SGA Inaugurates New Student Body PResident and VP

Shortly after 5 p.m. April 7, after a long month of campus-wide campaigning, Evan Kluth and Jess West gathered with their opponents to wait for final student body election results. After elections commissioner Annaliese Vanio announced the ranking order, Kluth was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

“It was kind of a hoping, hoping, hoping thing for so long and then it was just suddenly confirmed,” Kluth said. 

Election day is a nerve-wracking experience, but it was all finally over. 

“The 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. hour was really slow,” Kluth said. “You could see the other campaigns kind of tearing down, I took a lap around campus, and it was kind of a decompressing time – but then I thought ‘what if we lose by 20 votes?’

“We knew that despite what social media looked like, election day could be anything,” West added. 

It turns out he had nothing to worry about — Evan and Jess won by over 1,000 votes. They led at 1,758 votes, followed by Shea and Cade at 694 votes and Payne and Butler at 436 votes. 

Kluth appreciated the time spent with the other candidates over the span of the election and pointed out things that he admired about each contender. 

“We’re excited. We want to work with all of them next year, obviously,” West said.

Although election season is over, Kluth and West’s work is just beginning. 

“With everything that happened earlier in the year – with everything in the news and the president changes and COVID, we were just talking about it and realized that despite everything, Liberty is still Liberty,” West said. “We just want to kind of reignite that spirit in the student body. I think we did that a little bit in the campaign. That’s like the heartbeat of a lot of what we did, but we want to definitely carry that and press into that more next year.” 

Kluth and West both emphasized that they are excited to be able to hit the ground running next semester and believe that they are capable of starting strong because of their previous SGA experience. 

The pair was officially inaugurated Tues. April 13 in a ceremony where former Student Body President and VP Constance Schneider and Joel Thomas passed the torch to their successors. 

“Constance and Joel had such an uphill battle this year with the leftover tension from the campaign season last year and the state of the country and changes in the university,” West said. “Despite all that they led with such integrity and wisdom and respect no matter who or what they were dealing with. That dignity speaks so strongly and so powerfully and is something we definitely want to carry into next year” 

Kluth emphasized the power of the relationships between SGA and different campus departments built by their predecessors and said that he is excited to grow and develop those connections even deeper over the next year. 

Both West and Kluth said that seeing their team and supporters rally around them over the past couple months has been extremely poignant. 

“It was so intentional and so sweet – I’m getting chills,” West said. “We were constantly saying we don’t deserve these people.”

Kaylegh Hamer is a Copy Editor. View her LinkedIn profile here.

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