Every year, a new class arrives on the hilltop, and it is up to them to elect their leadership to guide them through an inaugural year of learning and change. This year is no different as the Class of 2022, Saint Anselm College’s largest class in history, met on Wednesday night to hear from candidates for the Student Government Association.
The first people to speak were the candidates for Senate. There are four candidates running for four senate seats. They are Michael Baumgartner, Jackson Peck, Aidan Pierce, and Kate Shubert.
Peck promised to work on campus-wide issues, like allowing students to get back unused meal plan funds at the end of the year. He also addressed recent budget cuts with an air of skepticism. “I want to know where my money’s going,” he told the class, noting that services seemed to be decreasing while tuition and fees increased.
Aidan Pierce promised he was “the best person to find out” what matters to the Class of 2022. He emphasized growing up in a working-class family. As a young teenager, Aidan worked jobs to help support his family. He noted that his financial aid package made him believe that Saint Anselm College wanted him here, and now he wants to give back to the school.
Like the candidates before him, Michael Baumgartner talked about a “vision for the future.” He promised class members that he would fight for them. “Nothing will be as important to me as listening to your concerns and ideas,” he explained.
The most rousing of the speeches came from Kate Shubert, a Politics major, who told the class she originally planned to run for class president. She raised eyebrows and drew applause when she argued that the issue she heard about most from classmates was that Saint Anselm College “pretends sex doesn’t exist.” She noted that the college’s Catholic tradition prevents the school from providing students with contraceptives that can prevent the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases. She called providing condoms to students a “matter of safety.”
Shubert’s bold policy proposal immediately shifted the attitude of the room. In the question and answer periods for the senate, vice presidential, and presidential candidates, the issue of safe sex dominated. Members of the Class of 2022 expected candidates to take a stand on whether or not they believed that contraceptives should be readily available from the school and how they planned to implement such a change.
Vice presidential candidate Brendan Joyce, the tenth member of the Joyce family to attend Saint Anselm College, raised concerns about the college’s intervisitation policy and said he wanted to work on a change to the policy while vice president. He also spent his speech talking about the values instilled in him as a child, saying his father always told him it was “more important to be a good man than a great man.” He said he believed the same of Saint Anselm College and would work to get the school there. Joyce also expressed a desire to bring a fountain to campus.
His speech was followed by Tyler Cullen, a Londonderry, New Hampshire resident who emphasized his experience as a representative of his high school peers on the Londonderry School Board. As a student representative, Cullen said he had to deal with issues that are comparable to the ones facing Saint Anselm College, such as dealing with campus security in the wake of the Parkland shooting. During the question and answer period, Cullen voiced support for Shubert’s proposal regarding contraceptives while noting a deep respect for the monastery. He also expressed a desire to work on recycling and avoiding littering on campus.
The most competitive race for the Class of 2022 is that of president, as is typical in freshman classes. There are four candidates: Sean Bentley, David Chairez, Gina Gagliardi, and Trever Nelson.
Nelson is a resident of Kennebunkport, Maine. He talked about his time working in student council as a high school student and his desire to be involved in the College Democrats while on campus. In the question and answer period, Nelson showed a deep concern for keeping the campus clean and preserving its beauty.
David Chairez hails from Los Angeles, California. He’s a Post Malone fan and self-described “nerd” who said that he immediately felt a sense of family when he arrived on the Hilltop. He shared a vision of inclusion, emphasizing his desire to “unite as one school.” When asked about the issue he cared most about, Chairez noted his desire to make Saint Anselm College the most inclusive and diverse school it can be, hoping to bring people of all backgrounds together.
Another contender is Gina Gagliardi, who introduced herself to the class by declaring, “I like warm hugs.” Unlike many of her opponents, Gagliardi said that she didn’t aspire to run for student government when she came to campus. Instead, one of her friends encouraged to her seek the position. While emphasizing a desire to hold fundraisers so the class is on a strong financial footing, Gagliardi was honest about her biggest goal as class president. “I just want to make you all happy,” she said. Her jovial nature is embodied in her campaign slogan, “The girl with the smile will go the extra mile.”
The final contender for president is Sean Bentley, a Politics major, who spent most of his time talking about school-wide issues, like reducing lines in Davison Hall and bringing a printer to every residence. He also joined others in calling for a change in the intervisitation policy. He hopes to expand the hours before scrapping the restrictions altogether. In high school, Bentley organized a backpack and school supplies drive for needy families.
On the controversial issues of contraceptives and intervisitation, Nelson and Gagliardi emphasized the need to bring both sides together and have an honest dialogue. Bentley and Chairez seemed to be more outraged by policies like intervisitation, promising to work to end the policy.
The candidate with the easiest night was Josh Pratt, a right-handed history and education double major from Concord, New Hampshire. Pratt is the only freshman running for secretary. He promised to be as transparent as possible in order to keep students informed of the issues the class council is discussing. In addition to taking thorough minutes, Pratt is excited to make Saint Anselm College into a home, not simply a school.
Voting is Wednesday, September 19 and Thursday, September 20.
UPDATE: The Hilltopper edited the paragraph about Sean Bentley’s position on intervisitation. He believes that the current policy is too restrictive and supports expanding hours for intervisitation. He hopes to one day end the restrictions altogether. The wording has been changed to better reflect his position.