Meet The Candidates: Merrick Bilodeau ’23, Vice President

As one of two candidates for the position of Vice President of the Class of 2023, Merrick Bilodeau is focused on building relationships with her peers, and learning “about the passions and goals of all of our students”. Merrick wants voters to know that she is looking out for them and that she wants her peers to “consider Saint As their home, and our class, their family”.

Photo courtesy of Merrick Bilodeau

As a student leader throughout her high school experience, she is confident in her abilities to take on the role of Class Vice President.  She also explained that her leadership positions in her high school’s Spanish club, Student Emergency Response Team, and on the Relay For Life planning committee taught her a great deal about how to be a leader, but also how to be a follower. Merrick defined leadership as “learning to take in others’ ideas and incorporate them into a collaborative project that helps and pleases the common good”. 

On the topic of fundraising and event planning, Merrick discussed her experiences managing finances and running service events for clubs in high school. She explained that based on her experience, event nights would be the best way to engage students and make fundraisers successful. She suggested hosting paint nights, bowling nights, and partnering with local restaurants.  

Merrick’s favorite event on campus is the Meelia Center’s Foster and Adoptive Parents Night Out (FAPNO) because she enjoys entertaining the kids, but also because it’s “a simple and fun way to help our community!”. That sense of community is also what Merrick enjoys most about being at Saint A’s. She said, “Our students truly exemplify the Benedictine values, as hospitality and humility surround our campus every day.”

Merrick is one of two candidates running to be the Vice President of the class of 2023. She is a member of the Student Nursing Association and the SAC EMTs. Voting will be held Monday and Tuesday in Davison and CShop.

Meet The Candidates: Ben Mickens ’23, Senate

Focused on financial responsibility and transparency, Ben Mickens is one of two candidates to represent the Class of 2023 in the Student Senate. Ben is hoping to establish himself as an accessible and reliable leader within his class. This desire has manifested itself within Ben’s goals for the upcoming Senate term: increase student participation in class events, encourage students to become engaged in Student Government, and create efficient and consistent communication between the Class Council and the student body.

Photo courtesy of Ben Mickens

When asked about his qualifications for the position, Ben pointed to multiple years of experience in his high school planning events and fundraisers while also participating in the mock trial program. He also spoke about his optimism for the year, recognizing the professionalism of everyone within SGA, as well as the unique opportunity to discuss campus-wide issues in the Senate.

Ben said that as he was campaigning and collecting nomination signatures he spoke with students about possible issues. He gave the example of a student who had been fearful that his meal plan was not as large and extensive as it should be. Ben also took the opportunity to provide a few personal areas of concern. He wanted to ensure that the college was not being wasteful when funding projects, and said that financial responsibility was of the utmost importance. To Ben, this is not only important for the school’s pocketbook, but it is also a matter of making sure that students’ tuition is not increasing unnecessarily. 

On the issue of student engagement, Ben said that it would be nearly impossible to “get the school involved if we can’t get our class involved”. He suggested that rather than strictly advertising on social media or contacting people via email, the Class Council should take advantage of their unique situation and personally communicate within freshmen dorms on campus such as Dominic Hall and Joan of Arc Hall. He also noted that students are not generally apathetic as much as they are simply uninformed. Ben said: “They’re open to being engaged”, and insisted the Class Council should do everything it could to directly engage them.

Ben also considered those communication strategies to be a two-way street, pointing out that students should be able to bring ideas for events and fundraisers directly to their council. Ben remarked, “When someone has an idea, as a leader you support others ideas […] I’m always open to talk, I have an open-door policy”. He also suggested community partnerships to assist the class in raising funds. 

Aside from his participation in SGA, Ben is also a member of the Saint Anselm College Republicans, the Abbey Players, and the Honors Program. He is one of two candidates running to represent the Class of 2023 in the Student Senate, and voting will be held Monday and Tuesday in Davison and CShop.

Meet The Candidates: Stefan Zwolinski ’23, President

Stefan Zwolinski is a confident candidate for President of the Class of 2023. Stefan, who has formed his campaign around active communication and selfless leadership, said in his interview with the Hilltopper: “Actions speak louder than words. Acting on what we as candidates say is the most important thing, and it’s up to the voters to determine who does that best.” 

When asked about his qualifications for the position, Stefan pointed to his past experiences in high school student government. He remarked that it had not always been easy, and at times during his junior and senior year he had been required to work within a team which had inefficiencies and it forced him to take on more responsibilities. On how he views the Presidency, Stefan said: “It’s a challenge for me, and it’s something I challenge myself to do […] this is something I’ve come to be passionate about”. Stefan would go on to emphasize the passion and the need for passionate leaders. 

Photo courtesy of Stefan Zwolinksi

This passion could be seen in his goals for the year: building and strengthening personal relationships with his constituents, opening consistent pathways of communication, and maintaining a strong work ethic as a group. He said that as a council “We’re not going to stop working no matter what”, and that he wants “everyone to have their voice in determining their future”. 

If you had the opportunity to see Stefan’s speech Wednesday night, it should be no surprise that he is a strong supporter of the Saint Anselm athletic community. He remarked that he’d had multiple conversations with students who had wanted to create more club sports on campus, as well as increasing funding and support for those clubs. One example he highlighted, was an instance in which the Club Soccer team had been denied their request for SGA to fund their transportation to and from their games. 

Stefan also pointed out the need for more effective methods of communication from his class. He suggested appointing a Communications Manager, as social media was a viable means of communication and something everyone has access to. When asked specifically about the turnout at the candidates’ speeches Wednesday night, Stefan said: “We’re all to blame for not telling people about speeches”. He elaborated on that statement by saying that it was partially SGA’s responsibility and fault for poorly advertising the event, but part of the issue falls back on the Freshmen candidates themselves for not encouraging more people to attend the event. He said clearly: “I think they could’ve done a better job, but if we want our voices to get heard it’s our responsibility”.

On the topic of fundraising and event planning, Stefan said that he was going to be looking towards Student Body President Joshua Hughes, and other seasoned SGA veterans for advice and guidance. However, Stefan argued that though the role of the President was to lead class activities, it wouldn’t stop him from supporting his peers in the Senate and advocating for issues he was passionate about. He said, “being President isn’t just about fundraising and events” and that he hoped to go above and beyond the typical model of Class President. 

Stefan is one of two candidates for the position of President of the Class of 2023. Voting will be held Monday and Tuesday in Davison and CShop.

Meet The Candidates: Emily Dickey ’23, President

Emily Dickey is one of two candidates running to be the President for the Class of 2023. In her campaign speech, which she delivered Wednesday, Emily spoke briefly about the common emotions freshmen have when coming to college. She discussed the feelings of worry, sadness, and uncertainty that accompanied her on her way to Saint Anselm, but she pointed out that those feelings did not last long. She said simply, “I have found a new family here” and that she was “thrilled with the choice to become an Anselmian”. She went on to say that “There’s a strength here, and people just want to progress and grow and help others” and that she’s “never met a group of people so committed to being better individuals every day”.

When asked about her goals for the year, Emily highlighted the obvious need to engage with students and increase student participation. One of her main goals is to learn more about Saint Anselm and SGA in what she called “the trial and error year”. She explained that as freshmen she and her peers have a great deal to learn, but they are also afforded a host of new and exciting opportunities.

Photo courtesy of Emily Dickey

Emily spoke about the unique perspective she was hoping to bring to her class council by bringing up her favorite quote: “Move the needle”. She said that she always kept this in mind as she was a leader in student government all throughout high school. Now, in college, she is hoping to bring that same attitude not simply to move her needle, but to “do things that’ll help other people move their needle in life”. 

On the subject of student engagement, Emily said that there were multiple factors behind the apparent lack of interest among her peers. The first, she said, was that people simply didn’t know enough about the school yet to take a major stake in it and work towards solving issues around campus. Secondly, she mentioned that it was SGA’s job to “get the kids out there”; she was referencing the traditional formatting of SGA candidate speeches being held in an auditorium, only available to those willing to come and watch. Emily suggested that it would be possible to stream speeches to multiple areas around campus – Davison, CShop, and the Student Center. She mentioned that the current format made her, and her fellow candidates, feel hidden and secluded. The solution to the issue of low student turnout, in Emily’s mind, is utilizing the power of word of mouth and directly asking students to participate. As she mentioned in her speech and reiterated in her interview, Emily believes the best way to engage with students is to identify an active core group of students that can motivate their peers and bring students to events.

Emily is one of two candidates for the position of President of the Class of 2023. Voting will be held Monday and Tuesday in Davison and CShop.

Communication, Participation Become Key Issues In Freshman Elections

Candidates for the Class Council of 2023 gathered in the Jean Center Auditorium Wednesday night to pitch their vision of leadership to their peers. The freshman class arrived on campus just over four weeks ago; in which time they have begun to participate in student clubs and organizations, oriented themselves to campus life, and established themselves as Anselmians. As is custom at Saint Anselm College, a select few students have stepped forward in hopes of representing their class in the Student Government Association – the governing voice of students on campus. 

As the crowd of approximately 35 students of different classes eagerly awaited the candidates’ speeches, one could not help but notice the apparent lack of freshmen present. This was noted by multiple candidates throughout the duration of the speeches; as the seven speakers began to focus their message around communication and engagement. 

Delaney Flanagan, the sole candidate for the position of Secretary spoke about her past experiences and leadership qualifications, as well as her desire to represent her class in SGA. Flanagan at one point remarked that their goal as a class should be to “make the hilltop a home for all of us”. 

Eric O’Connor and Ben Mickens, both senate candidates for 2023 discussed the need for a representative governing body. O’Connor stated “the student’s interests are my interests”, and Mickens echoed his peer’s sentiments by explaining that he had been motivated to run for office in order to “fully commit” to being at Saint Anselm College. Being that O’Connor and Mickens are the only two candidates running for the four open senate seats, a reality the Class of 2023 may face is attending their first senate meeting with only half of their delegation. One audience member asked the two young candidates how exactly they were planning on filling those vacant senate seats. They remarked that for the time being, they would simply be forced to “do twice the work”, but no clear strategies or suggestions were given.

The first students of the night to run opposed were vice-presidential candidates Andrew Gianattasio and Merrick Bilodeau. Gianattasio presented a bold vision of the position of Vice President, explaining that it was not the most glamorous position, but it was easily the most important. He termed the position “Super Senator” and asserted that on any issue facing students, SGA needed to fully commit to changing the situation. In a similar manner to her opponent, Bilodeau also focused on the importance of the position and began by saying that the question Anselmians should be asking themselves is “How can we be better?”. She also suggested campaigns focused on kindness and school spirit to increase student involvement. 

The final students to speak, presidential candidates Emily Dickey and Stefan Zwolinski each emphasized the strong sense of community on campus, and they pointed out the importance of selfless leadership. Dickey began by saying she was proud to be an Anselmian and that her mission should she be elected would be to enact changes that would be, in her words, “not only better for me, but better for our class”. In his speech, Zwolinski attempted to set himself apart from what may be viewed as the traditional presidential candidate. He asserted that he was “not going to be the typical president”, and that the features of his presidency would include selfless leadership, constant and efficient communication, and strong will. One audience member asked the two presidential candidates about their power to appoint other non-elected members of their council – specifically what position they would seek to create as a part of that council. Zwolinski answered first by pledging to appoint a communications manager responsible for networking, outreach and bringing people together. Dickey, on the other hand, argued that it was unrealistic to believe that everyone in the class would be an active participant and that the class council simply “can’t get everyone.” She suggested instead that it would be more productive to identify groups of active students and engage with them directly in hopes that they would, in turn, gain the support of their peers. She ended by promising to appoint a social media director responsible for public outreach. 

As the week-long campaigns for the positions of Secretary, Senator, Vice President, and President begin, all eyes will be on the candidates. Now, the question becomes this: who will win the election, and will they prove to be the leader their class needs? 

If you’re interested in learning more about the candidates, their goals, and the election of the Class of 2023, please follow the Hilltopper on social media and at our website as we will be posting interviews with the candidates in the coming days. 

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SAC Class of 2023 Arrives On Campus

We, here at The Hilltopper would like to extend a warm welcome to this year’s Freshman class. As you arrive on campus and begin your Anselmian journey keep in mind these three things: the value of community, the value of service, and the value of inclusivity. These three things are paramount to the success of Saint Anselm as an institution, and we strive everyday to ensure we serve our community and provide a welcoming and accommodating home for our students. You have a unique opportunity to determine exactly where you fit within the fabric of our community.

As a member of the Saint Anselm Community you should explore opportunities to get involved on campus and within your residence halls. RA’s are frequently holding community building events where you can get to know your fellow Anselmians. You can also join various clubs on campus or attend different club sponsored events throughout the year. Regardless of your interests there is always something happening here on campus.

Perhaps one of the things that defines Saint Anselm College the most is our dedication to and encouragement of service to others. Take time out of your busy schedules to volunteer in the community. We have a plethora of volunteer opportunities and positions at the Meelia Center. Do your part to serve your fellow community members on and off campus.

The last thing to keep in mind is that at SAC we are each responsible for making others feel welcome in our home. Respect your neighbors, peers, and professors, as well as the hundreds of Saint Anselm employees who are responsible for the day to day operations of the college. We all have an obligation to continue our tradition of Benedictine hospitality. Regardless of our backgrounds, interests, or abilities we are all Anselmian.

Welcome to Saint Anselm College, we’re all excited you’re here.