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As Trump takes stage at Saint Anselm College, students voice their opinions outside

Students gather to protest outside a town hall meeting hosted by CNN for former president Donald Trump at Saint Anselm College, May 10, 2023.
Todd Bookman
Students gather to protest outside a town hall meeting hosted by CNN for former president Donald Trump at Saint Anselm College, May 10, 2023.

As Donald Trump prepared to take the stage Wednesday night at Saint Anselm College for a televised town hall with CNN, protesters both for and against the former president gathered on campus.

The decision to host Trump divided the private Catholic school, a campus known for hosting presidential candidates for decades. Students gathered outside the event — some, like Ellie Carlson-McNally, in opposition to his appearance.

“We want to be a college that is open and fair and welcoming to all political parties, but not when it is somebody that is representative of such awful and hateful violence, a sexual predator, somebody that has been accused and convicted now of so many things,” said Carlson-McNally, a senior on campus.

Trump’s appearance at Saint Anselm came just a day after a New York jury found he had sexually assaulted and then defamed E. Jean Carroll. But for Sheri Rossler, who happened to be visiting her sophomore daughter on campus Wednesday, Trump’s legal troubles aren’t worth dwelling on.

“His personal life is different than his professional life and his political life, so I’m not here to judge people on what they do in their own time,” Rossler said. “I think when he was the president, he served our country well, and that’s what I’m judging him on.”

McCormick Barry, a graduate student, said he agreed with the school’s invitation.

“I think it’s awesome, giving all political figures the ability to speak on a college campus," Barry said. "I agree with the protests, I agree with him coming."

But other students including Abigail Svor, said she didn’t think the event reflected well on the school.

"It doesn’t look good for our values," Svor said.

This was Trump’s second visit to New Hampshire in the past two weeks, as he seeks to again win his party’s nomination. Facing criticism for its decision to host Trump, St. Anselm’s president Joseph Favazza issued an open letter on the matter, saying it was consistent with the school’s mission of fostering civic dialogue.

Last year, Saint Anselm College canceled an event featuring Rudy Guiliani, Trump’s personal attorney, on the grounds that Giuliani’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election on Trump’s behalf undermined democracy.

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Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
Michelle Liu is the All Things Considered producer at NHPR. She joined the station in 2022 after graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism.
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