By Rebekah Erway
The newly elected leaders of SGA for the 2018-19 school year – President Ryan Smith, junior allied health major; Vice President Clara Costello, junior strategic communication major; Chaplain Campbell Bortel, junior geology major – all hope to implement an SGA that emphasizes togetherness.
Both Smith and Costello’s president-vice-president campaign slogan and Bortel’s chaplain campaign slogan included the word “together.” Smith and Costello’s “Better Together” emphasizes a campus united in being real and sharing memories.
“We believe that everyone has something to learn and someone to love, and no matter what you’re involved in,” Costello said. “You have something to offer this campus, and we recognize that, and we need that.”
Costello said that the goal of SGA next year is to help facilitate events and other opportunities that reach more than just a select group. She said that she and Smith both recognize that each person on the campus is necessary in order to bring about a strong and lasting community.
“It’s for so much more than just SGA,” Costello said. “We’re not just looking to be better together within SGA, but to see this vision infiltrate all of campus.”
Bortel’s “Grow Together” slogan has a similar emphasis. Bortel said his goal is to help cultivate a campus-wide mindset in chapels that focuses on spiritual growth.
“It’s everyone coming together to pursue growth in what we learn and how God’s moving and not ignoring that,” Bortel said. “It’s a collective effort for sure.”
While the two missions, “Better Together” and “Grow Together,” are aligned, both Smith and Bortel said they didn’t realize that would happen. Neither knew the other’s campaign slogan prior to the campaign season.
“However,” Smith said, “our like-mindedness is going to allow for a more forceful and pointed chapel experience.”
Smith said that he wants to use chapel videos, announcements, Campbell’s sermons, the worship band, and all other aspects of chapel to create a unified experience. Smith said he recognizes that a majority of what the student body is able to see of SGA is only what takes place in chapel.
“The perception of SGA rises and falls on the chapel experience,” Smith said. “Therefore, in order to create an SGA that is not exclusive, we have to be serving. In order to create an SGA that is outreaching, we have to be intentional with the time. In order to create a fun SGA, that actually starts with a good chapel experience.”
Part of Smith and Costello’s vision for chapel includes vulnerability demonstrated through personal testimonies from regular students. Bortel said he wants to share part of his testimony through his chapel sermons, specifically how God has been shaping and growing him since coming to Cedarville. His list of sermon ideas, which is long enough now to be scrollable on his phone, came out of personal issues and questions, like “man, I wished we talked about this,” or, “these are questions we should totally go over in my D-group.”
While chapel is one of the main SGA events, Smith said he understands that SGA won’t have the opportunity to make an impact on campus by itself.
“A lot of RAs have much greater impact than Clara and I will have because they have a specific 20-some, 30-some people to oversee, whereas we may not be able to touch everybody,” Smith said. Without the student body getting behind the vision, Smith and Costello said, “Better Together” can’t really happen.
Bortel also said that he recognizes that not everything is in his control in regard to campus change. Because of his limited control, Bortel said, getting to reach campus through chapel is one of “the coolest things.”
“I’m trying to preach what God thinks, what his word says, straight up,” he said.
Ultimately, Bortel said, God is the one who will bring the SGA vision together and put it in action for next year.
“Seeing what God will do through the wiring that I have in my head, through the team of SGA that will be super cool already, from what I’m seeing… that’s gonna be a solid, legit group that have hearts that are so open and passionate about this school,” Bortel said. “If that passion unites [with] my passion for God, and those things come together, there’s a lot that God can do, and I’m praying that he does.”
Rebekah Erway is a senior Christian education major and campus news editor for Cedars. She enjoys random questions, and if she were a cupcake, she would be dark chocolate with a raspberry filling.