Trump town hall plans sparks outrage from students, faculty


John Provost

Kathryn Williams, Editor in Chief

Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to arrive on campus on May 10 for a live town hall with CNN. While college higher ups have spoken about the importance of open political discourse, many students and staff are outraged over the announcement. On one hand, as stated in an email from President Joseph
Favazza, Saint Anselm College has a long history of hosting every major presidential candidate since 1960. Regardless of your opinion of him, he is projected to be a major candidate for the GOP and, unless proven guilty, he should be treated equally to other candidates.

On the other hand, his past behaviors have shown a dangerous pattern that has threatened to undermine the very democracy he is running for. From that lens, playing host to Trump seems counterintuitive to the college’s goal of promoting democracy.

Earlier this school year, Executive Director of NHIOP Neil Levesque made the decision not to host an election panel because it included Rudy Guiliani, a Trump ally and election denier. Many have questioned why the college is willing to host Donald Trump himself, knowing the role he played in 2020 election denial. Levesque spoke on this with NHPR reporter Josh Rogers, explaining that he was not part of the decision as the event does not take place at NHIOP.

Professor Gialdieri of the Politics department shared his concerns about the optics of hosting Trump after refusing to host one of his allies. “This seems out of whack with things the administration said in the immediate wake of January 6, about putting ethics and morality ahead of ambition and of the sorts of democratic values we try to not just teach to our students but model for our students and model for the community,” said Galdieri.

Professor Gialdieri noted that being involved with a major news network could be a contributing factor for the college’s willingness to host the event. “CNN is a big deal… Being on TV is fun but principles are worth giving up things that are fun,” he said. “We have a long relationship with CNN and other media partners when holding town halls, debates and other forums on campus. This is one of a series of events they will host with major presidential candidates, along with other national media, throughout the 2024 election season,”

Favazza wrote in another email on Wednesday. As a student reporter, I confess that I am excited for the opportunity to cover such an event. I have been awaiting the day when I could finally start reporting on the presidential debates, to be in the
middle of all the action. However, I also know that myself and all of the students here need to be on high alert for potential threats.

Students have taken to social media to make their voices heard. An online petition entitled “Stop Saint Anselm College from Hosting Donald Trump,” started by Adysn Kilty ‘23, has been widely circulated. It has over 640 signatures. Kilty, along with the many signees, believe that Trump should not be allowed at the college because his views and past actions are seen as dangerous.

President Favazza acknowledged concerns over Trump’s record, including his impeachment, ongoing legal trouble, and role in the events of Jan. 6. “All of this is true. Equally true, however, is the fact that he is not only the former President but also the current frontrunner in the Republican presidential race,” he wrote.

The need for student protection cannot be understated. President Favazza has yet to announce security measures for the event. Professor Christopher Gialdieri called the lack of information troubling. “We have a history on this campus of Trump’s targeting students who ask him questions that he finds impertinent,” he explained.

Consider the events of one alumna, Lauren Batchelder ’18. She was a Crier staff member and NHIOP student ambassador who was harassed after asking a pointed question about women’s rights at a Trump event on campus. After Trump tweeted about her comment, wrongly accusing her of being planted by his opposition,
Batchelder received a tidal wave of abuse from Trump supporters. Intense cyberbullying, often of a sexual nature and promising threats, followed her for quite some time.

This is an example of an important lesson that all students need to learn quickly: tread carefully around Trump and his supporters. We must be on our guard and watch out for one another. This came at one of the worst times imaginable for college students.

We have one reading day to prepare for exams and now we also have to brace ourselves for the wave that will surely arrive when Trump touches down. President
Favazza acknowledged this in his email, assuring the community that the college “will work dili- gently to minimize the disruption to campus life.” However, without knowing any details of how students will be protected, many are stressed about potentially dangerous crowds.

The town hall will be broadcast from Koonz at 9pm, but it is not clear how early media outlets and supporters or protesters will arrive. The proximity of Davison Hall to the theater raises a significant concern for student safety. I would not be surprised if people were crowding outside of Dana and yelling at students just trying to get to the dining hall.


I remember getting yelled at by protesters outside of NHIOP last year outside
of an event with Governor Sununu (the same one in which protesters screamed expletives at the NH kid governor). During the stressful time of final exams, it is sad that students may feel unsafe on their campus.

I trust that our administration would not willingly put us in harm’s way. I hope that their security plan is announced soon to put some of this stress at ease. Despite the resounding echo of students and staff calling for the event to be canceled, I think it is highly unlikely that their demands will be met. However, I hope that the college carefully listens to this feedback and considers it as they work on plans for political events
next year.

There are still questions and too many perspectives for me to fit into one article. This is our final print issue of the Crier for this year but we plan to provide as extensive of coverage as possible of the event on our website.