Fired on the Hilltop: College Lays Off 13

Ruins of the Saint Anselm College Building after the devastating fire of February 18, 1892. (Photo from the Saint Anselm Archives)

As first reported in the New Hampshire Union Leader on Thursday, Saint Anselm College eliminated 13 positions Thursday morning, laying off people across campus. The College issued a written statement to the paper, claiming that the positions were eliminated in an attempt to brace for “upcoming financial challenges.”

One staff member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their own job, said that those fired were told early on Thursday morning and given little time before having to be off campus.

The Saint Anselm Crier reported on budget strains earlier this month. In that article, Chief of Staff Neil Levesque warned that budget cuts were imminent. There was no indication that some people would be laid off from their jobs. According to the Crier, “Levesque stated that the college had not made any decisions regarding staff, students, or faculty at the college for next year’s budget.”

Some of the people fired held positions that directly faced students. One was the administrative assistant in Campus Ministry. Service and Solidarity leader Emily Pierce ‘19 expressed dismay that she was let go. Responding to news that some of the employees fired were told to pack their belongings and leave campus immediately, Pierce said, “I went to this school for having values entirely opposite of that.”

Another was Vice President of Student Affairs Joe Horton ‘77. The student body has not yet been informed of the decision to relieve Dr. Horton. It is not yet clear how the college intends to restructure student affairs without a vice president to oversee it. Around two o’clock on Thursday afternoon, various deans and directors from the student affairs department were called into a meeting. A staff member, again speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their job, said that those in the meeting were told the school was facing a $1.6 million budget shortfall and that the Board of Trustees requested the college remedy the shortfall with $4 million in cuts.

In a written statement to The Hilltopper, the same one sent to the Union Leader, the college stated, “The college’s future is bright. However, based on long range financial projections, there was valid concern about the college’s current ability to meet upcoming financial challenges, and consensus that lowering our overall expense growth was critical.” It continued, “To achieve this important goal, in conjunction with the Board of Trustees, we engaged in a strategic and stringent financial review, encompassing policies, programs, and positions.” The statement did not include the specific numbers obtained by The Hilltopper.

On Friday morning, administrators, staff, faculty, and members of the monastic community gathered in the Dana Center to hear a prepared statement by President Steven DiSalvo.

According to detailed notes of the meeting taken by an attendee obtained by The Hilltopper, DiSalvo said the layoffs were part of the College’s “goal of building a long-term healthy and stable financial future.” He also maintained, “Our first priority is always to serve our students.”

He reportedly said that nothing could be taken for granted in the higher education marketplace. With this in mind, Saint Anselm College embarked on a financial review that resulted in a “targeted reduction of expenses” with the goal of ensuring financial stability through “operational efficiency.”

Even though at least one of those laid off was told to leave campus immediately upon packing her belongings, DiSalvo maintained that all 13 people who lost their jobs were “treated with dignity and respect.” He maintained that the Saint Anselm community was one that valued the work of our staff members and administrators “so deeply.” He said that he, too, was upset about the firings, but that the decisions were “necessary in order for Saint Anselm College to move forward.” According to a statement issued to The Hilltopper, those laid off received severance packages.

Uniformed campus security officers were waiting off stage for the president after his remarks. As he made his exit, one woman reportedly yelled, “Bullshit!” from the audience.

The full list of staff members laid off has not been released by the College, but several employees in the audience on Friday put together a list based on the people they knew had left. That list, obtained by The Hilltopper is: the Vice President of Human Resources and Administration, the Vice President of Student Affairs, an Associate Vice President who served as the college’s Title IX Coordinator, the Dana Center Director, the Conference and Events Services Coordinator, an executive assistant, the administrative assistant in Campus Ministry, the administrative assistant in the Communications Office, a switchboard operator, the Director of Media Relations, the Director of Institutional Research, and a cashier in the financial office. The list has been confirmed by multiple staff members at the college but there are conflicting reports about the final position that was eliminated.

Yes, Flint Still Exists; Yes, Their Water is Still Contaminated

As of April 24, 2018, Flint, Michigan has been three years without clean water. That’s 1,000 days without adequate water to shower, cook, or even drink.

Here’s a refresher on why:

In April of 2014, Flint officials decided to switch their water supplier in order to save money. While the new pipeline was under construction, water from the Flint River was channeled into the city.

In May, some residents noticed a strange discoloration, taste, and smell to their water.

In August, bacteria were discovered in Flint’s water. The response to this issue? A suggestion to boil the water before using it.

In October, the General Motors plant based in Flint said it would stop using the city’s water because of concern of corrosion. For cars. (Can you imagine what this does to the inside of a human?)

We enter 2015. In January, the Detroit Water and Sewage Department extended an offer to reconnect Flint to the Lake Huron water source. Flint officials declined because they were concerned about future costs.

In February 2015, the EPA tested Flint’s water and found dangerously high levels of lead. Long-term effects of lead poisoning include heart, kidney, and nerve disfunction, as well as cognitive, behavioral, and health issues in growing children. Other effects include a higher risk of cancer, birth defects, blood poisoning, miscarriages, and skin conditions.

Meanwhile, the governor, mayor, and other Flint officials continue to argue that the water is perfectly safe.

From September through October several rounds of testing proved the water was unsafe. Flint finally switched back to the Detroit water supply.

In November, residents filed a lawsuit against 14 state and city officials under the claim that they knowingly exposed citizens to toxic levels of lead.

In December, Flint declared a state of emergency.

As 2016 rolled around, then-President Obama declared a state of emergency for the city. This allowed FEMA to help supply water, filters, and other related materials. As the year continued, numerous city officials as well as the EPA and several corporations, are indicted on criminal charges for endangering lives. In April 2016, the water still tested positive for high levels of lead (this was in part because residents would have to use the water in order to flush out the contaminated water).

In February 2017, a report entitled “The Flint Water Crisis: Systematic Racism Through the Lens of Flint” was released. This document asserted that the decision to switch to an unknown water source in order to save money was at least in part due to the history of racism in the United States. Ask yourself: would this have occurred in a predominantly white community?

In March, it was announced that Michigan will pay to replace the corroded or contaminated water pipes.

In April of this year, the free bottled water program ended with the assurance that the water supply in Flint is now safe to drink.

Yet, if you ask any Flint resident, they will tell you that this issue is far from over. In addition to the effects of continued lead exposure, many residents have experienced an increase in diseases and internal bleeding. Listing the plethora of dangers Flint residents still face would take longer than this article has, so I implore you to please do your research, and if you are able, please donate here, or here, or here!

And if you can’t? Use your voice. Remind people that Flint still exists, as do so many other communities in the United States in the same situation. Water is a basic human right. There should be no “acceptable” level of lead or any other pollutant.

We joke about Polio Pit here at Saint Anselm. Imagine having to live with that—worse than that. Flint deserves our attention. Flint deserves to be heard. All marginalized and struggling communities deserve respect, and they deserve the most basic requirements of life.

Sound carries over water. We have water, so let’s make sure this message is heard loud and clear.

Photo taken from International Business Times.

College Dedicates Roger and Francine Jean Student Center Complex

Roger and Francine Jean (center) cut the ceremonial ribbon at the dedication of the new student center complex.

The night before Friday, May 4, 2018, the weather forecast predicted heavy rains and thunderstorms. However, as Roger Jean said in his address to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and benefactors, a healthy amount of Benedictine prayer kept the rain away as the Saint Anselm College community formally dedicated the new Roger and Francine Jean Student Center Complex.

Just moments before the dedication and ribbon cutting was set to begin, the fire alarm went off in the new Jean Complex. The false alarm gave the building the chance to showcase its innovative safety features, like fireproof curtains. “It was the coolest thing. I feel so safe here,” said Laura Reyes-Irizarry, the administrative assistant in the Campus Ministry office. Some speculated that burnt popcorn caused the false alarm. As the Goffstown Fire Department arrived on the scene, the event got underway.

President of the Board of Trustees Joanne Pietrini Smith welcomed the entire community to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, saying she was “emotional” as she arrived on campus and looked upon the new Jean Complex. Pietrini Smith said the new complex would do a lot to “strengthen the Anselmian living learning community.”

While students have been in the Jean Complex for weeks already, the formal dedication was an opportunity for benefactors to see the fruits of their donation. More than $8 million was donated to make the Roger and Francine Jean Student Center Complex possible. Pietrini Smith was quick to express her thanks to the Jeans and others who contributed to the new complex.

She was not misguided in expressing the thanks of students. In his remarks to the crowd, SGA President Joshua Hughes ‘20 articulated the student body’s excitement for the Gallo Café and the Pfeffer Lounge among the building’s other features. He also emphasized the importance of bringing various campus offices into the same physical space. “It is great to have these new amenities centralized together with our old favorites like the Meelia Center, Campus Ministry, the Father Jonathan Intercultural Center, and the Career Development Center,” Hughes said.

Jenna Baker ‘18 agreed with Hughes’ sentiment. “I am so excited for the future generations of Anselmians who will be able to experience the collaboration between different offices because I think that there is so much value in connecting programs that have to do with faith, community, academics, and student involvement,” she said.

Roger Jean addresses those assembled for the dedication and ribbon cutting.

Near the beginning of his remarks, Roger Jean turned to student services employees and students. “Welcome to your new home,” he said.

Jean, the former Executive Vice President of Liberty Mutual, and his wife, Francine, were the donors chiefly responsible for the new complex. In his remarks, Jean said the new complex was a “long needed addition to the college,” but emphasized the need for further campus developments and improvements to help Saint Anselm fulfill its mission.

In his remarks, Jean called Saint Anselm College “critical to the sound development of future generations.” “In the world that we now live in,” he continued, “it is imperative that we support institutions that, in this age of ever-increasing divisiveness, make it a central part of their mission to bring people together around core values and timeless moral principles.”

Before concluding his remarks with a call for current students and alumni to give back to the college, Jean made clear his preference for Dunkin’ Donuts coffee over the Gallo Café’s Starbucks coffee to the amusement and agreement of the crowd. Qualms about the coffee selection aside, students, faculty, and guests enjoyed the Gallo Café and the Jean Complex’s other offices and amenities for the remainder of the day.

Photos taken from Saint Anselm College.

School Gathers to Support LGBTQ+ Students

Juniors Jenna and Haley Lyons at the LGBTQ+ Day of Visibility. (Photo Courtesy of David Banach)

Homosexual, lesbian, queer, transgender, asexual, gay; these are just a few of the identities present within the Saint Anselm community. While these are identities, they are not definitions.

Last week, the Anselmian community took time for education surrounding the LGBTQ+ community. One event was a panel where five Saint Anselm students discussed their experiences of being identifying, which was followed by 75 minutes of questioning from the audience.

The panel was put on by the True Equality and Dignity Alliance (TEDA) and strived to abolish ignorance and facilitate healthy conversation. Within this panel, many misconceptions, stereotypes, and homophobic ideas where discussed and challenged. When asked about their experiences on this campus, many answers pointed to similar problems faced by identifying students.

While not specific to the Saint Anselm campus, there is a culture that can enable ignorance within students and the community as a whole. Some people on the panel pointed to words students use that have the ability to make a person feel small. The problem often goes overlooked, and that is why identifying students made an effort to convey the damage poorly-chosen words can do.

Some in the Saint Anselm community throw around terms that are derogatory and offensive without any thought for how they might affect a person who they are communicating with, or even just someone who overhears a conversation. Many students agreed that they have been hurt by words that fellow students and other members of the community have said, and they called on all students to do their best to change the culture.

An eye-opening discussion centered around allying with the LGBTQ+ community. Various speakers on the panel conveyed the importance of allies in speaking up when they feel uncomfortable with the words someone is using. They explained it is the responsibility of a good ally to step in and have an educational discussion surrounding the language used and the severe effects that it has.

An ally is not just someone who is an outsider that supports identifiers, but an ally can also be someone within the community; lesbian identifiers supporting asexual identifiers, for example, or transgender persons supporting gay identifiers. The feeling of support, as discussed in the panel, is important. It is important for the community to feel accepted, but those on the panel stressed the importance of avoiding a “savior complex.” Allies should remember that their role is to support, not to save.

This is why events such as Visibility Day, which took place on Thursday, April 26, are so important. Matt Soloman ’20 came up with the idea of Visibility Day on the Alumni Quad as a way to show identifiers and those who may not be comfortable coming out in the community that there are members of the Saint Anselm community that are there as a support.

Sophomore Matt Solomon addresses the crowd at the LGBTQ+ Visibility Day he organized. (Photo courtesy of David Banach)

When asked about why this day was important to Matt, he replied, “LGBTQ+ Visibility Day was an effort on my part to showcase the support for the community on campus Unfortunately, we usually only hear about those on campus who wish to de-legitimize our existence, because they are given platforms to do so.” He continued, “This event was an attempt to give all allies an extremely visible platform (right in front of Alumni) to show their support and let the community know they have an important place on the Hilltop.”

Sharing his own story, Matt continued by acknowledging the difficulties that he personally faced prior to coming out. “There are a lot of temptations to stay hidden and not accept who you are” he revealed. “I personally was in the closet for seven years until I finally decided to come out. Being stuck in a place like that is incredibly debilitating to mental health and is a degrading thing for any human to feel.” He used his experience to be of support to others who have gone, are going, or will go through a similar experience. The community support, like the support displayed at Visibility Day, is essential and is something that the Saint Anselm College community must come together around.

Matt called on the school and community to continue on this path and go even further, “It is the school’s responsibility to provide a safe environment for all Anselmians. While my event showcased great progress, there is still much more work to be done.”

Featured image courtesy of Haley Lyons ’20.

Students Uncomfortable with New Name of Multicultural Center

The inauguration of the Roger and Francine Jean Student Center Complex has come with a slew of renamings of campus offices to reflect the valued contributions of the many benefactors who made the new Complex possible. The most substantial renaming is that of the office previously known as the Multicultural Center.

As students began flocking to the building, some noticed that the office they affectionately knew as “Multi” was branded with a new name: the “Fr. Jonathan Center.” The full name of the center is the The Father Jonathan, O.S.B., Center for Intercultural Learning and Inclusion.

In an email to the school community, Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Ande Diaz explained the name change, “In 2013, donors honored Father Jonathan DeFelice O.S.B., ’69, whose groundbreaking work for diversity and inclusion as president of the college laid the foundation for the continued work of the center.” She continued, “We are blessed to have Father Jonathan’s continued support for our commitment to serving diverse students; and while the Center’s mission remains unchanged, the new name reflects a 21st century approach.” Her email also explained that the name of the new Intercultural Center was being shortened on some signage to the “Fr. Jonathan Center.”

As Dr. Diaz mentioned in her email, the full name of the former Multicultural Center has included Fr. Jonathan’s name since 2013. Previous signage and on-campus references to the Center did not refer to it as the “Fr. Jonathan Center,” however.

The new abbreviated name reflects the work of the former president of the college, Jonathan DeFelice O.S.B. ‘69. When he served as president, Fr. Jonathan helped to spearhead efforts for diversity and inclusion on campus.

President Emeritus Fr. Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B. ’69, for whom the new Intercultural Center is named. (Photo taken from Saint Anselm College)

In a written statement to The Hilltopper, Fr. Jonathan explained the importance of the Intercultural Center, saying, “The Center for Intercultural Learning and Inclusion is the result of a great deal of thinking and planning on how to best implement the call of Catholic Social teaching concerning reaching out to all.” He called the center a “tangible way of exercising Benedictine hospitality.”

Sheila Ramirez ‘18, who frequents the Fr. Jonathan Center, explained that Director of the Fr. Jonathan Center Wayne Currie and Dr. Diaz informed her of the name change, citing recent donations made to the center. “The donors chose to give towards the multicultural center to honor the legacy of Father Jonathan who was a beloved president of the college and the founder of the multicultural center,” Ramirez explained. She went on, “At the end of the day, Saint Anselm College is a business and the renaming of the center is up to those who have the most money.”

Ramirez’s experience, however, was atypical. Gabriel Lopez ‘20 said, “Initially, we weren’t told anything about the name change until we saw the plaques on the walls and questioned it ourselves.” According to Lopez, Director Currie explained the name change to the students who are involved in the Fr. Jonathan Center after they discovered the change.

While understanding the realities of the renaming process, Ramirez voiced concerns about the new name, specifically the decision to abbreviate the name to the Fr. Jonathan Center as opposed to the Intercultural Center. “I believe advertising the multicultural center as the Father Jonathan center does not correlate with the mission of the multicultural center.” Citing the center’s emphasis on inclusivity, Ramirez does not believe that the abbreviated name should reflect one individual.

She was quick to point out that Fr. Jonathan’s legacy should be honored by the center, however, and she seemed appreciative of Fr. Jonathan’s work on behalf of inclusivity and diversity. “Should we honor the legacy of Father Jonathan? Of course. A sign that speaks in depth to the legacy of Father Jonathan should be displayed in the center, but the first part of the name of the center should not be a person’s name,” she said. “The mission of the center is inclusivity and welcoming while having the name of the center be after a person who is an ally takes away from our mission and is separatist.”

Lopez said he, too, understands the contributions Fr. Jonathan made to the center, but he is not enthusiastic about the decision to abbreviate the center’s name to the “Fr. Jonathan Center.”

He explained, “I didn’t agree with the change to ‘Fr. Jonathan Center,’ though I know of his importance, involvement, and how he is the reason we exist and have the opportunity to promote diversity, his name on the forefront takes away from who we are and only added confusion to people [who are] part of the center or not.”

Lopez said he is, however, supportive of the decision to refer to the center as the “intercultural” center instead of the “multicultural” center. Dr. Diaz explained the change in her email, saying, “The term ‘multicultural’ means ‘many cultures’ and was popularized in the 1990s; ‘intercultural’ symbolizes that today, these many cultures are now interacting and engaging across cultural differences.”

Ramirez and Lopez did not believe that students were consulted at any point in the renaming process. The decision seems to have been made for them. However, their voices have been heard. On Thursday, May 3, when additional signage was installed in the Jean Complex, the abbreviated sign for the Intercultural Center was changed from the “Fr. Jonathan Center” to the “Intercultural Center.”

When asked to comment on the process, Director Currie declined to speak with The Hilltopper about the issue. So, too, did Dr. Diaz. In her declination to comment, Dr. Diaz cited the fact The Hilltopper is an independent newspaper not recognized by the College. She made clear, however, she was happy to have a conversation about the process with interested students.

Other students declined to comment on the issue, and Fr. Jonathan, while happy to share insight into his work at the college, respectfully declined to comment on the renaming process, citing the fact he was not intimately involved.

Stagnone Opposes Efforts to Strip Students of Right to Vote in NH

Perhaps our greatest expectation of higher education should be that our colleges help to shape citizens who are actively and purposefully engaged in the communities which they choose to be a part of throughout their lives. The institutions of higher learning here in New Hampshire are rather exceptional at this. As a student at Saint Anselm, I have been proud to tell friends and family that my college is ranked #5 in the nation for community service by The Princeton Review, and that each year, more than 900 Saint A’s students provide over 18,000 hours of service in the Manchester area. Our college likewise prides itself on being a hub for political activity, and while frequent events and debates on campus are highly attended, myself and many of my peers have gone above and beyond to volunteer on local campaigns, intern in constituent services for New Hampshire’s elected officials, and get involved in activism.

A number of out-of-state college students around New Hampshire have off-campus jobs and internships. Students live in the state for at least nine months out of the year, where they shop, dine, rent apartments, and otherwise contribute to the economy. They have collectively donated tens of thousands of hours volunteering in New Hampshire’s schools, hospitals, prisons, youth programs, and nursing homes. Out-of-state college students are even counted in the state’s census, which forms the basis for federal aid and the makeup of voting districts. The point I wish to make is that New Hampshire’s college students are a part of the communities surrounding their schools in just about every way possible, and their contributions to these communities are extremely meaningful. It is only reasonable that they be allowed to vote here, and as was established in Symm v. United States (1979), it is their constitutional right.

Some of New Hampshire’s lawmakers wish to exclude these students from having a voice their communities. Recently, the New Hampshire Senate voted to pass HB 1264, a bill that would change voting eligibility standards in the state. While HB 1264 only makes a small change in language to existing law, this change would mean that out-of-state college students voting in New Hampshire would have sixty days to become New Hampshire residents and pay the associated fees, or else face misdemeanor charges. Purchasing a New Hampshire driver’s license costs $50, and additional state and municipal fees could end up totaling hundreds of dollars. In a time when we should be doing all that we can to attract passionate young people to our state and keep them here, lawmakers are instead asking them to pay a fee– a poll tax– to participate in our democracy. They are telling young adults who live, study, work, volunteer, and set an example of civic engagement in our communities that their voices are not welcome.

HB 1264 comes in the wake of other similar bills, promoted by lawmakers who argue that we need to restore integrity to New Hampshire’s voting system and crack down on perceived voter fraud by creating stricter eligibility requirements. However, evidence shows that voter fraud in New Hampshire and across the country is extremely rare. Not to mention, there is nothing fraudulent whatsoever about college students voting in the state they live in for the majority of the year. The way I see it, our lawmakers are smart enough to understand that voter fraud is not a pressing issue in New Hampshire. They are also smart enough to be aware of the demographics that are more or less likely to vote for a particular party, and this is why they are targeting college students, who are often perceived as being more liberal. HB 1264 is not about election integrity but rather is an effort to intentionally shape a constituency to benefit the Republican Party.

Rather than attacking their voting rights, we should be encouraging civic engagement among college students and acknowledging with gratitude the immense value that they bring to our New Hampshire communities. Governor Chris Sununu has promised to veto any bill that would infringe upon college student’s voting rights, and students across New Hampshire will be waiting with expectations that he keeps his word.

Photo taken from Market Watch.

Russo’s Review: Meg’s Secret Salad Recipe

Meg Russo ’19 with her own salad recipe. Photo courtesy of Meg.

Today at lunch I decided to get an easy to-go meal: A salad! As a vegetarian, one of my main meals is a salad. I recently decided to take eggs out of my diet as I am trying to transition to becoming a vegan. Normally, I would add a hard boil egg to my salads but not anymore.

I absolutely prefer the salad bar in Davison rather than the salad plate from the Coffee Shop. The coffee shop salads really only contain iceberg lettuce, instead of romaine, kale, or spinach. The salad bar in Davison has the option to add whatever you want. The ability to create your own salad is especially helpful if you are allergic to or do not like certain vegetables. When I get a salad from Davison, I like to start by getting two big black colored bowls so I can easily shake everything together.

During lunch today, I started the base of my salad with romaine and a handful of spinach. I almost always get the question “how do you get enough protein in your diet” and the answer is actually you get more protein than you are required to consume on a meat diet. Therefore, I am getting enough protein eating my whole vegetables, chickpeas, lentils, and quinoa meals.

After the lettuce, I then proceeded to add a big scoop of cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and corn. Corn was the outside factor and special guest in my salad because I have not seen corn in a long time at the salad bar! For my dressing, I used oil olive and salt and pepper to add an extra flavor. The only thing about my salad that I did not like was the avocado. The avocados were not good at Davison today as they were too squishy and appeared brown. Usually, I do love a good avocado in my salad, as it is a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and it helps lower bad cholesterol.

Overall, I would have to give this salad a 9.25/10 because the bad avocado did not mix well with the rest of the vegetables.