Social Justice Award Winners Announced at 9th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Dinner

In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Center for Intercultural Learning and Inclusion hosts a series of events each year, all of which begin with the MLK Jr. Dinner. On Tuesday, January 21st the Saint Anselm College community gathered to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King as well as the efforts of others who have been inspired by his message and his dream, including some of our very own.

The event began with students reading excerpts from poems that resonated with them when they thought about race and the world around them. One student’s poem choice resonated in particular with the audience. Larissa Charitable, ‘20, read aloud Langston Hughes’ poem “Let America Be America Again”, a misnomer that aims to debunk the myth that America was never a fully idealized place and continues to need immense growth. Hughes’s poem asks, “‘to build a homeland of the free’ The free? Who said the free? Not me?” to which he answers “let America be America again- The land that never has been yet”.

Beautifully orated, Charitable’s choice of poem came as a needed reminder that we must never stop speaking the truth while injustice continues to occur, and that idealizing a place as having ever been perfect leaves out forgotten histories, making true progress all the more difficult.

One of the main events of the MLK Dinner is the presentation of the MLK Social Justice Awards. These awards aim to highlight one Saint Anselm College student and one faculty or staff member who shows great leadership, compassion, and courage when it comes to advocating for social justice in our community.

The faculty award was presented to Professor Max Latona from the Philosophy Department. Latona is the Executive Director of the College’s Center for Ethics and Business in Governance, as well as the co-founder of Inti Academy, a non-profit that serves refugee, immigrant, and underprivileged children in Manchester. Working in this capacity for 10 years, Latona provided immense resources for these underrepresented groups in the Manchester area, ensuring them a place to develop together.

The student award was presented to senior, Richard Cabrera ’20. Cabrera was selected for the work he has done advancing the rights, representation, and empowerment of his peers on campus. Despite the difficulty, Rich is persistent and demonstrates impressive and admirable dedication to his community. He is constantly presented with an uphill battle at our predominantly white college, but nonetheless he continues fighting for what is right. Despite this, he has continued to be a strong force for change, as well as compassion. Like Dr. King, Cabrera manages the paradox of both confronting the injustice and prejudice in the world while also maintaining a positive outlook on life and what things could become. This balancing act is a struggle for most people, however, Rich performs it with ease.

Not only does Cabrera advocate for social justice on campus, he is a Forensic Science major, pursuing his degree and accomplishing what he initially came to Saint A’s to do. Cabrera has also been involved with the Intercultural Center’s Transitions program, which is a pre-orientation program designed to allow students from underrepresented groups (and anyone else who wants to apply) the opportunity to arrive on campus early to prepare themselves for the adjustment to college. In this capacity, Cabrera served as a mentor for three years, both to his mentees and also the rest of the program and the campus.

Cabrera is a Resident Assistant and has been for two years, serving the college in yet another capacity. In this role, Cabrera has continued to stand up for his ideals, even when it was made difficult or uncomfortable for him to do so. He shows great courage in ensuring that all Anselmians are not looked over, forgotten, or disrespected, whether it be by fellow students, faculty, or staff. Cabrera serves as the President of our school’s Multicultural Student Coalition, a student group that provides a safe space for all students to gather, develop, and address change that needs to occur on campus.

College students normally have a lot to manage on top of their academics, but someone like Rich shows a kind of strength that is rare and should always be highlighted. Not only did he move from California to New Hampshire, heat for cold, home cooked meals for Davison, a community that understood and respected him to one that needed a LOT of work, but he also never let that defeat him. He had the option to return home and end his time at Saint A’s, but he decided to stay and work to make this new home as good as it could be, and our Anselmian community is forever thankful.

I have known Rich personally and have seen the work he has done on this campus firsthand. He goes out of his way consistently to make sure that injustice anywhere is stomped out. He has advocated for all underrepresented communities on campus equally, but the most inspiring for me to have watched is the role he plays for the LatinX community on campus. He has mentored these students to believe in and advocate for themselves, helping them succeed on campus and showing them what they are capable of. We still have a lot of work to do on this campus, but there is no doubt in any of our minds that because of Rich’s legacy the path to get there will be much less rocky for the people who follow in his shoes.

The Clothesline Project; A Call to Action

On October 28th, the Assault Violence Education and Resource Team (AVERT) sponsored the unveiling of the Clothesline Project, an initiative undertaken by the YWCA Meelia Center Coordinators Abby Roden and Meagan Savage, The Harbor, and AVERT, among other community partners. The unveiling provided students the opportunity to view the many shirts left behind by Saint Anselm community members in order to raise awareness in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. 

The YWCA has been collecting different shirts all month in order to provide survivors of assault, as well as their allies, an opportunity to courageously break the silence on the subject of sexual assault and domestic violence. Survivors of domestic relationship violence were given purple shirts, survivors of sexual violence were given teal shirts, and allies of these survivors were given white shirts. Recipients were told to decorate the shirts with either their personal stories, a motivational message, or anything else they thought would inspire viewers to do their part to break the silence. Once decorated the recipients could leave the shirts in various drop-boxes across campus to protect anonymity.

The unveiling gave students an opportunity to view the shirts in an intimate setting before the project went on display in the common space of the Jean Student Center. Everyone in the room could feel the severity and necessity of the project as we shuffled one by one to view the many shirts left by our community members. Some told detailed stories, some only told small parts, and some simply described the feeling that came with being subjected to this particular kind of violence. Although each shirt was different, all of them held intense power that made it impossible to look away and imperative to understand the domestic violence and sexual assault epidemic that our society is faced with.

As the ceremony began, Katie Parent from the YWCA offered some historical background on the Clothesline Project. It started in the 90s as a way to give survivors a way to express their stories in a non-intimidating way. This theme of breaking silence has continued and grown in the movement to raise awareness of sexual assault which is why the project has remained so successful over the years. Katie expressed that “they (instances of sexual assault/domestic violence) happen in silence and silence allows it to continue happening”. Giving survivors an opportunity to break the silence on sexual assault in a way that does not put them in harm’s way is essential to fighting back against sexual assault and domestic violence. 

Saint Anselm senior and one of the YWCA coordinators for the Meelia Center, Abby Roden, offered attendees the opportunity to take a moment of empowerment while recalling the sentiments that we had seen expressed in the shirts. Roden explained that as opposed to a moment of silence, a moment of empowerment was more necessary when it comes to sexual assault and domestic violence. There is plenty of silence already on the issue, what is needed is not more complacency but self-empowerment to do your part to end the stigma. 

This call to action was an exceptionally moving part of the ceremony. Especially on a college campus, it is vital that we are all remaining educated on the reality of sexual assault and domestic violence so that we can address it when we see it, and so that we can push for change to empower survivors rather than the assailants. While it is important to empower survivors, we should not have to rely on them to push for change when the healing process can take years and may never be fully realized. 

We all have a stake in this conversation, and we should be doing everything in our power to create an atmosphere where survivors feel empowered to report their assailants as well as heal in peace. As Katie echoed, assailants thrive in silent atmospheres where sexual assault is not talked about or reported. Survivors think that their stories will not be heard, or believed. The question remains, how can we dispel this silence when our school too often is also silent and unsupportive of the fact that its students are having consensual sex before marriage?

NHIOP Cares About Civic Engagement, and We Should Too

On September 10, exactly 100 years since New Hampshire ratified the 19th Amendment, the New Hampshire Institute of Politics invited author Elaine Weiss to speak about her book “The Woman’s Hour”. The historical non-fiction takes readers on a journey through the final battles of the 19th amendment, shining a light on the racism, political corporatism, and bigotry that made this movement one of the most awe-inspiring in terms of the unbeatable odds. 

Curiously enough, Weiss commented that her interest in the subject began when she started asking people how women won the right to vote, and they would tell her they’d never heard of Seneca Falls. Weiss suspected that there must have been more to an entire movement than one convention, leading her to study the fight for the 19th in great detail.

After describing the strenuous events that led to the ratification of the 19th, many audience members were left feeling hopeless because of the current climate on the topic of gender. When asked how Weiss felt about time slipping backward, she responded that “it gives me hope to see what this movement has gone through…they always picked themselves back up”.

She went on to say, “maybe that’s the comfort in knowing history is cyclical, it’s always happened, but you have to keep fighting”. Weiss’ conversation with the audience brought her to a very important topic: voter turnout. She emphasized the importance of using the vote that these women had fought so hard for. Not only using the vote but using it wisely; informing oneself on the issues, holding elected officials accountable, and caring about what is happening on the national, state, and local level. 

Civic Engagement is more than just simply participating in the political process, it is about engaging with your own community. Sure it may seem silly to think that just by voting alone someone can make a difference, but it is more than just the act of voting; it is what that act represents. 

To vote well, you have to educate yourself about what is going on in the world around you. Not just about the issues that affect you, but about the issues that affect us all. By engaging with your community you hear a story that you otherwise would not have heard. 

Voting should never be only about you. In fact, that would be impossible. Through voting, we all have the ability to make a change in our communities, in avenues that we may never have had exposure to. You could be a non-disabled person voting on increasing accessibility. You could have no experience with the armed forces voting on veteran services. You could be a man voting on anything to do with women’s reproductive rights.

In order to vote well you need to be able to view life from multiple different lenses. Requiring direct engagement with the people in your community. That engagement with the diversity present in our communities can only serve to enrich ourselves, and our political process. 

The Kevin B. Harrington Student Ambassador program at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics has been rolling out numerous programs focused on Civic Engagement for Constitution Month. This is a month-long celebration of the anniversary of the signing of the constitution in September of 1787.

In addition to “The Woman’s Hour”, the Civic Engagement Committee has hosted a lecture on the importance of Civic Engagement and Civility with Judd Gregg and Joe McQuaid, and co-programmed with Campus Ministry for a 9/11 memorial.

One of the chairs of the committee, Brendan Flaherty ‘21, commented that they are “attempting to engage students across campus in some new and exciting ways”. One of these initiatives is called “Pickup and Politics” which is a co-sponsored program with Green Team where attendees will spend an afternoon cleaning campus while discussing important environmental issues. 

Providing opportunities for the campus to come together to discuss the world we live in is an essential part of cultivating a community of respect. Co-Chair Melanie Fey ‘20 commented that she “plans every event with the hopes of connecting with as many students as possible”. She went on to say that “it is crucial that we take the time to educate and engage these topics because one day our generation will be the ones elected into office”. 

In addition to the events already planned, the Civic Engagement Committee of the Kevin B. Harrington Student Ambassadors is hosting National Voter Registration Day on Alumni Quad, Tuesday, September 24th from 11:30-1:30. There will be free Ben and Jerry’s with volunteers ready to register other students to vote, or request absentee ballots from their home states.

Matt Solomon, TEDA President, Responds to Crier Letter; Defends LGBTQ+ Visibility


As the President of a club with the primary purpose of increasing visibility for the LGBTQ+ community on campus, I was overjoyed to see the Gay Pride flags and Trans Pride flags spread across campus. I am sure these flags represented many things for the LGBTQ+ community on campus. They represented a chance to be seen when they are so often overlooked. They represented the love they have for members of the community who are closeted and may have needed to see that flag. And most importantly they represented the desperate cry for equality of the person who planted that flag.

I can only assume that the reason these people planted these flags was as a form of peaceful protest against the prevalent prejudice atmosphere on campus. It seems as if only yesterday the campus was caught up in the discriminatory actions taken against the leader of the Knights of Columbus, or the series of anti-transgender talks sponsored by the college. After much progress, there is still work to be done. The culture on campus is one of being asked to quietly exist. Of being asked not to make too many waves with your diversity. This is a sentiment that alarms me for many reasons.

First, it proves the complete ignorance of what it feels like for a member of the LGBTQ+ community while in the closet. I personally spent several years in the closet, surrounded by intolerant people, who would do things like publish articles about how Gay Pride represents sexual promiscuity instead of love, tolerance, and acceptance. To perfectly describe what it is like in the closet is impossible, but in my experience, it was a void. A completely empty space where my existence was put on hold for seven years of my life. I spent every day as if a zombie, aimlessly living a life that was not mine. The only emotion that would ever creep in was hate. Whenever I was reminded of my sexuality, of that part of my being that the world around me despised, I would be left alone in that void with only the hatred I had for myself. In this dark place, I attempted suicide multiple times. When I came to college I met a group of friends who accepted me with open arms, regardless of my identity. This is the first time I had ever experienced anything like that in combination with the freedom that comes with college, so I broke out of that place for the first time since I was 12 years old.

These statistics come from the Trevor Project, and prove that the lack of visible support for the LGBTQ+ community is a life-threatening problem. (Youth is defined as any age between 15-24)

     Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24.1.
LGB youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth.
     LGB youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth.
     Of all the suicide attempts made by youth, LGB youth suicide attempts were almost five times as likely to require medical treatment than those of heterosexual youth.
     Suicide attempts by LGB youth and questioning youth are 4 to 6 times more likely to result in injury, poisoning, or overdose that requires treatment from a doctor or nurse, compared to their straight peers.
     In a national study, 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt. 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25.3 LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.
     Each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average.

Visibility is the most important aspect of helping the LGBTQ+ community. It is what I have devoted my life to, and I would give everything up for the cause.

As soon as I reclaimed my identity I made a promise to myself that I would do everything in my power to make sure that no one ever felt the way that I felt. This meant working tirelessly to spread LGBTQ+ inclusion wherever I could, and on this campus I had my work cut out for me. I started in Academia, writing papers and making arguments about things like how Jean-Jacques Rousseau would feel about the LGBTQ+ community. I moved on to Residential Life, where I made sure that the male Freshman dorm was inclusive for all members of the LGBTQ+ community. I worked with campus ministry, Abbot Matt, Father Benet, and more to ensure that they were just as committed as I was in spreading love for all. I organized the first ever Pride on Saint Anselm College (I called it LGBTQ+ Visibility Day) to showcase that the LGBTQ+ community and Saint Anselm College could live in harmony, without one overshadowing the other. I worked with my fellow officers of the True Equality and Dignity Alliance to create a safe space where our members felt loved and accepted and free to be whoever they wanted. I accomplished these things because I worked with the people on campus who understood the most important part of this battle for equality. That this is not an ideological war, this is not about belief systems, this is about our lives. This is about ensuring that all people feel accepted and safe in the place where they spend 8 months of their lives each year.

My heart goes out to anyone on campus that is still in the closet and has to see things like these articles being published, or the flags being taken down out of intolerance. However, a part of me is appreciative that this is happening. Some of you may be wondering why these little flags and the responses they received are such a big deal. They show the attitude on campus that is still very much there, that the LGBTQ+ community is expected to live quietly on campus. That we are not allowed to express ourselves and be seen for the beauty that our diversity gives us. I have worked tirelessly over the past two years with the wonderful people on this campus that hope to drown out the ignorance and hate that is on this campus waiting for its chance to crawl out of the woodwork. I hope that this article will inspire them to continue our fight and I call on others to join us as well. The True Equality and Dignity Alliance will be hosting multiple events next semester in addition to the Second Annual LGBTQ+ Visibility Day, we hope to see you all there.

Peace and Love,
Matthew Solomon
President, T.E.D.A.