Special Election 2022: Tyler Cullen, Candidate for Senator

Tyler Cullen is an idealistic and motivated candidate to represent the Class of 2022 in the Student Senate. Calling for accountability and transparency within SGA, as well as an increase in volunteerism and civic engagement, Tyler is confident that the upcoming term can “be the best year yet for our class”. Tyler hopes that if elected, he can help the Sophomore Class Council to “be vocal and visible, and we’re going to have a full roster of officers that really care about the people they represent.”

Photo courtesy of Tyler Cullen

Although Tyler has many ideas when it comes to being a leader for his class, he explained that none of that leadership would be possible without the input of his peers. Students approaching and informing him of their concerns and issues is how he hopes to be a representative and effective Senator. One way he suggested that the class council could more effectively communicate would be to create a new position within their administration; a position Tyler referred to as the “Constituent Outreach Chair”. This position, as Tyler envisions it, would “allow us to streamline electronic communication and provide for a dialogue on all issues, big and small.”

When asked whether or not Tyler had heard of any issues from his peers thus far, he responded by saying: “I’ve spoken to many who are aggravated about wait times in Davison. Obviously, student government can’t make hiring and operational decisions, but I hate the idea of doing nothing because it is a valid concern.” Tyler went on to say, “I’m very interested in looking at some specific data about activity levels throughout the day and brainstorming with Dining Services management to see if there’s a solution to be found.”

Tyler also took the opportunity to talk about events he would like to see the sophomores host. He suggested that rather than traditional entertainment style or fundraising events held on campus, the Class of 2022 should utilize its large size to participate in service-oriented events. He said, “that’s a great deal of manpower that can be put to good use for worthy causes.” One issue faced by Class Councils every year is how exactly to motivate those large numbers of students to engage with SGA and their coordinated events. Tyler optimistically said, “I hope to see record levels of student participation and I expect that we will all be aggressively trying to get more people involved.”

Tyler feels he is the person who can accomplish this ambitious goal, due to his prior involvement in high school organizations as well as his position as a NHIOP Ambassador. Serving as the Student Representative to the School Board his Senior year in high school, Tyler’s job was to represent the needs and interests of his peers while organizing and planning events as a part of his Student Council. This experience, he feels, will serve him well in the Senate and as a member of the Class Council; where he will be responsible for planning and executing events similar to those he has done in the past. 

Tyler is one of two candidates running to represent the Sophomore class in the Student Senate. Voting will be held Monday and Tuesday in Davison and CShop.

Special Election 2022: Kevin Chrisom, Candidate For Vice President

In the upcoming special election for the Class of 2022, Kevin Chrisom is the sole candidate for Vice President. Kevin, an Executive Board Member for the Saint Anselm College Republicans, NHIOP Ambassador, and political science major says he’s excited to fill the vacant role of Vice President. 

Kevin’s main goals are to increase Sophomore participation and engagement on campus, and educate students about the organization and importance of SGA. He highlighted the fact that the Sophomore class is currently the largest class on campus, something he believes to be a unique advantage the Class Council should take advantage of.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Chrisom

When commenting on the special election to fill a vacant Senate seat, Kevin said that he had made a good relationship with both candidates and was looking forward to working alongside the winner of that election regardless of the results. He suggested that the best way to accomplish their goals as a council would be to unify around a singular goal and work diligently to complete it. He also took the opportunity to comment on President Gina Gagliardi’s leadership, noting “Gina does an effective job as our class president”, and he expects it to be a good year. 

When asked about his qualifications for the position, Kevin responded by saying that he had a great deal of experience in student government from high school, as well as being a leader within the current clubs and organizations he’s apart of. Kevin is confident in his ability to “jump in and lead”, and when questioned about his prior time commitments he said he was not worried at all, and that in fact, he had already begun planning for the transition. 

As a second-year college student, Kevin said that he has had time to identify issues on campus and that in fact, some students had mentioned some of their concerns to him during his campaigning. Some of those concerns included efficiency within Davison hall at mealtimes, extending intervisitation hours, and increasing campus safety.

One event Kevin hopes to spearhead as the Vice President of the Class of 2022, is a town-hall, forum style event with College President Joseph Favazza. An idea which has floated around multiple groups on campus, including the Student Senate, Kevin said that he believes this would be “a home-run”. 

Kevin hopes to be an engaging representative of his class and said that “I take voters and constituents comments to heart […] they should be comfortable knowing they have a VP who will listen to them and fight for them”. When asked what had motivated him to run for the position, Kevin said that he had been considering a Senate run at the end of his Freshman year, but had decided to wait. He said he had decided to stay behind the scenes, build relationships, and learn about SGA before running for election. When the opportunity arose at the beginning of the year, however, Kevin decided “I think it’s time for me to use my experiences and the relationships made here to put myself where I need to be”

Kevin Chrisom is running for Vice President of the Class of 2022. Voting will be held Monday and Tuesday in Davison and CShop.

Meet The Candidates: Merrick Bilodeau ’23, Vice President

As one of two candidates for the position of Vice President of the Class of 2023, Merrick Bilodeau is focused on building relationships with her peers, and learning “about the passions and goals of all of our students”. Merrick wants voters to know that she is looking out for them and that she wants her peers to “consider Saint As their home, and our class, their family”.

Photo courtesy of Merrick Bilodeau

As a student leader throughout her high school experience, she is confident in her abilities to take on the role of Class Vice President.  She also explained that her leadership positions in her high school’s Spanish club, Student Emergency Response Team, and on the Relay For Life planning committee taught her a great deal about how to be a leader, but also how to be a follower. Merrick defined leadership as “learning to take in others’ ideas and incorporate them into a collaborative project that helps and pleases the common good”. 

On the topic of fundraising and event planning, Merrick discussed her experiences managing finances and running service events for clubs in high school. She explained that based on her experience, event nights would be the best way to engage students and make fundraisers successful. She suggested hosting paint nights, bowling nights, and partnering with local restaurants.  

Merrick’s favorite event on campus is the Meelia Center’s Foster and Adoptive Parents Night Out (FAPNO) because she enjoys entertaining the kids, but also because it’s “a simple and fun way to help our community!”. That sense of community is also what Merrick enjoys most about being at Saint A’s. She said, “Our students truly exemplify the Benedictine values, as hospitality and humility surround our campus every day.”

Merrick is one of two candidates running to be the Vice President of the class of 2023. She is a member of the Student Nursing Association and the SAC EMTs. Voting will be held Monday and Tuesday in Davison and CShop.

Meet The Candidates: Ben Mickens ’23, Senate

Focused on financial responsibility and transparency, Ben Mickens is one of two candidates to represent the Class of 2023 in the Student Senate. Ben is hoping to establish himself as an accessible and reliable leader within his class. This desire has manifested itself within Ben’s goals for the upcoming Senate term: increase student participation in class events, encourage students to become engaged in Student Government, and create efficient and consistent communication between the Class Council and the student body.

Photo courtesy of Ben Mickens

When asked about his qualifications for the position, Ben pointed to multiple years of experience in his high school planning events and fundraisers while also participating in the mock trial program. He also spoke about his optimism for the year, recognizing the professionalism of everyone within SGA, as well as the unique opportunity to discuss campus-wide issues in the Senate.

Ben said that as he was campaigning and collecting nomination signatures he spoke with students about possible issues. He gave the example of a student who had been fearful that his meal plan was not as large and extensive as it should be. Ben also took the opportunity to provide a few personal areas of concern. He wanted to ensure that the college was not being wasteful when funding projects, and said that financial responsibility was of the utmost importance. To Ben, this is not only important for the school’s pocketbook, but it is also a matter of making sure that students’ tuition is not increasing unnecessarily. 

On the issue of student engagement, Ben said that it would be nearly impossible to “get the school involved if we can’t get our class involved”. He suggested that rather than strictly advertising on social media or contacting people via email, the Class Council should take advantage of their unique situation and personally communicate within freshmen dorms on campus such as Dominic Hall and Joan of Arc Hall. He also noted that students are not generally apathetic as much as they are simply uninformed. Ben said: “They’re open to being engaged”, and insisted the Class Council should do everything it could to directly engage them.

Ben also considered those communication strategies to be a two-way street, pointing out that students should be able to bring ideas for events and fundraisers directly to their council. Ben remarked, “When someone has an idea, as a leader you support others ideas […] I’m always open to talk, I have an open-door policy”. He also suggested community partnerships to assist the class in raising funds. 

Aside from his participation in SGA, Ben is also a member of the Saint Anselm College Republicans, the Abbey Players, and the Honors Program. He is one of two candidates running to represent the Class of 2023 in the Student Senate, and voting will be held Monday and Tuesday in Davison and CShop.

Meet The Candidates: Stefan Zwolinski ’23, President

Stefan Zwolinski is a confident candidate for President of the Class of 2023. Stefan, who has formed his campaign around active communication and selfless leadership, said in his interview with the Hilltopper: “Actions speak louder than words. Acting on what we as candidates say is the most important thing, and it’s up to the voters to determine who does that best.” 

When asked about his qualifications for the position, Stefan pointed to his past experiences in high school student government. He remarked that it had not always been easy, and at times during his junior and senior year he had been required to work within a team which had inefficiencies and it forced him to take on more responsibilities. On how he views the Presidency, Stefan said: “It’s a challenge for me, and it’s something I challenge myself to do […] this is something I’ve come to be passionate about”. Stefan would go on to emphasize the passion and the need for passionate leaders. 

Photo courtesy of Stefan Zwolinksi

This passion could be seen in his goals for the year: building and strengthening personal relationships with his constituents, opening consistent pathways of communication, and maintaining a strong work ethic as a group. He said that as a council “We’re not going to stop working no matter what”, and that he wants “everyone to have their voice in determining their future”. 

If you had the opportunity to see Stefan’s speech Wednesday night, it should be no surprise that he is a strong supporter of the Saint Anselm athletic community. He remarked that he’d had multiple conversations with students who had wanted to create more club sports on campus, as well as increasing funding and support for those clubs. One example he highlighted, was an instance in which the Club Soccer team had been denied their request for SGA to fund their transportation to and from their games. 

Stefan also pointed out the need for more effective methods of communication from his class. He suggested appointing a Communications Manager, as social media was a viable means of communication and something everyone has access to. When asked specifically about the turnout at the candidates’ speeches Wednesday night, Stefan said: “We’re all to blame for not telling people about speeches”. He elaborated on that statement by saying that it was partially SGA’s responsibility and fault for poorly advertising the event, but part of the issue falls back on the Freshmen candidates themselves for not encouraging more people to attend the event. He said clearly: “I think they could’ve done a better job, but if we want our voices to get heard it’s our responsibility”.

On the topic of fundraising and event planning, Stefan said that he was going to be looking towards Student Body President Joshua Hughes, and other seasoned SGA veterans for advice and guidance. However, Stefan argued that though the role of the President was to lead class activities, it wouldn’t stop him from supporting his peers in the Senate and advocating for issues he was passionate about. He said, “being President isn’t just about fundraising and events” and that he hoped to go above and beyond the typical model of Class President. 

Stefan is one of two candidates for the position of President of the Class of 2023. Voting will be held Monday and Tuesday in Davison and CShop.

Meet The Candidates: Emily Dickey ’23, President

Emily Dickey is one of two candidates running to be the President for the Class of 2023. In her campaign speech, which she delivered Wednesday, Emily spoke briefly about the common emotions freshmen have when coming to college. She discussed the feelings of worry, sadness, and uncertainty that accompanied her on her way to Saint Anselm, but she pointed out that those feelings did not last long. She said simply, “I have found a new family here” and that she was “thrilled with the choice to become an Anselmian”. She went on to say that “There’s a strength here, and people just want to progress and grow and help others” and that she’s “never met a group of people so committed to being better individuals every day”.

When asked about her goals for the year, Emily highlighted the obvious need to engage with students and increase student participation. One of her main goals is to learn more about Saint Anselm and SGA in what she called “the trial and error year”. She explained that as freshmen she and her peers have a great deal to learn, but they are also afforded a host of new and exciting opportunities.

Photo courtesy of Emily Dickey

Emily spoke about the unique perspective she was hoping to bring to her class council by bringing up her favorite quote: “Move the needle”. She said that she always kept this in mind as she was a leader in student government all throughout high school. Now, in college, she is hoping to bring that same attitude not simply to move her needle, but to “do things that’ll help other people move their needle in life”. 

On the subject of student engagement, Emily said that there were multiple factors behind the apparent lack of interest among her peers. The first, she said, was that people simply didn’t know enough about the school yet to take a major stake in it and work towards solving issues around campus. Secondly, she mentioned that it was SGA’s job to “get the kids out there”; she was referencing the traditional formatting of SGA candidate speeches being held in an auditorium, only available to those willing to come and watch. Emily suggested that it would be possible to stream speeches to multiple areas around campus – Davison, CShop, and the Student Center. She mentioned that the current format made her, and her fellow candidates, feel hidden and secluded. The solution to the issue of low student turnout, in Emily’s mind, is utilizing the power of word of mouth and directly asking students to participate. As she mentioned in her speech and reiterated in her interview, Emily believes the best way to engage with students is to identify an active core group of students that can motivate their peers and bring students to events.

Emily is one of two candidates for the position of President of the Class of 2023. Voting will be held Monday and Tuesday in Davison and CShop.

Meet The Candidates: Eric O’Connor ’23, Senate

Photo courtesy of Eric O’Connor

Eric O’Connor, a resident of Providence, Rhode Island is one of two candidates to represent the Class of 2023 in the Student Senate. When asked what his favorite aspect of Saint Anselm College was, Eric referenced the small community atmosphere the school prides itself on. He also discussed the general kindness of the student body, and what he observed to be a constant willingness and passion to help others.

When asked about his goals for the year, Eric answered by saying that though he had been on campus for only a few weeks, and still had a great deal to learn about the issues students at Saint Anselm face, he was optimistic about the prospects of the upcoming Senate term. His goal is to focus mainly on supporting his class while taking a more supportive role on larger campus issues. He stated, “You don’t have to be the top dog to get things done,” and explained that he hopes to solicit the help of his upperclassmen peers in SGA for advice and guidance throughout the upcoming term. 

Eric emphasized the importance of transparency, and stated that he would work to make sure he was available to his peers and always maintained a clear and open mind when considering votes within the Senate. Eric’s open-minded philosophy could be seen through the emphasis he placed on being a Senator who represented his constituency well and was always looking to “hear what other people have to say,” in order to make informed and conscientious decisions. 

One issue facing the Class of 2023, as it has faced every class at Saint Anselm College, is how to engage with their peers and encourage student participation. Eric addressed this issue by saying that students were currently not engaged enough to care, and that more student involvement would then foster a stronger sense of community and the ability to change things on the hilltop. He questioned why it was that students were not as involved as they should be with student  affairs on campus, and asked: “Do people have something to say and are they afraid to say it?”

When asked how he thought the issue of student engagement and participation could be solved, he pointed to public outreach. Eric acknowledged the low student turnout at campaign speeches and raised the concern that perhaps SGA was partially to blame. He argued that student engagement was not necessarily an issue of apathy, but rather poor marketing and communication. He echoed sentiments made by other candidates for the establishment of a social media outreach coordinator. Eric said, “This is our college experience […] we have to get our say out there.” He called for SGA to take a bigger role in the lives of students on campus, and he recommended that this start with increasing transparency and communication. 

A concern of Eric’s was his relatively simple path towards winning the election, which he saw not as a benefit, but a major issue. Due to the fact the Eric and fellow candidate Ben Mickens were the only two Freshmen to run for four open Senate seats, it is all but certain that they will win their election. When speaking about his class voting on Monday and Tuesday, he said: “I’m a senator whether they like it or not, and that’s not a good thing”. He said that he and the other class officers would look to fill their open Senate seats as soon as possible. 

Eric also spoke of his ambitions to become a NHIOP ambassador, and he said that he viewed his open schedule as a positive which allowed him to devote a great deal of his time and energy to Student Government. He said that he was passionate about helping his class succeed and strengthening SGA, and he added that “As long as you’re passionate about something, you should take it as far as you can.”

Eric O’Connor is one of two candidates running to be a Class of 2023 Senator. Voting will be held Monday and Tuesday in Davison Hall and C-Shop.

Communication, Participation Become Key Issues In Freshman Elections

Candidates for the Class Council of 2023 gathered in the Jean Center Auditorium Wednesday night to pitch their vision of leadership to their peers. The freshman class arrived on campus just over four weeks ago; in which time they have begun to participate in student clubs and organizations, oriented themselves to campus life, and established themselves as Anselmians. As is custom at Saint Anselm College, a select few students have stepped forward in hopes of representing their class in the Student Government Association – the governing voice of students on campus. 

As the crowd of approximately 35 students of different classes eagerly awaited the candidates’ speeches, one could not help but notice the apparent lack of freshmen present. This was noted by multiple candidates throughout the duration of the speeches; as the seven speakers began to focus their message around communication and engagement. 

Delaney Flanagan, the sole candidate for the position of Secretary spoke about her past experiences and leadership qualifications, as well as her desire to represent her class in SGA. Flanagan at one point remarked that their goal as a class should be to “make the hilltop a home for all of us”. 

Eric O’Connor and Ben Mickens, both senate candidates for 2023 discussed the need for a representative governing body. O’Connor stated “the student’s interests are my interests”, and Mickens echoed his peer’s sentiments by explaining that he had been motivated to run for office in order to “fully commit” to being at Saint Anselm College. Being that O’Connor and Mickens are the only two candidates running for the four open senate seats, a reality the Class of 2023 may face is attending their first senate meeting with only half of their delegation. One audience member asked the two young candidates how exactly they were planning on filling those vacant senate seats. They remarked that for the time being, they would simply be forced to “do twice the work”, but no clear strategies or suggestions were given.

The first students of the night to run opposed were vice-presidential candidates Andrew Gianattasio and Merrick Bilodeau. Gianattasio presented a bold vision of the position of Vice President, explaining that it was not the most glamorous position, but it was easily the most important. He termed the position “Super Senator” and asserted that on any issue facing students, SGA needed to fully commit to changing the situation. In a similar manner to her opponent, Bilodeau also focused on the importance of the position and began by saying that the question Anselmians should be asking themselves is “How can we be better?”. She also suggested campaigns focused on kindness and school spirit to increase student involvement. 

The final students to speak, presidential candidates Emily Dickey and Stefan Zwolinski each emphasized the strong sense of community on campus, and they pointed out the importance of selfless leadership. Dickey began by saying she was proud to be an Anselmian and that her mission should she be elected would be to enact changes that would be, in her words, “not only better for me, but better for our class”. In his speech, Zwolinski attempted to set himself apart from what may be viewed as the traditional presidential candidate. He asserted that he was “not going to be the typical president”, and that the features of his presidency would include selfless leadership, constant and efficient communication, and strong will. One audience member asked the two presidential candidates about their power to appoint other non-elected members of their council – specifically what position they would seek to create as a part of that council. Zwolinski answered first by pledging to appoint a communications manager responsible for networking, outreach and bringing people together. Dickey, on the other hand, argued that it was unrealistic to believe that everyone in the class would be an active participant and that the class council simply “can’t get everyone.” She suggested instead that it would be more productive to identify groups of active students and engage with them directly in hopes that they would, in turn, gain the support of their peers. She ended by promising to appoint a social media director responsible for public outreach. 

As the week-long campaigns for the positions of Secretary, Senator, Vice President, and President begin, all eyes will be on the candidates. Now, the question becomes this: who will win the election, and will they prove to be the leader their class needs? 

If you’re interested in learning more about the candidates, their goals, and the election of the Class of 2023, please follow the Hilltopper on social media and at our website as we will be posting interviews with the candidates in the coming days. 

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