Trump Weighs Options in Syria

Within the next 24 hours, President Donald Trump will be unveiling his administration’s response to news that the Syrian government has used chemical warfare on its people. The president announced that he was canceling a scheduled trip to Latin America so that he could focus on the developments in the Middle East. On Monday, he said his response would come within 48 hours. The clock is now ticking.

Most foreign policy experts seem to anticipate the president announcing a targeted airstrike, but that option may carry risks. Russia has said it will use military force against the United States if it attacks Syria, raising the possibility of a far more devastating international conflict. Russia has aligned itself with the Assad regime in Syria, which is the existing government in the nation that has been rocked by civil war since 2011.

Members of the Trump Administration have had harsh words for Russia and its support of Assad’s government. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley accused Russia of being complicit in the recent chemical attack, saying that Russia’s hands were “covered in the blood of Syrian children.” Haley’s comments are emblematic of the rising tensions between the United States and Russia over the matter of Syria. Despite the Trump Administration’s relationship with Russia, Ambassador Haley told the United Nations that the United States would respond. The nature of the response, however, remains unclear. She even went as far as to say that Russia itself may face repercussions from the United States.

The president took to Twitter to denounce Assad’s chemical attack, calling the Syrian leader “Animal Assad.” It remains to be seen how the president’s language will translate into a formal response to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons.

Cover photo taken from NBC News.

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.

#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.

‘Roseanne’ Revival Sweeps Nation, Including the Hilltop

Reporters and commentators were abuzz with news that the ‘Roseanne’ revival on ABC proved itself to be a ratings juggernaut, breathing life into the dying broadcast cable industry. The revival picks up twenty years after where the original ‘Roseanne’ left off. In its first run, from 1988-1997, ‘Roseanne’ was popular. It was #1 in the Nielsen ratings during its first year. TV Guide chose one of its episodes for its list of 100 Greatest Episodes of All-Time when it compiled the list in 1993.

In the two decades ‘Roseanne’ was off the air, a lot changed in the television industry. More and more viewers switched from broadcast networks like ABC to other cable stations, premium stations like HBO, and eventually to online streaming services, like Netflix. The gravitation away from traditional networks like ABC is part of why the enormous success of the ‘Roseanne’ arrival has attracted national attention.

Yet, there’s another reason. The show is inherently political. Roseanne Barr, a former presidential candidate herself, plays the main character of the show and has become an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump. The show’s Conner family has long reflected the type of white working-class family that tended to support Trump and largely propelled him to victory. Many expected that the modern Conner family would again bring flyover country back into the national spotlight. It has.

The new season’s first episode brings politics to the forefront. Roseanne says she considers her sister, Jackie, dead because she voted for Hillary Clinton. Jackie later reveals she actually voted for Jill Stein because Roseanne made her doubt her support for Hillary. When Jackie shows up for dinner, she is wearing one of the famous ‘pussy hats’ that were popularized during the Women’s March. Her shirt is pink with the words “Nasty Woman” in bold lettering. At dinner, Roseanne thanks God for “making America great again” while saying grace.

Like the original broadcast, the show also confronts pressing cultural issues. Roseanne’s grandson, Mark, identifies as a man and is biologically male, but chooses to wear skirts and other clothing typically associated with women. The season’s second episode primarily deals with Mark going to school and the Conner family’s effort to support their grandson even though his feminine style is clearly outside of what they expected from a grandson.

All of the national commentary about the show’s meaning left The Hilltopper wondering a simple question: What do Saint Anselm College students make of the ‘Roseanne’ revival? Survey respondents represent a limited sample of the College and the results are not scientific, but they offer some possible answers to the question.

Of the 39 people who took the survey, 59% of respondents said they had seen or were going to watch the ‘Roseanne’ revival. Forty-one-percent of respondents said they had not seen it and were not planning on watching it. Nearly half of those who said they were going to watch it or had watched it said they liked the show’s political message and that was a motivating factor for why they saw it. One-third of those who watched it said they watched because they used to watch ‘Roseanne’ reruns while growing up.

Surprisingly, the majority of respondents who said they watched the show for its political message were Democrats. All of the Democrats who liked the show’s message identified as politically moderate. Those who identified as liberal or very liberal were significantly less likely to identify with the show’s political message, as one would expect.

For most of the Saint Anselm students who took the survey, the politics of ‘Roseanne’ did not weigh heavily on their decision to watch the show.

Given the tendency of college students to stream shows from Netflix and Hulu, it is interesting that nearly 3 in 5 Saint Anselm students turned on the television to watch the ‘Roseanne’ revival. This statistic is likely skewed. Those who took The Hilltopper’s survey likely had some kind of relationship to the show. The survey was made available on The Hilltopper’s Facebook page. Students who have gone out of their way to “like” the page in the first few days of its creation are likely more well-read on national news than the general student population.

The show was successful even in the key demographic, which includes college students. It seems natural that the show, which broke a record for being viewed within the first 72-hours of airing, would also trickle into the Saint Anselm community. Saint Anselm’s response to the show seems perfectly average.

(The picture accompanying this article was taken from Vanity Fair).

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.

#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.