As sad as saying goodbye to the Hilltop in almost a week is, I think many would agree that we are ready to put this past year behind us. The recent move to phase blue was the closest glimpse I have ever witnessed of a normal life at Saint Anselm.
Community is put on a pedestal here, and rightfully so. Even with Zooms for everything from orientation to classes, or not getting to see the smiling faces hidden below masks, the community that I found tried their hardest to welcome the class of 2024. Still, it feels like there is something more, something we have heard about and maybe even experienced in fleeting moments, but something we cannot grasp.
One of the first big things that I remember from the fall semester was the class of 2024 student government elections. I ran for class president with a desire to dive right into the community and connect with the school. Thank God that I lost, because I wouldn’t have found my place at the Crier that I hold so dear. Even in our first election, our class showed incredible imagination and determination. In many ways members of our class have kept that momentum all year long. Was this an early indication of the resiliency of our class, or a sign that we will fight our way back to normal? I’d like to think so.
We missed out on a lot, first losing the last half of our senior year and then the strangest first year of college, but it’s no use lamenting over that now. Everyone lost something this year, but we found ourselves and Saint Anselm and that has to count for something. The most we can do is take time to reflect on the lessons of this past year and do what we can to make the next three count. I hope that our class will welcome in the next freshmen, bearing in mind that we were once in their position. I have no idea what next year looks like, but hopefully we will become a part of the traditions and community that we missed out on this year.
Why did you choose to come to Saint A’s? Were you offered a scholarship? Was it close to home? Did you already know people who came here? I chose to come here, because as soon as I set foot on campus, I felt like I was home. As weird and difficult as my Freshman year was, (I spent the entirety of the 2018-2019 year on a knee scooter because I had broken my foot at the beginning of the year), it was the people who really got me through. The sense of community at Saint A’s has historically been overwhelming. You weren’t able to walk five feet on this campus, without seeing a friendly face, or saying hello to someone you know.
As an upperclassman, I was really looking forward to sharing our traditions with the underclassmen; like sledding on the quad with the trays from Davison Hall, holding the doors open, and generally teaching them about what life at Saint A’s is like to continue that tradition of hospitality. We were all robbed of normalcy this year: the silly traditions and weekend adventures were taken away from us because of COVID, but that is no excuse to have lost that hospitality.
Class divides have never seemed stronger, because we as a community have never felt so disjointed. Yes, we are all angry about losing the normalcy of this year, but that anger is misplaced when it’s taken out on each other. There is a disconnect between how we as upperclassmen know and experience the Hilltop, and how the underclassmen do, because we haven’t been given the opportunity to show them the ropes, and they haven’t had the chance to learn.
This might not have been the year we wanted, but it’s the year we got, and there is no changing that. As isolating and dividing as this past year has been, every single member of this community has gone through it together.
As we wrap up the semester in Phase Blue, and start looking towards the next year, take a second to think about why you chose to come to college here, of all places. We were dealt a rough hand this year, but that doesn’t have to stop us from being kind. Every single student and faculty member went through the wringer this year, just as you did. As we begin to heal from the year, I encourage everyone to be compassionate to each other. Saint A’s is known for its hospitality, and it would be a shame to let that go.