A second-semester freshman student complained today that one of her classmates is “so obsessed” with her. The student, Hillary Topper ‘22, said that ever since arriving in her journalism class, Annie Crier ‘19 has been overly focused on what she’s doing.
“It’s really the weirdest thing,” she complained. “I just showed up here ready to contribute to my journalism class. I’ve worked really hard. I do all my research, I go out of my way to do the best work I can, and yet, Annie is always breathing down my neck.”
When asked to corroborate her accusations with more specific anecdotes, Topper had a list of things to share. “A few weeks ago, I decided to start trying to talk more in class, so I would sometimes make witty jokes to prove my point. Annie was pretty quiet all year, but the second I started making jokes – she did, too!”
Other students in the class agreed with Topper’s version of events. “Look, Annie Crier’s a cool girl. I’ve had a lot of classes with her because she’s a senior, and she’s ya know – she’s always there. She’s a dependable friend. But I mean Hillary Topper is just great! She brought all this new energy to campus, and I mean her jokes are hysterical. She’s not trying to impress anyone, she’s just doing her thing. Then, Annie started making jokes and well, they’re just kind of awkward.”
The obsession has moved beyond personality and into school work, Topper reported. “The other day I handed in a reflection on what I’ve learned this year. The next day, Annie had her own reflection on the same topic. It’s just so weird to me.”
Perhaps most frustrating for Topper is the fact that Crier remains the teacher’s pet. “All I’m saying is I have every right to be in this class, and yet, it seems like my professor keeps favoriting Annie. They don’t even read the papers I turn in.” Topper explained that when she goes to get help from faculty, administration, and even fellow students, they shut the door in her face (sometimes literally!)
“I just don’t understand why we can’t get along,” complained Topper. “Campus is big enough for us both.”
Annie Crier ‘19 did not respond to our requests to comment.
Dr. Steven R. DiSalvo had a long list of goals for Saint Anselm College when he arrived on campus five years ago. He wanted to increase the school’s visibility and produce a strong brand, create greater financial stability, and upgrade the campus’ infrastructure. According to DiSalvo, he has achieved all of these things.
DiSalvo set out to utilize the New Hampshire Institute of Politics to improve name recognition of the college and strengthen Saint Anselm’s brand. “It clearly worked,” DiSalvo said.Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Saint Anselm College played a prominent role. Campus visits increased 46% after the primary season.
He also discussed the extensive upgrades to campus infrastructure that have occurred under his administration. Since the construction of the Living Learning Commons, the campus has grown to include the grotto, a new campus entrance, and the Roger and Francine Jean Student Center Complex. Additionally, the college has updated the plaza in front of Alumni Hall and is currently working on updating classroom spaces across campus.
Yet one of the accomplishments of which DiSalvo is most proud is also the most controversial. He is excited that the college has experienced greater financial stability under his administration. DiSalvo says he and his team achieved this goal by increasing enrollment, improving the retention and graduation rates, and unveiling the Faith in the Future campaign, which is near conclusion.
In particular, DiSalvo notes the growth of the college’s endowment. The year before he arrived at the Hilltop, Saint Anselm’s endowment stood at $83 million. Today it stands at $157 million. The interest on that endowment is used to offer financial aid packages to students. As DiSalvo prepares to leave, Saint Anselm is better positioned to attract a more competitive field of applicants because of this increase.
Some of that financial stability came about as a result of the college’s decision to eliminate 13 positions, a story The Hilltopper first reported on in May 2018. In his first on-the-record interview with the paper about the issue, DiSalvo explained the reasoning behind the decision. “When we looked at budget forecasting,” DiSalvo said, the administration could see there was going to be stress on the budget. “The board’s direction,” he explained, “was to address that last year.”
DiSalvo insisted that the process was handled well. “That exercise was handled professionally, gracefully, and we worked with those individuals to make sure they had everything they needed to find a landing spot,” he said.
He also pushed back against the idea that the decision was done through a top-down approach. “Each department head,” he explained, “was charged with finding at least one full-time position they could live without. So it was really up to the department heads to determine which positions they wanted to focus on.”
This statement contradicted previous understanding of the firing process. According to an August article from the New Hampshire Union Leader, “DiSalvo informed the Union Leader that the 13 eliminated positions were decided by the administration with input from the institution’s vice presidents.”
Further, DiSalvo maintained that the impact on students always remained at the forefront while the decisions were being made. “We wanted to make sure the student experience was central,” he said.
In retrospect, DiSalvo said, he would have held off on announcing the voluntary resignations of the Vice President of Administration and the Vice President of Student Affairs. “Those were separate from the 13 and because they were announced at the same time, people assumed those positions were eliminated but they weren’t,” he explained. Overall, he maintained that the process was handled “pretty well.”
DiSalvo believes that, because of a number of factors, Saint Anselm is on firmer financial footing than when he arrived five years ago. That success combined with greater brand recognition and the upgrades to infrastructure that he initiated have contributed to Saint Anselm entering the Top 100 Liberal Arts Colleges, according to U.S. News and World Report. DiSalvo says that entering the top 100 is his proudest accomplishment here from his time on the Hilltop.
DiSalvo admits to falling short in one category. He had hoped to establish a program for advanced degrees. “I think it’s critically important that the next president move that forward,” he said. As DiSalvo explained it, “By offering graduate programs, there’s greater financial stability.” He continued, “Knowing what I know now about the stress on the current infrastructure for undergraduates, the only other way to grow is at the graduate level. And that’s what I would have done had I stayed.”
Now, as his time at Saint Anselm comes to a close, DiSalvo prepares to take what he called the “great logical next step” in his career, being inaugurated as the seventh president of Endicott College. The college made the announcement via a video posted to their Twitter account at 6:15 AM on March 27th.
After being “recruited by several institutions,” DiSalvo decided on Endicott for a number of reasons. Mostly, the college represents a new challenge for Saint Anselm’s outgoing president. He noted that he is moving to a larger school of more than 5,000 students. In addition to a greater student body, Endicott consists of nine separate schools and has double the operating budget with about 30% more employees. He was further drawn to Endicott’s experiential learning component. Students there are required to take internships, beginning freshman year, and the program culminates with a full-semester internship during a student’s senior year. He said he very much likes the “entrepreneurial approach” that Endicott takes to ensure its students’ success. Additionally, Endicott allows DiSalvo to remain in New England, where his family has called home since arriving in New Hampshire in 2014.
As DiSalvo leaves the hilltop, he is confident in his legacy at Saint Anselm College. He sees now as the right time to move on, confident in what he’s accomplished and excited for what lies ahead at Endicott. “The comfortable thing would be to stick around where you know everybody and try to coast it out,” he said, “but I am also a big believer – if you look at my track record – I don’t like to overstay my welcome. I really did feel that I’m going out on top, given everything we were able to accomplish.”
DiSalvo intends to begin his time at Endicott as he began it here at Saint Anselm – with a listening tour. He hopes to meet varying constituencies across campus in an effort to understand their expectations for his presidency. He said that every Thursday night during his first year as president he sat in the pub to meet with whichever members of the faculty came to talk with him. He joked that the process would be easy to replicate because “[Endicott] also has a pub on campus!”
Meanwhile, the search for DiSalvo’s successor continues. The Search Committee has yet to bring finalists to campus for on-campus tours and interviews. It is likely that a new president will not be named until after that process is complete. DiSalvo said his on-campus interview was on April 15th.
It’s no surprise to Saint Anselm students that campus is a hotbed for political activity. Every president since Dwight Eisenhower has been to the hilltop. The whirlwind is getting started a bit early, though. Presidents’ Day Weekend and the following days brought two prominent candidates to campus and even more to the state.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) returned to New Hampshire, most notably for an event at her alma mater, Dartmouth College. Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN) was in Raymond, New Hampshire on Saturday to meet voters. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), too, was in the state, bringing her message to the first-in-the-nation primary state.
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) made his Granite State debut this weekend, spending multiple days in the state. He held a town hall event in Portsmouth that attracted around 500 people. A house party in Manchester brought in 350 people. Events in Rochester and Conway brought in about 200 each. It was a strong beginning to the senator’s New Hampshire effort.
Most notably, for Saint Anselm students, were two major events on campus. One was the CNN Town Hall with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), which was held in the Dana Center on Monday night. That event was followed by a Politics & Eggs event at the Institute of Politics with Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), widely considered a front runner in the race.
Chairwoman of the Kevin B. Harrington Student Ambassador Program Julianne Plourde ‘20 shared her thoughts on the busy presidential campaign. She was at both the CNN Town Hall and the Politics & Eggs event. “Being able to attend the CNN Town Hall for Senator Klobuchar gave a preview into what the next year is going to be like on campus. It’s exciting knowing that having presidential candidates and national news networks walking around campus will be the usual.” The experience, she explained, is pretty unique to Saint Anselm. “No other school around is able to give their students these experiences on such a regular basis.”
During the town hall, Klobuchar answered questions, including one from Olivia Teixeira ‘20, the President of the New Hampshire College Democrats. Teixeira opened-up about what it was like to be on camera and ask the senator a question: “Asking a question for CNN was a great experience. Despite rumors that the questions were staged, that is not the case. They made sure we asked genuine questions that we submitted beforehand and were very accepting of all the questions we submitted.”
She asked the Minnesota senator to share her thoughts about gun safety legislation. The senator’s response left an impression on Teixeira, she said. “I appreciated Amy’s genuine emotion when responding to my question and the answer she gave was a very shared Democratic belief.” Overall, Teixeira said she was more likely to vote for Klobuchar because of how she did at the town hall.
Grace D’Antuono ‘19 also attended the CNN Town Hall. She said that while she’s not considering voting for Klobuchar, she went to “learn more and to be a part of the beginning of the 2020 campaign here on campus.” She was impressed by the senator’s answer to Teixeira’s question, noting that Klobuchar “understands recreational gun use and wants to protect that while still promoting screening for background checks and banning assault rifles.”
The morning after Senator Klobuchar’s town hall, Senator Harris was at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics for a Politics & Eggs event. Harris’ stop came after a town hall event in Portsmouth where many in line had to be turned away because there wasn’t enough capacity in the venue.
Harris addressed affiliates and members of the New England Council as well as students of Saint Anselm College before taking questions. Her remarks centered on three issues: middle-class tax relief, education reform, and climate change. She promised that, as a candidate for president, she would “speak truths” on the trail and be honest with the American people.
She opened her speech by addressing questions that she would not seriously contest the New Hampshire primary. Harris denied these rumors, saying she plans on competing in New Hampshire and that she intends to do “very well” in the nation’s first primary.
Emily Burns ‘22 was in the audience on Tuesday. She said she was “really excited” to see Harris come to the hilltop. Burns thought the senator “spoke incredibly eloquently” and said she seemed “very presidential.”
Despite her glowing review of Harris’ performance, Burns was unsure that she would support the candidate down the road. “I’m not totally sure yet,” she said when asked if she was leaning towards supporting the senator from California. “One of my big concerns is prison reform and while she spoke about that, she has a kind of questionable past in that area,” Burns explained.
The controversy over Harris’ past as a prosecutor has been a major factor in the race so far, with some questioning whether Harris’ commitment to criminal justice reform can be genuine given her past. For her part, the candidate embraced her record during her speech at Politics & Eggs, talking about how she was inspired to become a prosecutor by some lawyers of the Civil Rights Movement, including Thurgood Marshall.
In a recent poll conducted by Saint Anselm College, Harris was viewed the third-most favorably by New Hampshire voters. She only trailed former Vice President Joe Biden (D-DE) and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT). Sanders announced a presidential campaign on Tuesday.
The 2020 presidential election is in full swing. This week was a busy one for prospective candidates. On Tuesday, Michael Bloomberg (D-NY), traveled to the hilltop for a Bookmark Series event, hosted by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics in conjunction with the New England Council. Bloomberg spoke about his 2017 book Climate of Hope and outlined his thoughts on global climate change.
After first meeting with Saint Anselm students and taking a photo, Bloomberg addressed a packed auditorium. The former New York City mayor admitted he is actively considering a presidential campaign. He told WMUR that he expects his decision to be made by the end of February.
In his remarks Tuesday, Bloomberg eschewed the glowing rhetoric of Kamala Harris’ Oakland announcement and instead spent his time proving his knowledge of climate change. During the question and answer portion, the potential candidate also spoke to a need to greater fund the arts.
His tour of New Hampshire continued beyond Saint Anselm. He went to Nashua, Dover, and Concord before heading home to New York.
There was a multitude of Saint Anselm students in the audience on Tuesday. One of them, Jackson Lawler-Sidell ’22, is a Republican voter who seemed to appreciate what Bloomberg had to say, specifically mentioning how Bloomberg addressed the future of the coal industry. “With the recent surge in the elimination of coal plants, it’s reassuring to see that someone is looking out for the families involved in the coal industry,” he said.
Lawler-Sidell continued, “Switching from coal to other cleaner energy solutions is something that needs to happen if we want to save our planet, but there needs to be a system in place to provide new jobs for families in the coal industry.”
Another New Yorker, Kirsten Gillibrand, was in Manchester on Friday at Stark Brewing Company. After grabbing a beer, Gillibrand addressed a standing-room-only crowd. In her remarks, Gillibrand spoke of her desire to fight for America’s children. She took on President Trump directly, on issues ranging from immigration to divisive rhetoric. She promised voters she was up to the task of taking on Trump and leading the nation, “I promise you I have never backed down from a fight. It does not matter who I am fighting against it is who I am fighting for.”
During the question and answer segment, Gillibrand touted her record of legislative accomplishment. She cited her history of working with conservative Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) on legislation addressing sexual assault. As president, Gillibrand said she would work hard to bring the nation together.
She also addressed her desire to fight for criminal justice reform, pointing to the racism inherent in the current system. Specifically, she mentioned the discrepancies in sentencing for marijuana possession. She said that in New York, African-Americans are more likely to go to jail and face longer sentences than their white counterparts. As part of her plan, Gillibrand will work to decriminalize marijuana and end cash bail. Her promises on criminal justice reform drew loud applause from the room of Democrats.
Among her other proposals, Gillibrand called for publicly-funded elections, a repeal of the Hyde Amendment, and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The senator is still in the exploratory phase of her campaign but intends to roll out more policy as she prepares to formally enter the race.
Saint Anselm student Emily Burns ’22 came away from the event impressed with the senator. “As a New Yorker, it was super exciting to be able to see and meet my senator, but also to be able to hear in person her stances on various issues that are important to me,” she said. Burns continued, “I’m excited to see how her presidential run goes, and I’m excited to support her along the way!”
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.
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.
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.
Former Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Julián Castro was on campus Wednesday to outline his vision if he wins the presidency. Castro is the most prominent announced candidate for the Democratic nomination, but the field is quickly growing. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) has also announced she is running while Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) formally explore potential candidacies. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) is also scheduled to announce her entry into the race on or around MLK Day. Speculation continues to swirl around former Vice President Joe Biden (D-DE), Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX).
Castro is the former Mayor of San Antonio, Texas. In his speech Wednesday, Castro talked about the experience of his grandmother’s immigration to the United States and the opportunities she built for her daughter and grandsons. He has tied this personal narrative into the issues he cares most about.
In addition to his personal narrative, Castro spoke about a variety of issues he hopes to address as president. He called for universal pre-kindergarten and talked about when he passed the program in San Antonio, asking his constituents to agree to a sales tax increase to pay for it. His emphasis on early childhood education earned applause from the room.
Castro also spoke about criminal justice reform, climate change, and affordable housing. Questions in the audience centered on how Castro plans to pay for his ambitious agenda, mental health, and veterans’ affairs.
Julianne Plourde ’20, who is a New Hampshire primary voter, reacted positively to most of Castro’s remarks. “It was promising to hear a candidate want to talk about problems that are often ignored, such as our affordable housing issues,” she said before continuing, “He’s definitely someone I want to learn more about after his speech.”
Politics & Eggs is as much a New Hampshire tradition as it is a Saint Anselm one. It is hosted at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on campus in conjunction with the New England Council. It frequently features top political minds and nearly, if not all, presidential candidates.