can’t truthfully remember certain moments. I think I was totally in it for the music and not for the accolades, even back then.

The Anchor: Did coming out as gay impact your career as an artist?

Billy Gilman: My career had to go through a shift. That was very difficult because I was trying to make it in country music and it just wasn’t happening. After I came out, my team came to me and said, “Well, we never knew if you were or not so we weren’t going to bring it up to you. But you have no idea of the stigma of, is he gay or is he not gay? It just circles around your name all the time in this town, and people just don’t want to deal with it.” I just thought that was so abrasive because I have so many great country songs that I have written that will probably never see the light of day just because they don’t want that module on their radios. I had to let my fans know that I hit a roadblock, not because of my talents or my ability, but because of people’s inability to see hearts and not just dollar signs.  

The anchor: What have the ripple effects been since appearing on “The Voice” in 2016 and winning Runner-up?

Billy Gilman: Oh it’s been such a resurgence. Some of the songs I did on the show, the singles, they went to number one. I’ve recorded some wonderful songs with some great artists. It’s been nothing but positive. Again, you have to fight to show the world that you’re more than what they just saw on television.      

The Anchor: If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would you say?

Billy Gilman: Push harder. I should have pushed harder. Of course I wouldn’t have known then, being a kid. I should have made my voice be known a lot louder to my whole team.

The Anchor:  In 2017, you were honored by the Rhode Island Senate and the House of Representatives for representing Rhode Island as an artist. What was it like being honored by the state for your success?

Billy Gilman: It’s crazy. I have such a long way to go and so much more to prove. I only hope that I can continue to make the state more proud. There’s nothing greater in me than being a Rhode Islander and being a singer.

What’s new on Netflix: Love, Death + Robots

Alec Ematrudo –A&E Editor

I’ll be the first to admit that the magic of cartoons and animation has generally been lost on me in my teenage years, and now early twenties. I hadn’t really felt the urge to watch anything that wasn’t live action. However, that all changed when the trailer to Netflix’s “Love, Death, + Robots” came across my phone screen.

Graphic Courtesy of Rolling Stone

This show, which premiered a week and a half ago, is an eighteen episode anthology series edited in different styles of animation. Some of the short episodes are made with photo-realistic CGI, and other episodes are designed in a traditional hand-drawn style.

“LD+R” is one of the most enjoyable television experiences I’ve had in the last year or so. Each episode is drastically different and all feature heavy uses of violence, nudity, and some genuinely good humor. The very first episode is a science-fiction story that uses incredibly realistic imagery and without spoiling anything, sets the tone for the rest of the series.

The show itself comes from the minds of two well known filmmakers, David Fincher and Tim Miller. Miller’s resume is significantly smaller than Fincher’s but most people will know him as the director of “Deadpool 1.” His style and humor is spread throughout the series. Fincher is known for films such as “Se7en,” “Gone Girl,” “Zodiac,” and “The Social Network.” These two filmmaker’s involvement really added an extra level of refinement to each short.

As an aside, and maybe just as exciting (at least within the RIC community) is that one of the episodes comes from RIC’s own Claudine Griggs. Griggs is a writing professor and director of the Writing Center here at RIC, and her writing has certainly paid off. The episode, titled “Helping Hands,” is based off her original short story, and though definitely short, is really memorable for its shocking ending and incredible CGI effect. If not sold already, perhaps this is another reason to give the show a go.

The show hasn’t been renewed for a second season yet but I’m not sure it needs one. This series could remain a one season cult classic, but there’s definitely room for more Love, Death, + Robots.

“Captain Marvel” tops the box office charts

Britt Donahue –Photo Editor

The latest highly anticipated addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been topping the box office since its March 8 release, and it’s easy to see why. “Captain Marvel,” the first female-led MCU film, is an exciting adventure that introduces new heroes and villains alongside some familiar faces.

The movie begins on the Kree planet, Hala, where our hero, played by Brie Larson, goes by the name Vers and suffers from memory loss, nightmares, and an inability to control her emotions and superpowers (according to her mentor and commanding officer, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law)). During a failed rescue mission, Vers is captured by the Skrulls, the Kree’s shape-shifting enemy and their attempt to extract a memory bring her forgotten human past to light.      

From here on, most of the film takes place on Earth, where it is clear by Vers’ crash-landing through the roof of a Blockbuster, that viewers are catching a delightful glimpse of the MCU’s past; it is before the formation of Nick Fury’s Avengers Initiative and 23 years prior to the events of “Avengers: Infinity War.” Viewers even get to meet a younger Agent Fury when he teams up with this strangely dressed woman from another planet to help her uncover her mysterious past.

This movie suffers from a lot of the same problems of previous origin movies. A lot of information has to be packed into a fairly short amount of time. It has to walk the line of satisfying long-time fans of the comics while making sure new audience members don’t get lost.

Just like Chris Evans and Hemsworth in their origin movies, Brie Larson hasn’t quite found the character yet and feels a little stiff and awkward during some scenes. But she really shines when she is able to play off her co-stars Samuel L. Jackson, and especially Lashana Lynch who plays her best friend and co-pilot, Maria Rambeau. Maria and her daughter Monica (Akira Akbar) are her family who thought she was dead. Through reuniting with them, she remembers her real name is Carol Danvers, and is able to step up and become a real hero.

Carol’s story is resonating with a lot of people, especially women. We watch Carol struggle with sexism,  and feelings of inadequacy. She doesn’t always trust herself. Part of her journey is literally learning who she is, what she is capable of, and freeing herself from the limitations others try to place on her. One of my favorite things about the comic book version of “Captain Marvel” is that no matter how hard she falls, she always gets back up again and this trait is carried over spectacularly into the movie.

“Captain Marvel” is a great addition to the MCU. It maintains the humor and fun that its previous films are known for while expanding the universe’s history. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you do before Carol returns to Earth on Apr. 26, to save the Avengers and the world.

In response to Hollywood’s College Admission scandal

Alexis Rapoza –Anchor Staff

Graphic Courtesy of Page Six

In season one of “Desperate Housewives,” Felicity Huffman’s character, Lynette Scavo, desperately wants her twin sons to be admitted to an elite private school; she says “A generous donation will ensure our kids beat ‘em out.” The amount of that generous donation? Fifteen thousand dollars.

So why exactly does this matter? Felicity Huffman was recently one of 50 people charged in bribing college admission counselors and coaches in order for their children to gain admission to top schools. Ironically, Felicity Huffman paid an SAT prep teacher $15,000 to correct her daughter’s answers on the test and aid her in completing her college entrance exam. I guess sometimes life really does imitate art.

So why do I, a Rhode Island College student, care about what happens at colleges that I don’t even attend? The answer is simple: Felicity Huffman and the other 49 people charged in this scandal are examples of the privileges people in the top 10 percent have over those of us who don’t have the ability to pay off coaches and admissions officers.

Children of celebrities and people born into money are at birth assigned certain privileges that inevitably provide them with several advantages. At a young age, they have access to elite elementary and high schools and highly qualified private tutors, as well as built in connections with whichever career field their family members are in. To be honest, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

I think using the opportunities and resources provided to you is excellent, but what I don’t think is fair is when people like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin use money and bribery to secure their child’s luxurious education. Lori Loughlin allegedly paid the rowing coach at the University of Southern California $50,000 to designate her two daughters as “recruits” to the rowing team even though neither of them had ever rowed before. Loughlin’s daughters took two spots away from students who could’ve potentially gained admission to USC and rowed for the team. Those two spots could’ve been filled by someone who actually rowed rather than someone who proudly stated that they “don’t really even care about school.”

This college admission scandal shines a light on how unfair college admissions truly are. People with money and of high social status are almost guaranteed admission to top schools, while low and middle class students are staying up all night studying for the SATs and are rejected not because of their capability, but because of a rich person’s bribe.

College enrollment rates are rising and this scandal leads me to wonder if higher education is truly that — education, or if it’s a business disguising itself as education. Recently I discovered that USC’s motto is “PALMAM QUI MERUIT FERAT” which translates to “let whoever earns the palm bear it.”

I have to wonder if some of the students there earn it, or did they pay for it? Let’s ask Aunt Becky.

Considering Atheism (Part 2)

This article is a continuation of the argument made in our March 4 issue.  

Victor Martelle – Technology Director

Atheists are those who are primarily unconvinced of the justification for faith. These proposed justifications come in claims as evidence and arguments, and in hopes of answering the why question, I will attempt to address the more popular ones I’ve come across from an atheistic perspective.

The first matter I will take aim at is that of not knowing. There are many unknowns in science, for example, we don’t know what precisely sparked life on this planet. It then goes that God must have done it. By that standard, I could equally proclaim a unicorn twirled its tail and poof – out came the universe. Not knowing is the most correct answer we have to these questions and with the advancement of science, I’m confident we’ll find a naturalistic answer to these, as we always have.

Other arguments I often hear is that there is evidence for a god. This usually takes the form of prophecy, personal experience, and internet inquiry. Prophecy is found by almost all religions, many of which, when interpreted a certain way, could be viewed as correct. I emphasize “interpreted,” as prophecies aren’t usually explicit. Even if a fulfilled prophecy were to be unambiguous, does this prove the religion is correct, and how does this show a god exists?

Personal experience and internet inquiry are similar. If you look online for evidence of God (internet inquiry), you’d find many results of people seemingly experiencing a godly possession in a church or a religious leader performing healing. You may have even experienced some of these first hand. None of this however, is generally accepted as credible evidence. According to neuroscience, we know the brain can experience hallucinations and episodes depending on the circumstance. Not surprisingly, then, is that these possessions occur in many religions.

Healing the sick is also shared by various religions and often chalked up by skeptics as short-term placebos. Even if a person had healing abilities, why aren’t they putting it to the test of science or going to hospitals healing the sick?

There are also many other arguments to consider, and if you’ve felt I misrepresented one or I need to consider another, let me know! And if you are still confused as to why atheists are atheist, I will end with a quote from Stephen Roberts, “When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

Graphic courtesy of Seb Agresti

Is Tik Tok the new Vine?

Catherine Enos –Opinions editor

Vine was easily the greatest thing to happen to internet humor. The 6-second video format produced some surprisingly hilarious and viral memes that are still around today (if you search “Vine compilations” on YouTube, there are thousands of multi-million viewed videos). It was different from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or any social media platform. And then, at the end of 2016, Twitter (who had acquired Vine in 2012) decided to shut the app down. It was a blow to internet humor. Memes obviously still proliferate on social media, but there was something unique about these quick, creative and niche memes that Vine pushed out.

Musical.ly was another app known for short videos but it was mostly odd hand-dancing or lip syncing videos (and was the laughing stock of the internet). But something happened a year and a half after Vine shut down. Musical.ly was bought by another nearly-identical platform called Tik Tok. The app was steered towards a different direction– closer to humor and further away from the lip-syncing.

Today, the app is vastly different from what it was just a few years ago and closer to Vine. It offers a longer video time at 60 seconds, but the videos people make tend to be shorter. It can create some Vine-like video loops, while also allowing people to tell longer jokes.

It also has some features that Vine didn’t have– like being able to use another Tik Tok user’s audio over an original video, or allowing “duets” (a feature where a user films their video next to another video). The algorithm is a little different than Vine, too. On Vine, you could scroll for a while on the trending page, but you’d eventually reach an end. On Tik Tok, you can scroll for hours and still keep watching.

With all this being said, Vine set the foundation for apps like Tik Tok. It may have had its problems, but there was more originality. Tik Tok tends to be more “trendy” with people repeating and recreating the same exact meme (while still being funny). Vine would start off with a meme and people put their own spin on it (I’m thinking of all the “what are those?” spinoff Vines: an exasperated grandma replying “these are my crocs!” and Jurassic Park dinosaurs wearing shoes).

So, is Tik Tok the new Vine? The answer is no. Tik Tok is Tik Tok. But the only reason Tik Tok exists is because it has the foundation that Vine had set for it. Either way, both apps are great (or were great, in Vine’s case) and provide somewhere between seconds and hours of entertainment.

Back to Three Credits

Alison Macbeth –Assistant Opinions Editor

Most of us don’t realize that RIC’s four credit course system is not the norm for American colleges. Several years ago, RIC adopted this method as a solution that allowed people to graduate on time. However, this may not support quality education for all RIC students.

A majority of colleges have a three credit system which meets three times a week for a 50 minute session. Students typically take five classes and upon completion would receive 15 credits a semester. The University of Rhode Island and Brown use this credit system. RIC used to have a majority of three credit classes for many years before switching to our current four credit class.

Four credit classes run twice a week for 1 hour and 50 minutes. Technically, professors are supposed to give a ten minute break in the middle (that doesn’t always happen). Those who advocated for the 4 credit system believed that this schedule would be a better fit for RIC students’ work calendars and busy lives. This system allows students to complete requirements more quickly, by locking down sixteen credits a semester.

However, RIC students are losing out on the opportunity to expand their research and understanding with the five classes. Simply, RIC students are exposed to less topics and courses that are important to a liberal arts education. Four credit classes leave a student with approximately 32 course topics at graduation while a three credit system gives a graduate about 40 courses in an eight semester plan.

Similarly, although the 1 hour and 50 minute structure seems comparable,  the class is often the same in content as a three credit course. Therefore, students are jipped from the depth of their education with a wide spectrum of topics.

Although we might be in it too deep to change the system back to four credits, it is worth thinking about the ramifications of this plan, and develop ways to counteract these effects. Ensuring that professors are teaching four credits worth of material is an important first step along with quality experiential learning to engage students for the longer class period.

Accessibility for the typical RIC student’s schedule is important; however, quality education is equally important. Many other universities prescribe the three credit system and so it should be vital for the RIC administration to reevaluate if four credit classes serve the mission and excellence of RIC students.

Truly Young at Heart

Thomas Yakey Jr. –Anchor Staff

This past Tuesday night, the Young@Heart Chorus gave a fantastic and energetic concert at Rhode Island College. The Performing Arts Series at our school brings professional groups to RIC for enjoyment of the school, as well as the community as a whole. Young@Heart is a group of senior singers, ranging in age from 73 to 92, who come together to sing and live life to the fullest.  

The group has travelled internationally from Europe to Japan and has made various appearances ranging from “The Ellen Show” to “The Daily Show.  They even have their own documentary which has been on PBS and Netflix.  They continue to perform at dozens of schools and universities, as well as retirement and community centers around the world. Young@Heart was even in E*TRADE’s Super Bowl ad, “This Is Getting Old.”

The chorus has been around for 37 years, and they will likely continue to be around for many to come.  The group comes from all various backgrounds ranging from an opera singer to a school secretary. They come with their own band and perform different music for all musical tastes.  

Along with Young@Heart, we were lucky to have The Green Sisters as special guests to accompany them. In addition, our own RIC choir had the privilege of singing two songs with these musical greats.

The concert ended with “Forever Young,” something that describes the choir in great detail, despite being only two words. Proving age to be just a number, they shared their amazing talents and put on a great concert that made all smile.

The long road to school: Commuter students frustrated with driving to, and parking at RIC

Tim Caplan –News Editor

In 2018, the non-profit national transportation research group TRIP ranked Providence roads as being America’s ninth worst in urban areas with a population of 500,000 people or more. TRIP claimed that 46 percent of Providence roads were in poor condition as of October.

According to RIC.edu, 85 percent of students who attend Rhode Island College are commuters. The Anchor set out last week to find out how commuters felt about traveling to school and the effect that these roads have on their cars.

“I worry at least once a week about my car while driving into school,” said commuter Josh Dibastiani.

Photo Courtesy of Sam Scetta

Perla Torres and Aria Nirandone are two commuters who come by way of Mount Pleasant Avenue. They both spoke of serious concerns with the amount of potholes in the streets when coming to RIC. “Sometimes I take the bus because at this point I want no more problems [driving],” said Torres.

The Mt. Pleasant route to RIC was not the only one in which students expressed dissatisfaction.  Kim Hout makes his commute from Cranston to Johnston and vice versa. “Coming and leaving construction sites are especially [problematic] right now,” said Hout. “When there’s potholes they don’t fill them until they finish everything [at the site] and when they fill its not complete, and tires that are more flat tend to consume more gas mileage”.

While the roads leading into the college were the primary concern of commuters, several people also conveyed disappointment in the maintenance of roads on campus.

“When it snows, they don’t plow right away, the cars slip and hit curbs,” said Tabatha Karlowicz, a student at RIC, “also the sand is unnecessary, and they don’t clean it up when the snow is gone, and snowbanks take up spots to park in.”

The Anchor found at least four different spots in lots J and K which had snow banks that either partially or fully obstructed parking.