When Is The Vaccine Arriving On Campus? What We Know So Far.

Talk about the vaccine arriving to Saint Anselm College has been swirling on campus, but the vaccine might not be arriving any time soon. According to the COVID-19 support page on Canvas, the college may be getting the vaccine around March. But amid some road bumps in New Hampshire’s vaccine rollout, the likelihood seems slim. 

“I think I’d be surprised if [the vaccine arrives] in March,” said President Favazza. “I would say it’s more likely April or May than March, but we just don’t know. There’s so many unknowns with the vaccine rollout.” 

The estimated timeframe of New Hampshire’s vaccine distribution plan is heavily dependent on vaccine doses that are allocated from the federal government and how many people are vaccinated. 

The state of New Hampshire is currently in Phase 1B of it’s vaccine distribution plan, which includes residents 65 and older and medically vulnerable residents under 65. Phase 2B includes residents aged between 50 and 64 and those living in congregate living settings. The college has been designated as one of those living settings. 

“The state of New Hampshire has told us that we would be a point of distribution, but we would be a private point of distribution which means that we would only give the vaccine to our staff, faculty, and students.” explains Favazza. 

All students will receive the vaccine when it becomes available to the college, including those living off-campus and commuter students said Favazza. 

But while it is unclear when the vaccine will arrive on campus to vaccinate the Saint Anselm Community, the college wants to make clear that anyone who can get the vaccine, should get it. For example, nursing students, the monks living in the monastery, and Director of Health Services Maura Marshall have all been vaccinated. 

“I encourage everyone to get the vaccine whenever they can get it,” said Favazza. “The more that we have folks on campus with [the vaccine], it’s just gonna make sense that our numbers are going to go down,” 

Senator Jeff Flake Visits Saint Anselm, Calls for Compromise and Bipartisanship

Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) at the New Hampshire Institue of Politics on Monday, where he talked about a new American politics. (Photo from The Boston Globe)

This past Monday, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) visited the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College to give a talk entitled “After the Deluge: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle.” Flake’s visit to Saint Anselm College, a favorite stop for any presidential hopeful, came in the midst of an ugly battle over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. In his speech, Flake lamented the damage that tribalism has done to the United States under President Trump.

“Tribalism is ruining us,” Flake announced to the crowded auditorium, “It is tearing our country apart. It is no way for sane adults to act.”

Some students in attendance agreed with Flake’s message of bipartisanship. Tim Madsen ’19, Chairman of the Saint Anselm College Republicans, expressed his own opinion of Flake’s visit, saying, “He was calling for more civility and bipartisanship in government, something that is certainly a good thing.”

Emily Prud’homme ’19, an International Relations major, also attended the event and shared her thoughts on Flake’s rhetoric: “He gave a thoughtful speech about building bridges between party lines and uniting together as an American people. His message was that sometimes you must fail your tribe to achieve the greater good.”

Flake went on to say that “the only tribe to which we owe allegiance is the American tribe.”

Sean Connor ’20, a Communications major, said he was skeptical of some parts of Flake’s speech. “I think that Senator Flake blurred the line between when it is right to go against partisan lines and when it becomes deconstructive towards progress as a whole. I really respect Senator Flake and his work, but I think that if he wants us to return to his vision of civility, he needs to stop seeing his party as a tribe he is looking forward to disappointing, and more as a people he hopes to work with to a better tomorrow.”

Indeed, Senator Flake remarked that he had failed his tribe, the Republican Party, but said that he hopes to continue to do so and preached a message rooted in the importance of compromise.

He briefly discussed his friendship and working relationship with Senator Chris Coons (D-DE). Coons and Flake gained notoriety when they struck a deal shortly before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote to advance Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate. Flake demanded that the FBI reopen the background check investigation into Kavanaugh in light of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual assault.

Saint Anselm students had mixed reactions to Flake’s vote to conditionally pass Kavanaugh on to the full Senate. Prud’homme disagreed with Flake, saying, “I do not agree with his decision to vote with the Republicans. I recognize the complexity of the situation – that this claim of sexual assault occurred when Ford and Kavanaugh were very young.” She continued, “However, sexual assault cannot be undermined no matter how many years pass . . . Denying him would send a message that our country and government is not tolerant of this type of conduct,.”

Hayley Morgan ’20, said, “I didn’t really enjoy the fact he voted for Kavanaugh, but I respected how he used his position in this matter to call for an FBI investigation.” Morgan also attended the protest, saying she did so “because I believe that even if Judge Kavanaugh is innocent of the allegations against him, he has proven that he does not have the temperament to have a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.”

Haley Bragdon-Clements ’21, the Vice President of the Saint Anselm College Democrats, said, “I applaud how Senator Flake handled this matter, and I wish that other Republicans had taken the same initiative. I hope to see people on both sides of the aisle coming together and treating this as a nonpartisan issue as how this is handled will set a tone for how this issue is addressed in the future.

Protestors greeted Senator Flake upon his arrival at the NHIOP. (Photo from NHYD Twitter)

Across the street from the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, people voiced their contempt for the Kavanaugh nomination. Nearly 130 protesters, including students, gathered together in protest of Senator Flake and to urge him not to vote in favor of Kavanaugh come time for the full Senate vote.

Dennis Aveta ’20 was one of the student protestors. (Photo courtesy of Aveta)

Molly Benson ’20, a Nursing major, attended the protest. “As a student, I hope this sent a message that if sexual assault is not welcome on this campus, it absolutely should not be welcome or rewarding in the highest court in our country,” she said. “If this Senate confirms Kavanaugh, they are setting a precedent that if survivors of sexual assault come forward, abusers will not be held accountable.”

At the end of his speech, Flake did not take questions from the audience, which is unusual compared to other NHIOP events.

Sean Connor, ’20, remarked that he was not surprised by this change. “I think given the events of the last week, the best way to control that environment was to avoid a questions and answers session. It’s easy for events like this to turn into chaos.”

After his remarks, Flake was immediately swarmed by reporters from various outlets. The senator made it known that he is waiting for the results of the FBI investigation before deciding whether or not to vote in favor of Kavanaugh.

Saint Anselm Students Could Lose Right to Vote from School

Ashley Motta ’17 (left), Sarah King ’18 (center), and Garrett Meyer ’18 (right) after voting in Goffstown in the 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary.

The New Hampshire House of Representatives recently voted to pass HB 1264, a bill that would change the eligibility standards for voting in New Hampshire. The bill is expected to pass the Senate, and at that point, it will be up to the governor to determine whether or not the legislation becomes law. Sununu’s record on voting rights for college students is mixed, and there is concern among Democrats and college students that he will sign the legislation. Sununu has remained opposed to HB 372, a similar bill that would have restricted college students’ access to voting.

The bill that most recently passed by the House of Representatives makes a four-word change to the voting requirements in New Hampshire. The four words are “for the indefinite future.” Without these words, Democratic legislators say that college students could have their right to vote where they go to school threatened. College students who choose to still vote in New Hampshire would then have about two months to become New Hampshire residents or face criminal charges.

Voting where one goes to school is a constitutional right. In Symm v. United States (1979), the United States Supreme Court affirmed a student’s right to register and vote in the town they go to school. However, state-by-state efforts to disenfranchise students have persisted.

Democratic legislators, including state senator Donna Soucy, an alum of Saint Anselm College, argue that the legislation is a direct affront to college students. However, their opposition is deeper than that. Senators Soucy and Jeff Woodburn argue that the legislation would make New Hampshire less appealing to younger residents, hurting the state’s economy.

New Hampshire College Democrats President Olivia Teixeira ’20 spoke passionately against HB 1264. In opposing the legislation, she tied the issue of voting rights with core tenets of Saint Anselm’s Benedictine values. “Especially here at Saint Anselm,” she said, “we are dedicated to serving our surrounding community and leaving it better than when we came, and having a part in electing local legislators for the area is no different.”

Saint Anselm students are eligible to vote in Goffstown municipal elections in addition to the state and federal races that get more attention. In the past municipal race in Goffstown, one Saint Anselm alum, Joe Alexander ’18, won an election to the Goffstown Budget Committee.

Teixeira, who also serves as the president of the Saint Anselm College chapter of the College Democrats, said she was impressed with how much students on campus have been involved with the issue. “Over the past few months, I have seen the true power of student voices speaking out against these bills in the State House and fighting for their right to vote in a place that in every other sense has been accepted as our home,” Teixeira said.

Saint Anselm students have been active voters in the area for years. In the 2016 election, various campus clubs organized rides to the polls for students – a service that both Democrats and Republicans took advantage of. However, Tim Madsen ’19, the president of the Saint Anselm College Republicans, declined to comment on the legislation.

Vice President of the Saint Anselm College Democrats Haley Bragdon-Clements ’21 stressed that the issue of voting rights is not, in her mind, a partisan issue. “When the right for students to vote comes under attack it is our job to come together in opposition of such bills. This should not be a partisan issue as all of us are at risk of losing our voice,” she explained. Bragdon-Clements went on, “I would love for the College Democrats to work with the College Republicans. This is a time where we can come together and fight for something that is absolutely essential to our democracy, our right to vote.”

Whether or not the campus Republicans join the campus Democrats in opposing HB 1264 and similar measures, it will ultimately be Governor Sununu’s decision if the bill passes the Senate as expected. Sununu has maintained a general opposition to disenfranchising students but has avoided commenting specifically on whether or not he will veto HB 1264 if it gets to his desk. Without a definitive statement from the governor, the fate of students’ access to voting in New Hampshire remains uncertain.

Cover image taken from Granite State Progress; in-text photo courtesy of Sarah King ’18.