Constance Schneider and Joel Thomas to become Liberty SGA President and Vice President
Liberty Students, alumni and incoming freshmen elected two new leaders last Tuesday to take the reins of the Student Government Association (SGA) and advocate for the student body in the upcoming year.
Constance Schneider and Joel Thomas will assume the positions of student body president and vice president, respectively. The election marked the end of an entirely digital campaign season due to the university’s closure, spurring unprecedented online engagement.
The Instagram account received over 330,000 interactions during the last week of the campaign, according to the campaign’s communications director, Noah Haneman.
The candidates received the results shortly after 5 p.m. on election day on a group phone call. According to an SGA Twitter post, Schneider and Thomas took home 2,070 votes, Nyberg and Jones claimed 960 and Cullum and Looker received the remaining 166.
Schneider served as a delegate before transitioning to a recruiting position on the executive branch of SGA. She currently serves as the director of community engagement for the organization.
Under the last title, she advocated for a stronger connection between Liberty students and the surrounding community, a cause the team will champion next year.
Haneman said Schneider is the first female to be elected student body president at Liberty, though a female has served in the position in the past after being appointed.
Thomas is on the SGA Spiritual Life committee and is a resident shepherd on East Campus. He recognizes the benefit of utilizing positions of leadership, whatever size, to enact change and growth and he looked at the election as another opportunity to do that.
“I have always believed that we should strive to enact positive change in the place that God has put us in,” Thomas said.
The idea of a potential bid for student body president became a reality for Schneider last fall, when a friend suggested she run for the position with Thomas.
“The (thought of running) had always been in the back of my mind, but I also had other plans for my senior year, so I wasn’t really sure what my position was on running for student body president,” Schneider said.
Thomas reached out to her after he received the same suggestion, and she immediately knew it was right.
“I would not want to run for the position with anybody but Joel,” Schneider said. “He has such a calming presence and is so wise, I respect his decisions and we always challenge each other in our conversations … I felt right about running with him because I know what a great leader he is.”
All teams dealt with event cancelations and pandemic-related disappointments throughout the election process.
Polls opened at 12 a.m. on election day April 15. Schneider and Thomas’core campaign team rang in the voting day with a Zoom call at midnight, after which Schneider stayed up until 4 a.m. texting supporters and potential voters.
The day was a nervous blur for the candidates.
“Anytime you put a lot of work into something and you do not know what the outcome is, it is tough,” Thomas said. “We were just trusting God with the outcome, win or lose.”
Schneider, who has been involved in campaigns over the past three years, is used to the hustle and bustle of a typical election day on campus. This one looked very different – she spent it at home with her family in Atlanta, Georgia.
“It was so encouraging – my whole family wore our t-shirts, bought balloons and secretly made me a purple cake to celebrate if we won,” Schneider said.
Moving forward, the president and vice president elect are focusing on unifying the student body.
“We care about the 1,126 students who voted for the other candidates and will advocate for them just as much as we will for those who voted for us,” Thomas said. “Knowing the amount of work, time, and resources that goes into running a campaign, it is great to see that candidates and supporters care about their school enough to take part in the elections.”
Both Schneider and Thomas are extremely optimistic about the future and excited to lead students through the next two semesters.
“More than anything, I want to encourage students to start praying for next year. Pray for our school, our leadership and for God to move on our campus,” Schneider said. “This is going to be a monumental year for all of us. This will be a year where we return after a semester cut short, after a lot of disappointment and tragedy and we can all come together as a student body and make it something really amazing.”“The best is yet to come,” Thomas said.
Kayleigh Hamer is a News reporter. Follow her on Twitter @kayleighhamerrr