“You’re Literally Causing Massive Public Scandal to the Knights and the Church”

Andrew Keyes (center) was an altar server and Grand Knight of the Saint Anselm College chapter of the Knights of Columbus until his recent resignation.

In recent weeks there has been confusion and controversy surrounding the events that transpired following the Knights of Columbus formal. On March 16, Andrew Keyes, who was the Grand Knight of the Council at the time, brought his boyfriend to the organization’s formal, which is held on campus in a member’s apartment. Shortly after, Keyes was asked to resign from his position as Grand Knight by Father Benedict Guevin, O.S.B.

In reflecting on the night of formal itself, Keyes explains that he was under the impression that everything went well. He was very clear that prior to the formal and in the first few days after, he had not been given any reason to believe bringing a male date would be a problem. This changed, however, when Keyes received a text the following Wednesday from Knights member Andrew Cilento which read, “1) you’re off serving 2) resign now as Grand Knight or I’m going to motion to have you removed.” A later text read, “you’re literally causing massive public scandal to the Knights and the Church.”

When asked to comment on these messages, Cilento admitted that he should have approached Keyes in person and attested to the difficulty of holding the position as Grand Knight. Cilento believes, “It was inappropriate for Mr. Keyes to hold a leadership position for a Catholic organization while being in a relationship that is contrary to the teachings of Holy Mother Church.” Despite fundamentally disagreeing with Keyes, Cilento issued a written statement saying, “I have always had great respect for Mr. Keyes, and I will continue to do so, regardless of this incident.”

In the same week as Keyes’ interaction with Cilento, Father Benedict, whom Keyes describes as a friend, contacted Keyes and requested a meeting off campus. At the end of what Fr. Benedict describes as a “lovely lunch,” he asked for Keyes’ resignation from his position as Grand Knight. Keyes’ actions led Fr. Benedict to believe his “hands were tied.” This decision came after multiple conversations with the Supreme Council.

Denying allegations of discrimination, Fr. Benedict explains that he was forced to ask for Keyes’ resignation due to the public nature of his acts. Because Keyes held a public position in a distinctly Catholic organization, he was expected to uphold Catholic values in his public life.

While many have said that this is a case of discrimination based on Keyes’ sexuality, Fr. Benedict believes that this is not the case, and “to throw around the word discrimination is unwise and untrue.” Fr. Benedict, as chaplain of the Council, is responsible for holding members to Catholic teaching. Because the Grand Knight is in an exemplary position, it is especially important that he be held to the standards of Catholic teachings. When Keyes brought a male date to the formal, he was contradicting Catholic teaching, according to Fr. Benedict. The act caused much anger and confusion within the group’s membership, especially among the younger members of the Knights.

Fr. Benedict reports that he received word that younger members were confused about how Keyes’ relationship related to the teachings of the church, and this contributed to Fr. Benedict’s request for Keyes’ resignation. Fr. Benedict was clear that he and older members of the Knights “know Mr. Keyes, we know what he’s like, we know what his reputation is.” However, younger members of the Council were confused because of Keyes’ failure to uphold the values of the Catholic Church while being in a public position of authority. Fr. Benedict explained this further. “When the Grand Knight comes in with his boyfriend you can imagine people saying, ‘What the fuck is that all about?’”

Fr. Benedict, as chaplain, had an obligation to respond to this confusion and bring clarity to the younger members of the Knights. This anger and confusion, along with urging from the Supreme Council, ultimately led to his request for Keyes’ resignation. Both Keyes and Fr. Benedict acknowledge that Keyes understood this reasoning and gracefully resigned.

Shortly after Keyes’ resignation, during Easter break, Fr. Benedict received word that many Knights were upset with the decision, claiming that Keyes was forced to resign and that this was an act of bigotry. Fr. Benedict cleared up these accusations by saying that Keyes was not forced to resign and that this is not an act of bigotry. When asked, however, what would have transpired if Keyes had not gracefully resigned, Fr. Benedict did not feel comfortable entering the realm of speculation, explaining that the Supreme Council had suggested something he was “not comfortable with.” Impeachment by a vote of the fellow knights, however, is not a specified procedure laid forth in their bylaws.

Many have claimed Keyes’ removal as Grand Knight is an attempt to avoid losing funding from the Supreme Council. The Financial Secretary of the Knights, Father Stephen Lawson, O.S.B., would like to make clear that, “The Saint Anselm College Knights of Columbus is entirely self-funded…  The notion that the Supreme Council (the national Knights organization) put financial pressure on the Saint Anselm Council is totally baseless and false because we do not receive money from our national organization.” Fr. Benedict echoes Fr. Stephen’s comments, explaining that if there is an exchange of funds, it is from the campus Council to the Supreme, not the other way around. The Knights also receive no funding from the College.

Thus, the reasoning for Keyes’ resignation is again brought back to the public display of his sexuality. Fr. Benedict maintains that “If Mr. Keyes were gay and private about it and kept his private life private, there would be no issue, but that’s not what Mr. Keyes chose to do.”

Amid questions about involvement from the ACLU, Fr. Benedict denies that he has had any contact with the ACLU. He further states that there is no reason for their involvement because this is not a case of discrimination.

Keyes, however, has received mixed reactions from members of the Knights. He expressed that the fact that he brought a male date, his boyfriend, to the Knights formal was “disgusting to a member or two.” Others have been supportive of Keyes, and Keyes says some knights have resigned in solidarity with him after the incident. Some members of the Knights have even gone as far as to suggest the Council should be dissolved, according to Keyes.

As the Catholic Church is forced to reconcile its teachings with the realities of the 21st century, questions about the Church’s beliefs and human sexuality continue to surface. The Saint Anselm community is especially susceptible to these debates because of its dual role as a monastery and place for scholarship. Keyes himself characterized the Catholicism at Saint Anselm as “traditionalist,” while reiterating Pope Francis’ question, “Who am I to judge?” It seems clear that, like the Church, Saint Anselm will be wrestling with these issues for years to come.

Jesse McCartney Concert Met with Mixed Feelings

The end of the academic year here at Saint Anselm is traditionally marked by the annual Spring Weekend celebration, which features a variety of events that usually include a concert hosted by the Campus Activities Board. CAB recently announced that the artist for this year’s Spring Weekend Concert is Jesse McCartney, a singer-songwriter who rose to stardom in the early 2000s.

McCartney gained popularity in the early 2000s. In 2003, he released his first solo album which featured one of his most popular songs to date, “Beautiful Soul.” His career as a teen heartthrob in the 2000s further increased with his guest appearances on Disney Channel shows such as Suite Life of Zack & Cody as well as Hannah Montana. This past March, McCartney released a new single, “Better With You,” which will also appear on his upcoming album.

The announcement of Jesse McCartney as the Spring Weekend artist was met with mixed reactions from the student body. Freshman Jordan Cook is looking forward to the concert. “I’ve heard a few of his songs when I was younger. He wasn’t my favorite artist but had some hits that I definitely didn’t mind listening to on the radio. I was a little bit surprised [when they announced Jesse as the artist] but a concert is a concert so I can’t complain with it. I do think it would be a great idea to give students more say in who we choose, like in an election.”

Sophomore Emily Provencher agreed about the need to involve students in the process. “I’d definitely like to see more input from the student body,” she said, “but I understand that this can be difficult when you can’t always disclose all the information. I enjoy a great throwback like Jesse, but I’m not sure I’d choose for it to be my whole concert experience.”

Sophomore Emerald Shea was not impressed by the artist selection for Spring Weekend. “At first when I heard that Jesse would be the artist, I thought it was a joke. Then I realized it was actually going to happen.” Emerald does not plan to attend the concert, citing different taste in music as her reason for skipping out. “I’d love to see different, more popular artists coming to our college, but understand that this isn’t always possible due to budgeting and school size.”

Other students, like senior Sam Brandeis, are planning to go to the concert even though they are not pleased with the artist. Sam has never been a die-hard fan of McCartney, but he plans to attend the concert regardless of who performs. “My first reaction to hearing Jesse McCartney was the Spring Weekend Artist was ‘I hope he shows up,’” Sam said, referencing the infamous T-Pain cancellation in 2016. “I have yet to be able to see an artist perform at spring weekend, and I hope McCartney is the exception. I honestly have nothing better to do.” Like his fellow students, he wishes that student input would be taken into account more but understood that “too many suggestions create too much havoc.”

Ryan Whalen, who is currently studying abroad and won’t be at the concert had a hard time masking his displeasure with the artist selection. “My first reaction was pure joy. I was and still am so happy I am not missing out on a real spring concert.” He went on to elaborate, “I am paying to come to the school and would like to have a say or vote on the artist.” Ryan says that he has brought this complaint up before and that he has been told to join CAB. “My reply is: I did join CAB for two and a half semesters and it was as though I had no voice,” he continued. Whalen went on to explain that he felt as though he never experienced a Spring Concert at Saint Anselm, “T pain cancels, Clean Bandit’s performance was nothing more than hip swinging, and now Jessie?”

Junior Alec Flynn posted this image in the SAC 2019 Class Facebook group to protest McCartney’s concert.

Some students took to social media to express their distaste with the announcement of McCartney as the headliner for Spring Weekend. Junior Alec Flynn was one of these students, posting in the Class of 2019 Facebook group that he would be boycotting the concert and encouraged other frustrated students to do the same. “I’m abhorred,” Alec said when asked what he thought of McCartney being hired as the concert artist. When asked if he was a fan of McCartney growing up, Flynn stated, “I liked the power rangers, too, but you don’t see me walking around campus in a red jumpsuit.” Alec Flynn, like other students, expressed a desire to see more input from students in the process but admits that this would be a difficult process, “Once you do that then there are hoops to jump through. CAB would say ‘okay here is who we can afford’ then when there’s a clear front-runner or someone not half-bad they would say ‘oh well his/her music isn’t very appropriate or Anselmian’ or whatever. Bottom line is this school has messed up a spring concert for 3 years in a row now, and there seems to be no one really calling them out for it.”

Abbie Reynolds, the student in charge of the Campus Activities Board, was transparent about the process for selecting a spring artist. “CAB works with a middle agent that gives us a list of artists that are within our budget, and then we are able to take a look at the list and decide on a couple of different artists. Our middle agent will go back and see if any artists are interested in us!” She explained that there are many factors that need to be taken into account when searching for artists, such as cost and finding artists willing to perform “a clean set that will respect our Benedictine and Catholic values.”

As for the planning process, there is a Spring Weekend Committee that consists of smaller sub-committees that handle specific areas of making the whole weekend of events possible. “The spring weekend committee as a whole is for anyone that wants to be involved in planning spring weekend.” When asked about input, Reynolds explained that due to contract negotiations, it is not possible for CAB to release information prior to the signing of the contract. However, all students are welcome to attend CAB meetings to voice their opinion.

“Our meetings are always open to the whole student body and we always want to hear student input! We always have members in CAB listening to what they hear in Dav or from their friends to get a gauge of what students want,” Reynolds said.

CAB relies entirely on student volunteers for all of the events they host on campus. CAB meetings are usually held on Wednesday nights and are open for all students to attend.

In addition to the Spring Weekend Concert, on April 26 CAB will be hosting a “Found Footage Festival,” which is a comedy show built off of old VHS tapes found at yard sales and thrift stores. “It’s like America’s Funniest Home Videos, but better!” Reynolds explained. In addition to this, there will be Paint Dance Party hosted by CAB and SGA on Saturday, April 28, the night after Jesse’s concert.

Cover image from Fairmont State University.

Hughes, Ethier Take the Helm of SGA

Jacob Ethier (left) congratulates Josh Hughes (right) after Hughes was sworn-in. (Photo provided by Josh Hughes ’20)

On Sunday, March 25, 2018, the Saint Anselm community gathered in the auditorium of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics for the annual Student Government Association Inauguration. The ceremony was significant because it marked the end of the two-year administration of President Emma Bishop and Vice President Brandon Pratt. Sophomores Joshua Hughes and Jacob Ethier were sworn-in to replace Bishop and Pratt.

The auditorium was standing room only as event organizers added new tables at the last minute to accommodate the larger-than-anticipated audience. Prior to Hughes and Ethier’s swearing-in, Dean of Students Alicia Finn made her remarks, comparing leadership to the experience of flying a kite. There were also several award winners. Matthew Masur of the History Department was awarded Professor of the Year. Wayne Currie of the Multicultural Center was awarded Administrator of the Year. Lorie Cochran, the administrative assistant in the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, received the award for Staff Member of the Year for the second time in her career.

In their remarks, President Emma Bishop and Vice President Brandon Pratt thanked the student body for the opportunity to serve the school community. Pratt called on the new Student Government Association to continue efforts for including all students in the Association. In the upcoming SGA term, three of the four vice presidents will be students of color – a first in the Association’s history. One of them, Class of 2021 Vice President Sashoy Powell, was honest about what she expects. “Having a couple more minorities in [the] Senate doesn’t really change much rather than the obvious fact that it’s a little diverse now,” she said. “Us as minorities now have a platform to voice our opinions and bring forth issues that other minorities face on our campus,” Powell continued. She also hopes that the increased diversity of the Senate will encourage more students of color to run.

For senior Vice President Sheila Ramirez, the increased presence of students of color is welcomed. After working with Wayne Currie and directly encouraging students to seek office in SGA, Ramirez said she is proud of the new makeup of SGA. “I’m really happy to see more diverse students on SGA. It breaks the stereotype that its only certain kinds of people [who] run,” she said. “I’m really honored that I had a hand in that.” As a graduating senior, the moment caps Ramirez’s three years of dedication to the Association. “I’m glad I’m leaving [SGA] better than I found it,” she concluded.

 After Pratt’s speech, Ethier was sworn-in as the new student body vice president. After, Josh Hughes was sworn-in as the new president. In his speech, Hughes talked about being humbled by the confidence students placed in him. He also used his speech to affirm some campaign promises he had made. The new president signaled that his administration intends to revisit resolutions already passed by SGA to make sure that the college is implementing them. Additionally, Hughes, a computer science major, said he hopes that SGA can develop a phone application that will provide information about “hilltop happenings, varsity sporting events, club sporting events, a live feed of cameras that view the length of lines for the grill and the coffee shop, and many more features.”

Hughes closed his speech with a nod to a saying he repeated throughout the campaign. “I want to end with a quote I said in my campaign speech and a quote that I have really started to live by, a quote that has really motivated me to take chances in every aspect of life chances I never knew I would have the guts to take. The quote is: ‘Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.’”

After thanking everyone who organized the event, Hughes told The Hilltopper he liked “that so many people from the St. A’s community came out to inauguration, not just people involved with it.”

Now, the Hughes/Ethier administration will guide their executive board nominations through confirmation by the SGA Senate. Among the nominations are Kerrin Norton, a junior who served as the Room & Board Chair in the second term of the Bishop/Pratt administration, for Chief of Staff. Norton has been spearheading SGA’s effort to improve campus handicap accessibility. Hughes and Ethier affirmed their administration’s support for Norton’s work and said they are prioritizing handicap accessibility in their year in office.