Special Election 2022: Tyler Cullen, Candidate for Senator

Tyler Cullen is an idealistic and motivated candidate to represent the Class of 2022 in the Student Senate. Calling for accountability and transparency within SGA, as well as an increase in volunteerism and civic engagement, Tyler is confident that the upcoming term can “be the best year yet for our class”. Tyler hopes that if elected, he can help the Sophomore Class Council to “be vocal and visible, and we’re going to have a full roster of officers that really care about the people they represent.”

Photo courtesy of Tyler Cullen

Although Tyler has many ideas when it comes to being a leader for his class, he explained that none of that leadership would be possible without the input of his peers. Students approaching and informing him of their concerns and issues is how he hopes to be a representative and effective Senator. One way he suggested that the class council could more effectively communicate would be to create a new position within their administration; a position Tyler referred to as the “Constituent Outreach Chair”. This position, as Tyler envisions it, would “allow us to streamline electronic communication and provide for a dialogue on all issues, big and small.”

When asked whether or not Tyler had heard of any issues from his peers thus far, he responded by saying: “I’ve spoken to many who are aggravated about wait times in Davison. Obviously, student government can’t make hiring and operational decisions, but I hate the idea of doing nothing because it is a valid concern.” Tyler went on to say, “I’m very interested in looking at some specific data about activity levels throughout the day and brainstorming with Dining Services management to see if there’s a solution to be found.”

Tyler also took the opportunity to talk about events he would like to see the sophomores host. He suggested that rather than traditional entertainment style or fundraising events held on campus, the Class of 2022 should utilize its large size to participate in service-oriented events. He said, “that’s a great deal of manpower that can be put to good use for worthy causes.” One issue faced by Class Councils every year is how exactly to motivate those large numbers of students to engage with SGA and their coordinated events. Tyler optimistically said, “I hope to see record levels of student participation and I expect that we will all be aggressively trying to get more people involved.”

Tyler feels he is the person who can accomplish this ambitious goal, due to his prior involvement in high school organizations as well as his position as a NHIOP Ambassador. Serving as the Student Representative to the School Board his Senior year in high school, Tyler’s job was to represent the needs and interests of his peers while organizing and planning events as a part of his Student Council. This experience, he feels, will serve him well in the Senate and as a member of the Class Council; where he will be responsible for planning and executing events similar to those he has done in the past. 

Tyler is one of two candidates running to represent the Sophomore class in the Student Senate. Voting will be held Monday and Tuesday in Davison and CShop.

Special Election 2022: Kevin Chrisom, Candidate For Vice President

In the upcoming special election for the Class of 2022, Kevin Chrisom is the sole candidate for Vice President. Kevin, an Executive Board Member for the Saint Anselm College Republicans, NHIOP Ambassador, and political science major says he’s excited to fill the vacant role of Vice President. 

Kevin’s main goals are to increase Sophomore participation and engagement on campus, and educate students about the organization and importance of SGA. He highlighted the fact that the Sophomore class is currently the largest class on campus, something he believes to be a unique advantage the Class Council should take advantage of.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Chrisom

When commenting on the special election to fill a vacant Senate seat, Kevin said that he had made a good relationship with both candidates and was looking forward to working alongside the winner of that election regardless of the results. He suggested that the best way to accomplish their goals as a council would be to unify around a singular goal and work diligently to complete it. He also took the opportunity to comment on President Gina Gagliardi’s leadership, noting “Gina does an effective job as our class president”, and he expects it to be a good year. 

When asked about his qualifications for the position, Kevin responded by saying that he had a great deal of experience in student government from high school, as well as being a leader within the current clubs and organizations he’s apart of. Kevin is confident in his ability to “jump in and lead”, and when questioned about his prior time commitments he said he was not worried at all, and that in fact, he had already begun planning for the transition. 

As a second-year college student, Kevin said that he has had time to identify issues on campus and that in fact, some students had mentioned some of their concerns to him during his campaigning. Some of those concerns included efficiency within Davison hall at mealtimes, extending intervisitation hours, and increasing campus safety.

One event Kevin hopes to spearhead as the Vice President of the Class of 2022, is a town-hall, forum style event with College President Joseph Favazza. An idea which has floated around multiple groups on campus, including the Student Senate, Kevin said that he believes this would be “a home-run”. 

Kevin hopes to be an engaging representative of his class and said that “I take voters and constituents comments to heart […] they should be comfortable knowing they have a VP who will listen to them and fight for them”. When asked what had motivated him to run for the position, Kevin said that he had been considering a Senate run at the end of his Freshman year, but had decided to wait. He said he had decided to stay behind the scenes, build relationships, and learn about SGA before running for election. When the opportunity arose at the beginning of the year, however, Kevin decided “I think it’s time for me to use my experiences and the relationships made here to put myself where I need to be”

Kevin Chrisom is running for Vice President of the Class of 2022. 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: Eric O’Connor ’23, Senate

Photo courtesy of Eric O’Connor

Eric O’Connor, a resident of Providence, Rhode Island is one of two candidates to represent the Class of 2023 in the Student Senate. When asked what his favorite aspect of Saint Anselm College was, Eric referenced the small community atmosphere the school prides itself on. He also discussed the general kindness of the student body, and what he observed to be a constant willingness and passion to help others.

When asked about his goals for the year, Eric answered by saying that though he had been on campus for only a few weeks, and still had a great deal to learn about the issues students at Saint Anselm face, he was optimistic about the prospects of the upcoming Senate term. His goal is to focus mainly on supporting his class while taking a more supportive role on larger campus issues. He stated, “You don’t have to be the top dog to get things done,” and explained that he hopes to solicit the help of his upperclassmen peers in SGA for advice and guidance throughout the upcoming term. 

Eric emphasized the importance of transparency, and stated that he would work to make sure he was available to his peers and always maintained a clear and open mind when considering votes within the Senate. Eric’s open-minded philosophy could be seen through the emphasis he placed on being a Senator who represented his constituency well and was always looking to “hear what other people have to say,” in order to make informed and conscientious decisions. 

One issue facing the Class of 2023, as it has faced every class at Saint Anselm College, is how to engage with their peers and encourage student participation. Eric addressed this issue by saying that students were currently not engaged enough to care, and that more student involvement would then foster a stronger sense of community and the ability to change things on the hilltop. He questioned why it was that students were not as involved as they should be with student  affairs on campus, and asked: “Do people have something to say and are they afraid to say it?”

When asked how he thought the issue of student engagement and participation could be solved, he pointed to public outreach. Eric acknowledged the low student turnout at campaign speeches and raised the concern that perhaps SGA was partially to blame. He argued that student engagement was not necessarily an issue of apathy, but rather poor marketing and communication. He echoed sentiments made by other candidates for the establishment of a social media outreach coordinator. Eric said, “This is our college experience […] we have to get our say out there.” He called for SGA to take a bigger role in the lives of students on campus, and he recommended that this start with increasing transparency and communication. 

A concern of Eric’s was his relatively simple path towards winning the election, which he saw not as a benefit, but a major issue. Due to the fact the Eric and fellow candidate Ben Mickens were the only two Freshmen to run for four open Senate seats, it is all but certain that they will win their election. When speaking about his class voting on Monday and Tuesday, he said: “I’m a senator whether they like it or not, and that’s not a good thing”. He said that he and the other class officers would look to fill their open Senate seats as soon as possible. 

Eric also spoke of his ambitions to become a NHIOP ambassador, and he said that he viewed his open schedule as a positive which allowed him to devote a great deal of his time and energy to Student Government. He said that he was passionate about helping his class succeed and strengthening SGA, and he added that “As long as you’re passionate about something, you should take it as far as you can.”

Eric O’Connor is one of two candidates running to be a Class of 2023 Senator. Voting will be held Monday and Tuesday in Davison Hall and C-Shop.

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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Gagliardi ’22 Elected President

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Gagliardi ’22 at the debate held in Dominic Hall on the eve of the election. (Photo by Kenny Otis ’22)

Gina Gagliardi ’22 has been elected President of the Class of 2022 over Sean Bentley ’22, David Chairez ’22, and Trevor Nelson ’22. Gagliardi galvanized her supporters throughout the race by approaching each issue with a calm head and even reaction. She stressed building a consensus in deciding how to address issues, rather than being drowned out by “a few loud voices.”

Her election is notable given that she was not an impassioned advocate for the school providing contraceptives or for expanding intervisitation hours. It is possible that supporters of those issues were split among the other three candidates, or that Gagliardi’s emphasis on going through the proper channels to enact change won the day.

In the night before voting began, the rumors about Cake-gate began to change the dynamic of the race. Gagliardi confronted her opponent, Bentley, about the issue directly and while he denied the allegations, it is likely that he lost some votes as Gagliardi gained favor. Of course, she also worked hard to win, knocking on doors in Dominic Hall and Joan of Arc Hall in an effort to speak with as many voters as possible.

The freshman class also elected Brendan Joyce ’22 as vice president and Joshua Pratt ’22 as secretary. The four senators will be Matthew Baumgartner ’22, Jackson Peck ’22, Aidan Pierce ’22, and Kate Shubert ’22.

Gagliardi will become the third female President of a class currently at Saint Anselm College, joining Meg Russo ’19 and Julie Sullivan ’21. She was not immediately available for comment upon request.

Meet the Candidates: Aidan Pierce ’22, Senate

Aidan Pierce ’22 is running for SGA Senate. (Photo courtesy of Pierce)

Aidan Pierce comes to Saint Anselm after a lot of hard work. He’s been raised by a single father, whom he cares for deeply, and from an early age accepted that getting a job and helping support the family was just something you had to do. He says that his childhood, “taught me to respect where your dollar goes.”

To an extent, this respect for a dollar has influenced his run for the Student Government Association. Like Jackson Peck ’22, a fellow candidate for SGA Senate, Pierce believes that the College should be more transparent with its budget. He notes, however, that while he supports a more transparency, he does not believe that the budget is “malleable” for students. He argued that just because a student is paying the college doesn’t mean they have a consistent say in how those dollars are spent.

He firmly believes that Saint Anselm students should recognize that they “subscribed to a community” by enrolling at the College. With that comes a need to respect the tradition of the school.

Because of his respect for the history and values of the school, Pierce broke with his fellow Senate candidates on the controversial issue of contraceptives for students. He doesn’t believe that the school should be forced to distribute something that is clearly at odds with its values.

When asked where the line should be drawn between an open and diverse community and one that honors the teachings of the Catholic Church, Pierce created his own test. He would support groups, like T.E.D.A., that are “not offensive or antagonistic to the Catholic mission.” Pierce says he is a part of T.E.D.A., and he would have voted for the club’s approval had he been in the Senate last year.

Instead, Pierce is deeply concerned with the environment and intends to spend his time as a senator writing policies that makes campus greener and lessens its environmental impact. He believes he can make a lot of headway on the issue, bringing senators from all classes together to affect change.

“I feel like that’s going to be a universally agreed upon thing,” he said of his ideas for making the Hilltop more environmentally friendly. He hopes to bring composting to Davison Hall and improve access to recycling and trash disposal around campus.

In addition to pursuing a run for the Student Government Association, Pierce is a member of Ultimate Frisbee and College Republicans. He also has an off-campus job.

Voting is on Wednesday, September 19th and Thursday, September 20th.

Race for Class of 2022’s President Gets Ugly

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The candidates for the Class of 2022 president share a hug after a raucous debate. From left to right, Trevor Nelson, Gina Gagliardi, Sean Bentley, and David Chairez. (Photo by Kenny Otis ’22)

The candidates for President of the Class of 2022 gathered, along with about 35 of their classmates, in the basement common room in Dominic Hall this evening for an impromptu debate. The race for president has become the most heated campaign for the Student Government Association the Hilltop has seen in several years, with sharp barbs being traded and bitter campaigning being the dominant theme.

The debate was organized by Sean Bentley ’22, who is running for class president. Bentley was given the first opening statement and the final closing statement, as well as setting the date and time of the debate. The other three candidates were present as well, David Chairez ’22, Gina Gagliardi ’22, and Trevor Nelson ’22, although it is unclear if they all knew about the debate in advance. David arrived part-way through opening statements.

The first topics debated by the candidates were ones that have been discussed in The Hilltopper’s candidate profiles as well as the SGA-sponsored speeches: safe sex and intervisitation. Chairez and Nelson agreed that the College should play an active role in promoting safe sex on campus through providing contraceptives. Bentley applauded the practice of safe sex while lamenting the possible spending of student tuition dollars on purchasing contraceptives. He applied the logic the Supreme Court used in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014) decision – you cannot force someone to purchase a product in direct violation of their deeply held religious beliefs. Gagliardi countered that this kind of policy discussion was the job of the SGA Senate, not the class president.

On the topic of intervisitation, Bentley, Chairez, and Nelson all agreed that the policy should end, while Gagliardi said that she wanted to take “everyone’s voices” into account when making decisions, adding that she had spoken to some members of the Class of 2022 who said that they liked intervisitation.

Bentley theorized that Saint Anselm College was losing potential students to schools like SNHU and UNH because of the intervisitation policy but did not provide any evidence to support the claim. Nelson also spoke about the need for such a change to come through the SGA Senate rather than the class president.

Asked about fundraisers, the candidates each presented a plethora of ideas to blend class unity with fundraising. A popular idea is a fair or carnival, which would bring in the Greater Manchester community, although there was controversy over whose idea it was.

Bentley presented it as his idea but Chairez countered and said that he first proposed it at SGA-sponsored speeches. Gagliardi proposed a scavenger hunt and a game night while Nelson suggested a class-wide game of manhunt or other night-time games. A follow-up question from The Hilltopper about how these events would actually raise money for Junior Formal and the Senior Package was ignored by the moderator.

The most contentious moment of the night, undoubtedly, centered around “Cake-gate” – the scandal that has consumed the race. The Hilltopper has been pursuing this story for nearly a week and has spoken to several sources about it. Bentley was going around Dominic Hall the evening before the SGA-sponsored speeches, giving out cake to potential voters. When he encountered Gagliardi giving cookies out to voters, a piece of cake that was in his hand ended up on another student, Matt, who is a friend of Gagliardi. In the debate, Gagliardi said that the cake was clearly thrown at her and Matt “took the bullet” for her, while Bentley said that it was gravity and his “need to go to the gym more.”

A separate source from the Class of 2022, speaking to The Hilltopper on a condition of anonymity over fear of retribution, said that Bentley had dropped the entire sheet cake on a classmate’s bed, picked it up after the icing fell onto the bedsheets, and proceeded to hand out the cake without apologizing to the student for ruining the bed or telling anyone it had fallen on the bed.

A post on Sean’s campaign Instagram (@seanforprez2022) with a picture of half a cake and a caption attacking his opponents for passing out candy and cookies as if they were “in 2nd grade” was taken down after Chairez mentioned the comment at the debate.

In a comment to The Hilltopper before the debate, Bentley said, “I categorically deny throwing cake at Ms. Gagliardi. It is completely outrageous that I am being accused of this. While I did pass at cake to the residents of Dominic Hall last week, I would never throw anything at anyone, which obviously includes Gina. This story is 100% [false] and it is clear that it is nothing but a distraction.” He continued, “My opponents refuse to debate me because they know we have the momentum heading into the election so they having else [sic] better to do than spread false rumors about me. Disgraceful!”

Kevin Chrisom ’22 is serving as Bentley’s campaign manager. After the debate, he told The Hilltopper that he thought “Sean did a very nice job. Unfortunately, the audience seemed to be a bit of a distraction but it was all in good fun.” He said that he was with Bentley when the cake was being passed out and “[Sean] did not throw cake at anyone,” calling Gagliardi a liar, and insisted that his candidate “never physically took a piece of cake and threw it.”

Chairez said that the debate “was great” and the turnout shows that “our freshman class care[s] about what we have to say to improve our lives here at St. A’s.” On the matter of Cake-gate, David said that he doesn’t “believe Gina is a liar. I feel I can take her word over Sean’s because Sean has called me and Gina out, he has disrespected our campaigns…What I’ve heard from other people is that it did happen.”

Gagliardi said that the debate was “definitely a wild environment but each candidate had an opportunity to display their views.” When told about Chrisom’s comments, Gagliardi offered a brief response, “That’s really interesting because they never could give a clear explanation as to…how the cake ended up on Matt.”

Nelson could not be reached for comment immediately after the debate.

As Election Eve turns into Election Day, voters in the Class of 2022 will have to make up their minds. John Tobin ’22, a nursing major, attended the debate tonight. When asked by The Hilltopper for whom he planned to vote, his response was simply, “I honestly don’t know.”

While several students were seen sporting David Chairez for President stickers after the debate, it seems the race is anyone’s for the taking.

Michael Rosen ’22 also attended the debate. He told The Hilltopper that he thought the debate went okay. He continued, I think the moderator didn’t let the audience ask enough questions. I felt like it was very controlled.” He was disappointed that the audience was only allowed to ask two questions. Rosen said he went into the debate undecided and left even more undecided, saying that he “had to do some thinking now after finding out that Sean threw a piece of cake.”

Polls are open Wednesday, September 19th and Thursday, September 20.