Yes, Flint Still Exists; Yes, Their Water is Still Contaminated

As of April 24, 2018, Flint, Michigan has been three years without clean water. That’s 1,000 days without adequate water to shower, cook, or even drink.

Here’s a refresher on why:

In April of 2014, Flint officials decided to switch their water supplier in order to save money. While the new pipeline was under construction, water from the Flint River was channeled into the city.

In May, some residents noticed a strange discoloration, taste, and smell to their water.

In August, bacteria were discovered in Flint’s water. The response to this issue? A suggestion to boil the water before using it.

In October, the General Motors plant based in Flint said it would stop using the city’s water because of concern of corrosion. For cars. (Can you imagine what this does to the inside of a human?)

We enter 2015. In January, the Detroit Water and Sewage Department extended an offer to reconnect Flint to the Lake Huron water source. Flint officials declined because they were concerned about future costs.

In February 2015, the EPA tested Flint’s water and found dangerously high levels of lead. Long-term effects of lead poisoning include heart, kidney, and nerve disfunction, as well as cognitive, behavioral, and health issues in growing children. Other effects include a higher risk of cancer, birth defects, blood poisoning, miscarriages, and skin conditions.

Meanwhile, the governor, mayor, and other Flint officials continue to argue that the water is perfectly safe.

From September through October several rounds of testing proved the water was unsafe. Flint finally switched back to the Detroit water supply.

In November, residents filed a lawsuit against 14 state and city officials under the claim that they knowingly exposed citizens to toxic levels of lead.

In December, Flint declared a state of emergency.

As 2016 rolled around, then-President Obama declared a state of emergency for the city. This allowed FEMA to help supply water, filters, and other related materials. As the year continued, numerous city officials as well as the EPA and several corporations, are indicted on criminal charges for endangering lives. In April 2016, the water still tested positive for high levels of lead (this was in part because residents would have to use the water in order to flush out the contaminated water).

In February 2017, a report entitled “The Flint Water Crisis: Systematic Racism Through the Lens of Flint” was released. This document asserted that the decision to switch to an unknown water source in order to save money was at least in part due to the history of racism in the United States. Ask yourself: would this have occurred in a predominantly white community?

In March, it was announced that Michigan will pay to replace the corroded or contaminated water pipes.

In April of this year, the free bottled water program ended with the assurance that the water supply in Flint is now safe to drink.

Yet, if you ask any Flint resident, they will tell you that this issue is far from over. In addition to the effects of continued lead exposure, many residents have experienced an increase in diseases and internal bleeding. Listing the plethora of dangers Flint residents still face would take longer than this article has, so I implore you to please do your research, and if you are able, please donate here, or here, or here!

And if you can’t? Use your voice. Remind people that Flint still exists, as do so many other communities in the United States in the same situation. Water is a basic human right. There should be no “acceptable” level of lead or any other pollutant.

We joke about Polio Pit here at Saint Anselm. Imagine having to live with that—worse than that. Flint deserves our attention. Flint deserves to be heard. All marginalized and struggling communities deserve respect, and they deserve the most basic requirements of life.

Sound carries over water. We have water, so let’s make sure this message is heard loud and clear.

Photo taken from International Business Times.

Stagnone Opposes Efforts to Strip Students of Right to Vote in NH

Perhaps our greatest expectation of higher education should be that our colleges help to shape citizens who are actively and purposefully engaged in the communities which they choose to be a part of throughout their lives. The institutions of higher learning here in New Hampshire are rather exceptional at this. As a student at Saint Anselm, I have been proud to tell friends and family that my college is ranked #5 in the nation for community service by The Princeton Review, and that each year, more than 900 Saint A’s students provide over 18,000 hours of service in the Manchester area. Our college likewise prides itself on being a hub for political activity, and while frequent events and debates on campus are highly attended, myself and many of my peers have gone above and beyond to volunteer on local campaigns, intern in constituent services for New Hampshire’s elected officials, and get involved in activism.

A number of out-of-state college students around New Hampshire have off-campus jobs and internships. Students live in the state for at least nine months out of the year, where they shop, dine, rent apartments, and otherwise contribute to the economy. They have collectively donated tens of thousands of hours volunteering in New Hampshire’s schools, hospitals, prisons, youth programs, and nursing homes. Out-of-state college students are even counted in the state’s census, which forms the basis for federal aid and the makeup of voting districts. The point I wish to make is that New Hampshire’s college students are a part of the communities surrounding their schools in just about every way possible, and their contributions to these communities are extremely meaningful. It is only reasonable that they be allowed to vote here, and as was established in Symm v. United States (1979), it is their constitutional right.

Some of New Hampshire’s lawmakers wish to exclude these students from having a voice their communities. Recently, the New Hampshire Senate voted to pass HB 1264, a bill that would change voting eligibility standards in the state. While HB 1264 only makes a small change in language to existing law, this change would mean that out-of-state college students voting in New Hampshire would have sixty days to become New Hampshire residents and pay the associated fees, or else face misdemeanor charges. Purchasing a New Hampshire driver’s license costs $50, and additional state and municipal fees could end up totaling hundreds of dollars. In a time when we should be doing all that we can to attract passionate young people to our state and keep them here, lawmakers are instead asking them to pay a fee– a poll tax– to participate in our democracy. They are telling young adults who live, study, work, volunteer, and set an example of civic engagement in our communities that their voices are not welcome.

HB 1264 comes in the wake of other similar bills, promoted by lawmakers who argue that we need to restore integrity to New Hampshire’s voting system and crack down on perceived voter fraud by creating stricter eligibility requirements. However, evidence shows that voter fraud in New Hampshire and across the country is extremely rare. Not to mention, there is nothing fraudulent whatsoever about college students voting in the state they live in for the majority of the year. The way I see it, our lawmakers are smart enough to understand that voter fraud is not a pressing issue in New Hampshire. They are also smart enough to be aware of the demographics that are more or less likely to vote for a particular party, and this is why they are targeting college students, who are often perceived as being more liberal. HB 1264 is not about election integrity but rather is an effort to intentionally shape a constituency to benefit the Republican Party.

Rather than attacking their voting rights, we should be encouraging civic engagement among college students and acknowledging with gratitude the immense value that they bring to our New Hampshire communities. Governor Chris Sununu has promised to veto any bill that would infringe upon college student’s voting rights, and students across New Hampshire will be waiting with expectations that he keeps his word.

Photo taken from Market Watch.

Golden: Every Day Should Be Earth Day

Caitlin Golden ’20 and Kait Brine ’20 holding signs in support of environmental awareness. (Courtesy of Caitlin)

On Sunday, April 22nd, the United States celebrated its 47th annual Earth Day, but this day is so much more than a picture of a mountain that came up on your Instagram feed. Earth Day is the celebration of a planet in peril. The 1970’s introduced the US to the phenomena of loving our earth, but Earth Day is crucial now more than ever. As we face a tense political environment and a revolution of growing climate skeptics, it is necessary that we educate our community and abolish ignorance regarding the fact that climate change is real.  Issues surrounding the current health of our planet range in topic and are deeply complex, and it is not expected that every student knows the ins-and-outs of this harsh reality, but it is imperative that we educate ourselves on ways we can help.

Basic education is the building block for the growth of any overlooked or misrepresented issue. The debate regarding global climate change has become an issue of “Do you believe?” when it should be a conversation surrounding the question, “Do you understand?” The process of educating oneself can both be simple and social, and attending clubs like Green Team and Social Justice Club can be great places to start.

Earth Day presents the perfect window to find the real facts about our climate and educate ourselves as we celebrate our common home. This increased knowledge leads to tangible change, as proper education provides the perfect foundation for awareness and advocacy. Raising awareness isn’t always about marching in major cities (though very important), but can be simple and fun!

On Sunday, for example, Social Justice Club met on the quad with other members of the community to paint rocks with environmentally minded pictures or facts about our planet’s condition. The hope was that scattering these around campus would provide a subtle, but very powerful message about global climate change. In addition, other ways to raise awareness and potentially actualize change can come from keeping up to date on proposed policies regarding environmental regulation and contacting local senators or representatives to voice your opinion on the matter at hand.

While Earth Day is a very important day, the fight against climate change must become something that is talked about each and every day. This dialogue can be sparked by increased education regarding the issue, especially to people who would otherwise be without such opportunities. Earth Day, a day when people come together to have this conversation, should serve as a model for students to continue the important discussions about how to care for our common home – a discussion that I believe Saint Anselm College should have.

Lyons Calls on Anselmians to Attend LGBTQ+ Events

Although the semester on the Hilltop is coming to a close, the next few weeks are full of on-campus events. LGBTQ+ issues have been a common topic of conversation this semester, and three upcoming events seek to celebrate every diverse and unique individual on campus.

The first event, occurring next Tuesday from 4:00-6:00 in Perini, is a panel composed of identifying students. This will be the first of many events put on by the new True Equality and Dignity Alliance. Kelsey Warner, T.E.D.A. President says of the event, “The Purpose of the LGBTQ+ Anselmians panel is to make the ‘other’ familiar in community. It is often so easy for any person to make generalizations about a community without knowing the people that decision may affect. As such, we are hoping to show the community that not only do identifying students exist on this campus, they are heavily involved, recognizable Anselmians. We are trying to facilitate a community discussion, but also encourage people to ask questions of the LGBTQ+ panelists to clarify assumptions or stereotypes about the community. Ultimately, we are trying to show that this group is a part of the Anselmian community, and want that community to be as informed as it can be about the individuals that are a part of it.”

The next event is a celebration of LGBTQ+ individuals. Sophomore RA Matt Solomon has worked with dozens of individuals from all reaches of the Saint Anselm community to make this event a success. “LGBTQ+ Visibility Day is an effort to showcase the support of the Saint Anselm community for LGBTQ+ Anselmians. The lack of visible support for the LGBTQ+ community is a large factor in their high suicide and homelessness rates. This event is a celebration of the overwhelming love and unity we share as Anselmians. Yet it also serves as a message for those on campus who may not feel comfortable publicly expressing themselves on campus that they are welcome here. We will have music, yard games, snow cones, a LOT of food, raffles, a performance by Hint of Lime, and much more!” Matt says. Keep an eye out for this monumental event next Thursday from 4:00-6:00 on the Alumni Quad!

Finally, in keeping with tradition, Saint Anselm College will participate in a national Day of Silence. T.E.D.A. treasurer and junior education/English double major Abby Garland sheds some light on what Day of Silence means: “Day of Silence is an annual day of action that holds the purpose of bringing awareness to the effects that bullying and harassment have on those students of the LGBTQ+ community. By taking a day-long vow of silence, those who participate stand with the LGBTQ+ students who have been silenced. This day is more than an excuse to not talk in class. This day is for showing support and giving recognition to those that have been made to feel that they have no voice.” T.E.D.A. will have a table in Davison with more information as well as stickers that students and faculty can take to show support.

I know that the last few weeks of the semester are insanely busy for college students, but if you find yourself with a free moment, I urge you to stop by these three events. At a time when there is so much conflict surrounding LGBTQ+ issues, it is important to reassure identifying students that they have a place on the Hilltop. While each event seeks to explain and celebrate the other, at the end of the day, we are all Anselmians.

Lyons: Dear LGBTQ Students

Dear LGBTQ Students,

This letter is to let you know that you have a right to be here.

I know that this campus doesn’t always feel welcoming. Sometimes our value of Benedictine hospitality doesn’t extend as far as it should. If you’re in the closet, you know that there are people who “disagree” with who you are. If you’re out, you might have faced backlash or judgment from students, professors, or organizations on campus. I know I’ve heard many hurtful things from students and faculty alike.

So, I’m here to remind you that you have a right to be here. We have a right to be here. I swear to you that there are so many people on this campus who support you wholeheartedly and will fight for you with everything they have. There are more LGBTQ students and professors than you may know.

I get how it feels to be in an environment that in many cases does not accept you. We are barred from certain positions or spaces because of who we are. That is called discrimination and it is wrong. I know some days it may feel like nothing is changing. But look at history. We still have a long way to go to overcome racism, but just in the past fifty years, we have made huge strides. It’s frustrating, it’s unjust, it’s exhausting, but I promise that we will get there. Just the fact that you’re here, whether you’re out or not, deserves major praise. (And especially to LGBTQ students of color, you’re fighting two battles at once and you often go unrecognized and uncelebrated. Please let me know if there’s anything I, and this school, can do to be a better ally).

Some days you wake up feeling completely confident (or at least pretty sure) with yourself and who you are. Other days, you wake up and find you’re under attack from people who don’t understand what it means to be LGBTQ+. It’s a pain in the ass, but we’re going to have to teach those people. And the best way to do that is by existing as yourself and being proud of your identity (it doesn’t matter if you’re out or not, you make a difference just by being at this school).

Say it with me. Right now. In your head if you want (or you can go scream this from the Alumni Quad, major props if you do):

“I have the right to be who I am without fear of discrimination. I have the right to openly, boldly show my identity without fear of judgment. I have the right to be without fear. I have the right to be.”

We are so damn valid. We are so damn awesome. We are so gonna change the world, starting with this campus.

Yours in resistance to all injustice,
Jenna Lyons

#WhyIWrite: Megan Miller

Female empowerment is at the core of who I am. Since my freshman year here at Saint A’s, I have been volunteering on a crisis line advocating for victims of sexual assault over the phone and in person. After over two years, I may know how to handle more situations, but the work itself never gets easier. I am reminded time and again of the prevalence of sexual assault, both on and off the Hilltop. So when an article was released by the campus newspaper denouncing the existence of rape culture, I’d had enough. I needed something different.

For a while now, I have dreamed of something modeled after Middlebury’s website It Happens Here, where survivors of sexual assault share their stories. But I also have been reminded time and again of the importance of meeting my community where it’s at. There is a reason why sexual assault on this campus is so underreported, and it is clear that in many instances survivors are not willing or ready to come forward—and I don’t blame them.

But after reading this article denying rape culture, I needed something different, because I have witnessed rape culture firsthand. I need survivors to know that they matter and that we believe them. I need survivors to know that any unwanted kissing or touching is sexual assault, and they have every right to label it as such. I need survivors to know that there are people who will stand with them no matter what.

In many ways, I have been disheartened this year with the extreme back-and-forth that exists on this campus. It is time for a source that fosters truth and dignity and allows all voices to be heard—especially those that are systematically silenced.

Our school consistently preaches the Benedictine values of love, hospitality, and community. We fall short of honoring these values when individuals are left outside of this supposed circle of compassion. I write so that we may include everyone in the circle of compassion and truly exhibit Benedictine values. Cornel West once said, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” I write because I intend to love people in public.

#WhyIWrite: Nick Fulchino

In January of 2017 and 2018, I went to the Women’s March held in Concord, New Hampshire. Recently, on March 24, 2018, I was back in Concord at the March for Our Lives. I watched students my age raising their voices for a cause they believed in. I came away totally moved and inspired.

The next day, I wondered what I could do to make a difference on the issues I care about. Here, at Saint Anselm College, I think we have too many people on our campus who feel their voices are not heard. Meg and I vented about our frustration, and we decided it was time for us to step up and remodel the system. Starting The Hilltopper is completely outside of my comfort zone. I was the Editor-in-Chief of my high school newspaper, but starting a new media outlet on campus is far more radical than I usually am. However, I truly believe Saint Anselm College students deserve a place where they feel they can be heard.

I am not interested in a feud with other campus media outlets. This is not about them, it is about everyone on this campus. When Meg and I brainstormed a tagline for our new online newspaper, a friend helped us come up with “for everyone.” How fitting. We believe that Saint Anselm deserves a campus news outlet that treats everyone with dignity, is inclusive in the opinions it shares, and insists on transparency from the College. Also, we will always use the Oxford comma.

Today, and every day going forward, I write because I believe in the power of young people to effect the change they want to see. I write to lend a metaphorical microphone to those afraid this college doesn’t want to listen to them. I write to promote the Saint Anselm College I envision. It’s a school that takes seriously the Benedictine values of love and community.

Rest assured, The Hilltopper is not a blog for Meg and me to vent about things that bother us. We will do straight reporting, but it will be balanced with opinion pieces that emphasize the dignity of the individual. We sincerely hope you’re on board to be a part of the change with us. Let’s build the campus culture we want here on the hilltop.