TO THE EDITOR:
I write to take issue with your editorial (“Courage and Truth,” 4/6/18 edition) which focuses on recent events at Providence College. There are many nuances to this situation.
In the editorial’s second paragraph, the writer states that our student “had to be moved to a different location by campus security for his own safety,” implying that there was no choice other than to move him for fear he would be in harm’s way. Whenever an incident occurs in one of our residence halls involving a conflict between students, the College always offers other residential options. In this case, our campus security officers asked the student if he wanted to move to another residence hall. When the student said yes, we arranged for him to do so. (The student returned to his original residence hall the next day.)
Your third paragraph states that “there was no immediate response (from College administrators) to defend this young man, except from a...letter by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin...” This is inaccurate. The College immediately launched an investigation in an attempt to learn who was responsible for harassing the student and vandalizing his bulletin board. As noted, we offered to move the student to another residence hall. Two vice presidents (Student Affairs and Mission & Ministry) met with the student on the first available day after his reporting the incident in an attempt to support him. (The College was on Spring Break the previous week.) The student also met with one of the College chaplains. In addition, the President of the College sent two messages to the campus community about the matter, the latter of which clearly explained that the College supported (and always would support) Catholic teaching on the subject of marriage, and decried negative behavior directed toward the student.
I think it is important to note that Bishop Tobin’s letter also made it quite clear that he supported PC President Father Shanley, and acknowledged the fine line that Father Shanley has to walk to keep peace on our campus while ensuring the free expression of many voices and viewpoints.
I am a bit surprised and more than a little dismayed that the Rhode Island Catholic would choose to editorialize about this complicated matter without calling the College for comment or seeking additional information apart from what had been reported via other media.
Steven J. Maurano, Associate Vice President,Public Affairs, Government & Community Relations