Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who made national headlines when she called on fellow senator Al Franken (D-MN) to resign after he was accused of sexual misconduct, will be in New Hampshire this weekend. Gillibrand is campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination after filing an exploratory committee with the Federal Election Commission.
First appointed to the Senate in 2009, after Hillary Clinton’s resignation, Gillibrand has represented the Empire State for ten years. She was instrumental in repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which prohibited gay and lesbian servicemembers from serving openly in the Armed Forces. She has also gained notoriety for taking on top military leaders over the issue of military sexual assault and harassment. Her legislation to reform the military justice system was unsuccessful, but she was able to get the support of Republican lawmakers like Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY).
Gillibrand has received criticism from the left for previously having more conservative stances when she was a congresswoman from rural New York from 2007-2009. Gillibrand has since apologized for some of her previous beliefs and has said she was wrong.
The New Hampshire Young Democrats are hosting a Pints & Politics event with the presidential hopeful at Stark Brewing Co. on Friday night. After her stop in Manchester, the candidate will head to campaign stops along the Seacoast and in the North Country for the rest of the weekend. You can register for the Pints & Politics event here.
The beginning of Donald J. Trump’s presidency spurred a wave of feminism and women-led activism that has been ongoing for over two years. In 2017, the National Women’s March captivated the minds and attention of Americans nationwide, inspiring hundreds of women to run for public office and participate in national elections. The Women’s March on Saturday, January 19, 2019, marked two years of advocating for strong women. It was a fierce declaration to protect and defend their rights, safety, communities, and health. The march aimed to raise awareness and increase understanding of women’s needs in social change and public policy, targeting issues such as health care, which is not equally accessible nor affordable for black, Hispanic, trans*, disabled, and Indigenous women.
The annual event is organized by women who work directly with impacted communities, expanding the Unity Principle established in 2017 to represent marginalized and vulnerable women. Annual marches work to encourage progression in policy priorities in ending violence against women and femmes, ending state violence, LGBTQIA+ rights, immigrant rights, reproductive rights and justice, racial justice, economic justice and worker’s rights, civil rights and liberties, disability rights, and environmental justice.
The #WomensWave swept through cities across the country, including Concord, New Hampshire and Boston, Massachusetts. Several Saint Anselm students participated in the marches, and their support for the cause was overwhelming. When The Hilltopper asked Liz Moore ’19 why she marched in Concord, she answered, “Because women are still afraid to walk alone in a city and because 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. As long as this statistic is this high, we need feminism and we need this march.”
Taylor Head ’19 supported Moore’s reasoning, saying she embraced the atmosphere where “everyone’s opinions [are] respected and celebrated at the march.” She went on to add, “I loved the environment of the women’s march and genuinely do feel like our generation is going make changes for women of those voices silenced long ago.”
When asked why she participated, Moore stated that she personally benefits from the experience: “It’s empowering to see strong, confident women (and men!) standing up for themselves and talking about the problems in our country rather than simply pushing them under the rug.”
How much can a difference can a small demonstration make? Moore answers: “Even though I’m just one person, I’m confident that my participation in the march made a difference. Each person there was just one person, but together we were a unit. A group of people standing in unity and solidarity is impactful and very powerful.”
The national movement has not only garnered intense media attention but has increased its number of supporters. Cassidy Diaz ’19, marched in Concord because of her newfound awareness about the lack of gender equality. Just a few months ago, Cassidy considered herself an “antifeminist”— her views of the world abruptly changed after taking “The History of Feminism Through Literature.” “Professor Holbrook opened my eyes to the many ways women AND men are treated unfairly just because of their gender,” says Diaz, “and this inspired me to attend the Woman’s March because I truly believe that this needs to change.”
Diaz admits she believes her impact is subtle but important nonetheless. While she says many people asked about her participation which spurred great conversation, Diaz says, “I don’t think I am really making a difference by attending these kinds of marches… I’m not usually the person to scream my views and opinions from the rooftops. But, I think the difference these marches make [is] in the people that attend them, like myself. It gave me an opportunity to educate myself further on feminism issues and the actions and lack of actions that are taking place in the world.”
Many agree the marches offer exposure to increase awareness of pressing issues. Moore hoped that by participating in the march she would mindset. “I was able to talk with and listen to women of all walks of life that wanted to make their voices heard, and I was exposed to more issues than I initially thought there were,” she says.
Her sentiment was echoed by Diaz, who said, “These marches are extremely inspiring and [it’s] encouraging to see how many people also care about the same issues you care about.”
When asked what she hopes to communicate to other women, Moore stated strongly, “I hope to communicate to other women that even if you might not feel oppressed or endangered, there are numerous women that are… Girls supporting girls is a powerful thing!” Girls supporting girls is the backbone of the marches, inviting new supporters, such as Diaz, to explore issues that beg attention.
“Even though I’m not your typical feminist and my opinions don’t exactly align with a typical feminist,’” Diaz says, “this march definitely showed me the importance of listening to other people’s opinions even if you don’t agree.” Moore, Diaz, and Head collectively agree they will be participating in future marches.
A fight for women everywhere, the Women’s March is an important part of the modern feminist movement around the country. Raising awareness and increasing representation for all women is a slow and tedious process, though women are steadily and powerfully making their voices heard—one step at a time.
This past weekend, I sat in C-Shop with a group of my friends eating dinner as a comedian hired by CAB took the stage. We had completely forgotten there would be a performance but decided to stay a little while to hear his act. He interacted with the crowd and played a game where he sang your name and then changed into something else. “What’s your name?” he asked a student. The guy replied and the comedian said, “Well, you’re Jewish.” Don’t worry, the whole thing was wildly funny. He kept going on about the lack of diversity in New Hampshire and looked around the room. “Are all y’all Catholic?” he asked. Seizing a rare moment to embrace my faith, I spoke up -well actually I think I screamed because I have no perception of my New York loudness- so anyway, I screamed out for all of the coffee shop to hear, “I’m Jewish.” And then the comedian said, “Well you’re weird, what the hell are you doing up here with a bunch of Catholics, aren’t they your enemy or something?”
My father’s grandparents were Jews who fled Germany at the breakout of the Second World War. They converted their money and belongings into diamonds and smuggled them out of Germany and to America. When my grandmother told me this story, she made this sound a whole lot more traumatic than it actually was and kvetched about how dangerous it was. She regaled me with tales of her mother, my great-grandmother, braving the journey to America. It wasn’t until I found a picture of my great-grandmother as a young woman, dressed in a luxurious fur coat atop a posh looking ocean liner, that I realized this journey may have been a bit less harrowing than my grandmother originally told me. Wow, grandma. Way to hype it up.
When she arrived in America, my great-grandmother fell in love with a young man whose family was also from Germany. His family would not approve of the marriage unless she renounced her faith. When I think about it, I think they were ashamed or scared of her Jewishness. I know, New York, the Jewish capital of the East Coast, you’d think that being Jewish wouldn’t be a problem, right? She gave up her faith, her identity, that very quality that made her, her, to be with who she loved.
I had always felt a strong connection to Judaism and to my great-grandmother, even though I have attended Catholic school my entire life. My father grew up eating traditional German and Jewish fare and passed this on to me. Winter weekends were full of warm and crispy latkes, matzoh ball soup was readily available at the slightest sign of illness, and no family gathering was complete without my aunt’s homemade rugelach. Still, it wasn’t until I entered college that I began to explore the religious side of being Jewish. You see, for me, there are several aspects of being Jewish. There’s the cultural aspect that I was exposed to from a young age, which was centered around food. There’s the religious aspect, which I did not explore until college. And there are the everyday things that I say or do that make me Jewish, such as words and phrases that I always think are seemingly straightforward and self-explanatory, but my friends have no clue what I’m talking about. (Goy, yente, kvell, tchatchke).
It wasn’t until my junior year of college that I really felt a calling to explore the spiritual aspect of Judaism. It was definitely tough, trying to figure out my spirituality when there was not a space for me on campus. As a Catholic college, Saint Anselm has a number of clubs and societies for Catholics as well as Christians: Knights of Columbus, St. Scholastica Society, Peer Ministers, weekly evening Mass, and prayer groups held by Campus Ministry. But where was my group, my tribe? I was my own little tribe of one, wandering in a metaphorical desert, trying to find my religious identity. (I know, isn’t that just the corniest reference?)
I knew that there were a few nearby synagogues in downtown Manchester, but felt awkward walking into one all alone. What really solidified and helped me grow in my faith was the opening of the Multifaith Prayer room in the newly-renovated Roger and Francine Jean Student Center Complex. Knowing that I, and other students of various religious backgrounds, had access to a warm and inviting space on campus made it so much easier to explore my faith. For those of you who have not checked it out yet, even if you are not a religious person, I encourage you to go poke your head in when it is not in use.
In an unfortunately tragic way, I found out that there are more Jewish people on campus then I previously thought. In October, Campus Ministry held an Interfaith Prayer Service in remembrance of the victims of the shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. I had never been more scared or felt more alone than I did that week, but as soon as I walked into that room, I felt oddly safe. There in that room were professors, students, and faculty members of various religious backgrounds standing together in prayer. My favorite professor stood in a corner, head bowed in prayer, complete with a kippah. (A kippah or yarmulke is a traditional skull cap that is worn by Jewish men and sometimes women.) Since that day, I’ve felt a little less spiritually lonely, knowing that my tribe of one had increased, even just a little bit. The next week, when I received a Star of David necklace that my grandmother had sent to me in the mail, I wore it with pride, and have ever since.
My friends have gone out of their way to embrace my cultural heritage. I had a big Rosh Hashanah dinner, complete with brisket, homemade braided challah, and most importantly, wonderful friends to ring in the Jewish New Year. My roommates fully supported the little Christmas-Channukah display I set up on our coffee table: a white Christmas tree next to a silver menorah. I started taking time the past week and a half that we’ve been back to take a few minutes when I’m near the Student Center to stop inside and say a prayer of thanks.
While being Jewish on a college campus certainly is not easy, and often comes with the statement of “well you don’t look Jewish” (please stop saying this, it’s actually anti-Semitic. You cannot tell if someone is Jewish by their physical attributes), it also has allowed me to share special parts of my life with my friends as well as to grow and explore in my faith.
Although Saint Anselm College is a Catholic institution, I have never felt more accepted and welcomed than I do this year. I like to think that this is because being Anselmian and being Catholic are not mutually exclusive. I know Saint Anselm is a Benedictine Catholic and that the college is founded upon his teachings and those of the Benedictines, but being Anselmian is more than just being Catholic. Being Anselmian is about being inviting to all members of the community. Being Anselmian is fostering a learning environment where everyone feels welcome. Being Anselmian is setting a place at the table for everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
While it is no secret that Kamala Harris wrote her newest book, The Truths We Hold, to lay out the case for a presidential campaign, there was no guarantee it would be a success. In fact, I read Julián Castro’s An Unlikely Journey immediately before reading Harris’ memoir. It was fine. It had cute anecdotes about his childhood and some inspiring ones about his time on the city council. It painted the odds that Castro overcame to become a credible presidential candidate just two generations after his grandmother immigrated to Texas, but it failed to craft a cohesive narrative about who Castro is.
The Truths We Hold, however, is a far more successful work of political memoir. It may not be on the level of Michelle Obama’s Becoming, but Kamala Harris does a masterful job of weaving her personal narrative into a story that emphasizes key American values and the issues facing a divided nation today. Her work as a prosecutor, a district attorney, and as California Attorney General spills off the page as she describes the issues she worked on, the challenges she faced, and the questions facing the United States in the coming years.
The book gave Harris the chance to answer questions on voters’ minds on her own terms. Doubts exist among those on the left about whether or not Harris’ career as a prosecutor is acceptable in the age of Black Lives Matter. Harris describes her decision to go into law as a prosecutor, calling on the memories of civil rights lawyers who prosecuted KKK members and the nation’s most famous attorney general, Robert Kennedy. In fact, her chapter about her time as a prosecutor is now her presidential campaign slogan: For the People. The chapter seeks to dispel the left’s criticism. She meets her critics by sharing her history of reforming the system from within.
In page after page, the real Kamala Harris emerges. Those who know her as a political figure are likely familiar with her surgical questioning of Brett Kavanaugh. The Truths We Hold goes deeper than a C-SPAN camera can in demonstrating the motivational forces that stir within this leading presidential contender. She is a daughter with a deep reverence for her mom and the wisdom she imparted. She is a stepmom – Momala – to two children that she came to through marriage but loves as her own. She has many fundamental beliefs – Medicare for All, a gentler immigration system, a fairer criminal justice system – but perhaps none are so important as her belief in Sunday family dinner, which she often prepares for her family.
Beyond the prosecutorial style of this larger-than-life politician is a deeply passionate and caring advocate on behalf of those she has been chosen to serve. Many people have long noticed Harris’ expertise as a politician, but I was among those who, at times, questioned her sincerity. Did she really believe the progressive politics she espoused? Or was it theater designed to prepare for a presidential run? It is impossible to read The Truths We Hold without seeing the sincerity with which Harris approaches this endeavor.
Whether or not Kamala Harris becomes the 46th President of the United States, her book is a must-read for any person who is intending to vote in the 2020 election.
The first votes of the 2020 Presidential Election are going to be cast a little over a year from now, on February 3, in Iowa. New Hampshire will vote about a week later, and then the party really starts. A number of states have taken steps to front-load the primary calendar, giving their state, and its delegates, more sway in selecting the nominee. In 2020, it is possible that the Democratic nominee could surpass the delegate threshold by the end of March. The 2016 nominee, Hillary Clinton, did not do so until June 6.
There are currently four declared major candidates for President running as members of the Democratic Party.
The first to announce, in July of 2017, was former Maryland Congressman John K. Delaney. Delaney, a former business owner, has very low name recognition but, as he said at an event in the Dana Center last year, his hope is that running for so long will give him the opportunity to meet as many voters as possible in as intimate venues as possible in order to push up his name recognition. Congressman Delaney’s platform is broadly centrist, promoting a jobs training program, a shift to clean energy, and a reform to America’s public education program.
Hawaii Congresswoman and former Army National Guard medic Tulsi Gabbard was the second Democrat to throw her hat into the ring. She first rose to prominence in the national dialogue in 2016, when she resigned as a Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee in support of Senator Bernie Sanders’ upstart presidential campaign.
Congresswoman Gabbard, in her fourth term as a member of Congress, is having trouble getting her campaign off the ground as she is dogged by several controversies from her past. In 2017, she took part in a Congressional fact-finding mission to the warzone in Syria and met with Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad, who has been accused of using chemical weapons against his own people and has a long and bloody track record of suppressing dissent in the country. Congresswoman Gabbard has said that she supported al-Assad’s rule and opposed U.S.-led “regime-change.” She has a mixed record on social issues such as abortion and has drawn ire over her archaic positions on same-sex marriage. She once led the campaign in Hawaii for a “Traditional Marriage” constitutional amendment.
Julián Castro, a former Mayor and Housing and Urban Development Secretary, become the third major candidate to announce he was running for President. Secretary Castro has a record as a strong progressive, being an early supporter of same-sex marriage and promoting a Medicare-for-All proposal. At a recent visit to the Hilltop, he put an emphasis on pre-K education and his immigration story. Secretary Castro’s largest base of support comes from the shifting demographics of the United States, as he represents a younger, more progressive, and more inclusive picture of the future.
The only other major Presidential to declare that they are running is California Senator Kamala Harris. A first-term Senator, Harris is the child of immigrants and spent much of her early years in Quebec, where her mother moved after divorcing her father. Senator Harris has made a fast rise through the California political ranks, serving as San Francisco’s District Attorney and California’s Attorney General before being elected to the Senate in 2016. She is the first Senator from Jamaican or Indian heritage and has staked herself out as a progressive voice in Washington, leading the opposition to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, pushing for passage of the DREAM Act, and authoring criminal justice reform legislation.
While only four candidates have formally announced their Democratic campaigns for President, a number have launched Exploratory Committees, a coy political tool enabling someone to look into running for President while fundraising a significant amount of money without having to follow the normal FEC disclosure rules.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, an outspoken Progressive, was the first to do so, followed by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Senator Gillibrand reached national prominence in 2017, after being appointed to the Senate when Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State in 2009, for her stiff opposition to many Trump Administration nominees as well as leading the campaign to oust Senator Al Franken of Minnesota as his sexual misconduct scandal became public.
Pete Buttigieg, the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has made history as the first openly gay person to form an exploratory bid for a major party’s nomination. Before jumping into the presidential race, he conducted an unsuccessful long-shot bid for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 2017.
It is likely that several more candidates will join the Democratic field before the end of 2019. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has floated the idea of a self-funded campaign and some expect him to use his event at Saint Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics next week to launch his campaign.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee has announced he is running for President on the sole issues of addressing climate change but has yet to file with the FEC. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is expected to launch his second campaign for the Presidency sometime next week.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, Colorado Senator Michael Bennett, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke have all been speculated to be interested in running in 2020, although none have formed exploratory committees or launched campaigns.
As for the Republican side, it is unlikely that a serious, viable challenge to President Trump will emerge. Former Ohio Governor John Kasich and Former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake have been frequently talked about as a potential “Anyone But Trump” candidate, but President Trump’s support among Republicans is very strong, nearly 90%. At the Republican National Committee’s annual winter meetings, held this weekend in New Mexico, the party passed a resolution declaring their support for President Trump’s reelection, essentially giving a stiff finger to any potential challengers.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a popular Governor in a blue state, has recently been floated as a potential candidate, with reports indicating he is in talks to headline a Politics & Eggs at Saint Anselm College in the coming weeks and is planning a trip to Iowa with Never Trump leader Bill Kristol. It is not obvious what potential base of support Governor Hogan has other than the Never Trumpers.
Early on in the 2020 media cycle, there was a lot of talk of a potential “Unity Party” bid, reminiscent of when Republican President Abraham Lincoln chose Democratic Senator Andrew Johnson as his running mate to unite the country in 1864 during the throes of the Civil War, with Republican Governor Kasich and Democratic Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. This talk has, largely, died down since the fall, when Governor Hickenlooper told reporters in Colorado that Kasich “didn’t even send me a text” when Governor Kasich formed a new PAC to look into running for President.
Regardless of how big or how crazy the 2020 primary fields are, or even the general election, the Hilltop with surely be at the center of it all.
The Hilltopper chose to recognize one student who contributed greatly to the campus climate over the last year. Much in the vain of TIME Magazine‘s Person of the Year, our Student of the Year is meant to represent the student who, throughout 2018, contributed most significantly to the events at the college.
KERRIN NORTON ’19: A LEADER, A LEARNER
On May 18, 2019, Kerrin Norton ‘19 will graduate from Saint Anselm College with a B.A. in Communications and English. She will also depart the Hilltop after leaving an indelible mark on this community that she cares so much about. Norton is a leader whose work for the student body at Saint Anselm College advances the value of learning – learning from experience, learning from peers, and learning through listening. In a year marked by profiles in courage, like Andrew Keyes ‘18 coming out of the closet as a Knight of Columbus, various staff members approaching The Hilltopper anonymously and on the record to speak about layoffs over the summer, and Matt Solomon ‘20 organizing a pride event and standing up for LGBTQ+ rights, Norton’s experience shows there remains value in effecting social change through existing institutions.
“I don’t even know why I applied here,” she told The Hilltopper when asked about the path that brought her to Saint A’s. When she visited campus, the future Admissions Ambassador fully intended to go to school outside of New England, but when she toured here she was struck by how the people described their relationships. She came to view Saint Anselm as a place to make lifelong friendships, and so she decided she’d just come here instead.
When she moved in freshman year, Norton figured she would transfer after her first semester, but around the third week, she was lying in bed when she realized she hadn’t cried yet like she’d anticipated. Huh, she thought to herself, before plunging into four years of heavy involvement on campus. She never even downloaded the transfer applications she once intended to complete.
“I got involved right away,” she said, “because in high school I waited too long. I challenged myself to get involved in one thing right away. So that was SGA for me.” From there, Norton’s work on her class council snowballed into becoming Chief of Staff for the Hughes/Ethier Administration, the third-highest-ranking position in the student government. She was also on the New Student Orientation Committee this past year and serves as the President of Saint Elizabeth Seton Society, the Senior Class Gift Committee, and as a Service & Solidarity trip leader.
Campus Accessibility & Presidential Search
Her titles do not tell the full story. Her work in these various capacities paints the picture of a tireless advocate – a happy warrior – dedicated to improving life at Saint Anselm College. Most significantly, she has been consistently working on improving handicap accessibility on campus. For Kerrin, the issue is personal. Her brother Own is a junior in high school and is in a wheelchair. She says that she remembers getting to Saint A’s and recognizing that the campus was not accessible for handicapped people.
Norton holds a deep love for Saint Anselm. When The Hilltopper asked why she is so committed to working on improving campus, she said, “I love it here, and I want everyone to love it. I don’t want there to be a reason why anyone wouldn’t love it.” Similarly, she explained that she would hate for handicapped students to miss out on the Saint Anselm experience because they use a wheelchair. “I wouldn’t want anyone to not be able to come because of the size of a doorway,” she explained. She went on to talk about when her brother would visit campus. “Not being able to share so much of campus because there isn’t a ramp doesn’t do this place justice,” she said.
Change at Saint Anselm College often comes slowly and exacting tangible victories through the Student Government Association can often leave students more frustrated and disappointed than content and successful. Such is not the case for Norton, who was joined by Tim Merrill ‘19, former SGA president and vice president Emma Bishop ‘18 and Brandon Pratt ‘18, and incumbents Joshua Hughes ‘20 and Jacob Ethier ‘20.
Next year, Dominic Hall will receive a significant amount of money in the next budget to be renovated. As Norton explained, “It’s not hospitality if someone can’t get into a building.” In the next year or so, the school will add a ramp to Dominic with a swipe entrance. As of now, a handicapped freshman boy would be placed in the Living Learning Commons whereas a freshman girl could be placed in Baroody and still be with other first-year students.
Because of Norton’s diligent work on handicap accessibility and other issues, the college administration selected her to represent the student body on the Presidential Search Committee. Norton said that being named to the committee is her greatest accomplishment as a student. She is humbled by the chance to be a voice for her fellow students.
As Norton explained what she thinks she can bring to the committee, a guiding virtue of her work emerged. In answering questions about the search committee, about her efforts on handicap accessibility, and on other issues, it became clear that for Kerrin Norton, being a leader is about being a good learner. It is about listening to students and advancing their beliefs. When asked what she hopes to see in the next college president, she was clear about her role, “I am looking for what I am hearing everyone else is looking for. As awesome as it is, I wasn’t selected for my opinions. I am a representative of the students’ concerns.”
What is she hearing? Norton said that most people want a president who is more present on campus and who gets to know students individually. “Community is a Benedictine hallmark, so we want to uphold that about our institution,” she explained.
A Guiding Value: Learning
Perhaps more than any other reason, her remarkable impact on campus has been made possible by her willingness to learn about the school and learn about how to implement change. When asked what her various roles have taught her, she replied, “Oh my gosh. So much. Literally so much. Where do I even begin?”
She fidgeted in her seat. Played with her hair a little bit. Looked around a nearly-empty coffee shop. Then, she answered succinctly, “I’ve learned to learn more by listening.” She hit the point over and over, continuing, “I think what I’ve really learned so much is how to be a good listener because I feel so blessed that I’ve had such an awesome experience here, but my experience is so different from yours or the people sitting over there. Through trying to increase handicap accessibility, I’ve learned how other people are excluded on campus.”
While she has been a champion of learning from her peers, Norton’s desire to effect change comes from an even more humbling experience. At Relay for Life, Norton opened up about losing her mom to cancer. The memory of her mom guides her to focus on the things that bring her joy – like helping others and improving the school. “When my mom passed away, she wished she’d spent more time with friends. I was a really focused student before she passed away,” Norton explained, “and life is so short – it’s just so short. You should do the things that make you happy.” For Norton, that means listening to her peers and fighting to make a difference.
When prospective families ask her why she stayed at Saint Anselm College, Norton dons a smile and delivers a heartfelt answer, “I feel so privileged to be a part of a community that so many others feel lucky to be a part of. I think a lot of students feel that way, and if they don’t, I want them to be able to feel that way.”
Indeed, she has dedicated much of her free time at Saint Anselm to organizing events that all students can enjoy, addressing inequalities for handicapped people, and bringing the concerns of students to Alumni Hall. In true Kerrin Norton form, however, the humble example of student greatness was candid about what she wishes she had done more of while here. “I wish I’d done more service,” she said, as if her work on campus wasn’t enough. “Like a weekly commitment through Meelia. I overlapped with Meelia, but I never fully immersed myself in the way I wanted.” More service, Norton says.
She also recognized that her socioeconomic and racial backgrounds and her sexual orientation precluded her from immediately jumping into larger issues of inequality. Through the facilitated dialogue program, Norton learned more about the struggles facing those communities on campus. When the conversation turned to these issues, she grew quiet – a more reserved version of the Kerrin Norton who bubbled over with excitement as she explained her work on other issues. “I am a big proponent of inclusion, and I focused on one important aspect of it, but I wish I had been an earlier and more aggressive ally for those communities that need attention.” In her last semester, Norton said she is fully committing herself to be a better ally for those communities.
Strength from Others
While one may believe that Norton is a superwoman, and to some degree she is, she does not gather her strength alone. She mentioned her affinity for Dean of Students Alicia Finn, whom, she said, she “really aspire[s] to be like.” She continued, “Dean Finn inspires me every day.”
She also pointed to three friends who help her stay energized. Abbie Nolan ‘19, Maggie O’Connor ‘19, and Abbie Reynolds ‘19 all keep Norton on track. “I found their friendship by being involved in things we were working on together,” she said. “That’s such a special bond. They push themselves to be better and they’re role models to me because I see their passion and that inspires me to do better.”
“When the seniors graduated last year,” Norton said, “I was sad because so many good role models for me had graduated, but I realized I had role models all around me still.” These role models inspire Norton to keep up the work that demands so much of her time.
It would have been easy for Norton to spend her days in bed, binging on Netflix shows and reading novels or going to the coffee shop to socialize with friends. She was honest in saying she has plenty of days like this. However, so much of Kerrin Norton’s three-and-a-half years have been spent building a better campus community. In 2018, she overcame the odds of a perilous budget season to secure funds for a more inclusive campus, she helped organize an orientation weekend that welcomed one of the college’s largest classes in history, and she diligently worked to realize various SGA initiatives. In 2019, she will have more of an impact on campus than any other student could, by being in the room where it happens and helping select the next President of the College.
Early in the interview, Norton claimed she peaked in high school. Fortunately, for Saint Anselm College, she was wrong.
The federal government has now been partially shut down for over a month. Federal employees are working part-time jobs at supermarkets and for ride-sharing apps. GoFundMe, the crowdfunding website, now features hundreds of fundraising pages to help support furloughed government workers.
A government shutdown is when Congress and the president fail to pass and sign legislation funding the federal government and its agencies. The current shutdown is the longest to date, totaling 32 days as of January 22. When the government shuts down, federal workers in the applicable departments are furloughed and do not receive pay. National parks and historic sites are closed or may degrade due to a lack of Park Service employees to properly maintain the site. Businesses that rely on federal workers and agencies also lose money.
The reason for this government shutdown is President Donald Trump’s demand that $5.7 billion be allocated toward a border wall between the United States and Mexico. Democrats in Congress have stood their ground and have refused to give in to the President’s demands. On January 19, President Trump presented a compromise of sorts: in exchange for funding the border wall, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) would be extended by three years. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced plans to bring this proposal up in the Senate. Democrats, such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), have insisted that the federal government be reopened before any negotiations regarding the border wall, DACA, and immigration reform more generally take place. Senator Schumer referred to the proposal as a “hostage-taking” tactic.
Outside of the drama on the Hill, the government shutdown is impacting citizens across the country. Over 2,000 Granite Staters have been directly impacted by the government shutdown and left without paychecks. Congressman Chris Pappas (D-NH-1) has refused to receive pay until the entire federal government is reopened. In an interview with WMUR, Congressman Pappas said, “As someone who has run a small business, I could not imagine receiving a paycheck while any of my employees are working without pay. For this reason, I write today to request that my pay be withheld until the current shutdown has ended and the entire federal government is reopened.”
Across the state, local businesses, banks, and food pantries are opening their doors to help furloughed federal workers make ends meet. Southern New Hampshire University has established a $1 million emergency fund for students impacted by the government shutdown. The Friendly Church in Portsmouth is offering free meals for furloughed workers, with proof of employment. Click here for a full list of resources available across New Hampshire.
Admittedly, I am no historian. However, I would like to think that for an amateur double major in American Studies and Politics, I have a relatively strong understanding of American political figures. I can think of few that have done more to degrade the democratic virtues of compromise and legislative action than Mitch McConnell.
As some fellow Anselmians are likely aware, the government shutdown currently afflicting our nation is the longest in history. Make no mistake, this shutdown is President Trump’s doing, and he has actually stated that he wants the credit for it. He can have the credit for creating this mess. His childish insistence on a wall is enough, in my mind, for every Barnes & Noble to take The Art of the Deal and move it to the fiction section – or the trash bin.
However, I believe that at least some of the credit for its prolonged continuation should be given to Mitch McConnell. When Democrats took control of the House and Nancy Pelosi assumed her role as Speaker of the House, their priority was not a $15 minimum wage. It was not single-payer health care. The first substantial bill they passed was not about any of the campaign promises on which they’d won their majority. Instead, it was a Republican-written solution for funding the government. Think about that.
The Democrats in the House decided that they would take political motivations and put them aside and give the Republicans a way out of the mess their party leader created. When the House’s solution to ending the shutdown passed the Senate in the previous Congress, it did so with the vocal support of the Senate’s 100 members. There was not a “No” to be heard. Conservatives like Ted Cruz and Jim Inhofe found themselves in agreement with moderates like Joe Manchin and Lisa Murkowski and progressives like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Now that such legislation has been supported by a Democratic majority, Mitch McConnell is unwilling to bring it to a vote in the Senate. He says that the proposal does not have the support of the president – that it would be vetoed. That is almost certainly true, but by preventing it from getting to the president’s desk, McConnell is allowing President Trump to continue this shutdown without facing bipartisan political pressure.
My friends have asked me how I think the shutdown will reach a conclusion. I fail to see a clear path towards reopening the government if Mitch McConnell is unwilling to put some kind of pressure on the president to accept the reality of his own defeat.
For a president who had control of Congress for the first two years of his presidency, Donald Trump has been remarkably unable to get a substantial legislative agenda through. With the exception of two bitterly-contested Supreme Court nominees and a tax bill that had long been the pet project of Speaker Paul Ryan, Donald Trump’s legislative agenda has been dead on arrival. If he were going to get this wall, it would have happened before the majority of Americans voted to elect Democrats to Congress. Donald Trump missed his window. However, it is incumbent upon Mitch McConnell to spell out this reality and force the president’s hand. Yet, if there is one simple truth remaining in American politics today, it is this: Mitch McConnell is the only person in Washington with less interest in advancing the common good than Donald Trump.