Rumors Aside, This Is What SGA Is About

I joined the Student Government Association here at Belmont University simply because I had heard the complaints from people in the music school, hall mates, and even some faculty. I did not want to go through four years of my undergraduate study here being one of those people that complained, but never even tried to get answers to those concerns. I never felt like Belmont’s upper administration was out to get us, but would appreciate more people letting them know about student concerns. Turns out, I was right.  

Out of all honesty, I had people tell me not to join SGA because it would be a lot of political jargon and zero results. I also had many music majors who were shocked that I would take time away from my piano playing to focus on something that those thought would not benefit my music career. All the rumors made me apply as soon as I could because I wanted to find out for myself. 

My sophomore year was the first year I joined and it was exciting and professional. I had to show up to meetings in business attire and (every now and then) I would Google a couple of phrases from Robert’s Rules of Order to make it seem like I was very “political”. I had a fear that people thought I was an outcast, but that ended up not being true as members continued to help me fight for the students with space reallocation, cafeteria policies, etc. I felt important on campus because I was doing something for the better of all my friends that complained. 

I had made many friends in the organization my first year and I definitely was on my way to get another application for my junior year when the one and only, Chris Dickerson, stopped me. When he asked me to run with him, I felt like all my hard work and outside involvement was being noticed. We were a great team running for Vice President and President of 2016-2017. He was assertive and I was persuasive, and together we were a team SGA probably hadn’t seen in a while. We were from two different colleges within Belmont and had two completely different perspectives on college life here. Yes, I got frustrated with him sometimes, but he got frustrated with me too. This was inevitable as we spent six hours or more with each other with office hours, Monday nights from 5pm-9pm, and the extra campus outreach events we loved to attend. 

I never thought I could run a Congress meeting with Parliamentary Procedure or even make the time with my schedule to balance practicing and SGA. However, I worked hard and it paid off. My advisor, Jessica Dykes, helped me get the courage to be assertive and confident although I was new at this. She helped me find my voice whether it was standing up for a stance I had on a topic, or just by being confident in the decision I had already made. Whatever it was, I was pushed beyond my comfort zone and became a better person because of it. 

The people in this organization looked up to me, but still gave me grace. That is what kept me going. At the end of the day, I am just a student who wants to help out an organization. My Robert’s Rules of Order may not be perfect, but my passion for helping this campus is what people want to see and I will continue until the school tells me I have to graduate. 

This is what SGA is about. The political jargon is non-existent. We use a simple, watered-down version of Robert’s Rules of Order in order to keep things running at a fast pace. Our advisor, cabinet members, and previous congress members help get people up-to-date on everything so their voice is heard. We are able to get things accomplished, whether you know it or not, SGA helps put on Homecoming, talks to upper administration about your concerns, documents Coffee and Conversation, and is always writing legislation to better the University.  Most importantly, I am returning to SGA this upcoming year as the Vice President again because the people who support this organization have made me feel like a family. I cannot imagine what I would do without SGA where I can step away from the constant nagging of homework, papers, and all the stresses of school. Yes, SGA can get intense when we all start discussing about a concern that involves hundreds of students on campus, but we hug each other before we leave and do what we need for the next meeting.  Put all the rumors aside, and do what I did. I applied and became a family member, and found out that SGA was so much more than I had ever imagined. 

Macy Thompson
Student Body Vice President
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Why We Love Belmont

For about two months, SGA has been running a social media campaign called “Why We Love Belmont.” Luci Fernandez and I have been going around campus asking students, alumni, and staff to tell us what they love about Belmont. The answers have included the location in Nashville, the way that the administration allows students to express themselves, and the great friends people have made here. Working on this project has opened my eyes to amazing things about our school that I had always taken for granted, and it’s gotten me thinking about why I love Belmont.

To me, Belmont is special because every student here is passionate about something. We have ambitious goals for ourselves and we’re actively pursuing them through student organizations, internships, and service in the greater Nashville community. Belmont may be known for the School of Music and Curb College, but you can also find students working on everything from medical research to short films to law. It’s truly an inspirational environment to be a part of.

At the same time, community is a core part of what makes Belmont unique. You would think that putting a bunch of highly motivated students on a small campus would create rivalry and competition, but the students and faculty here are all working together to help each other achieve our goals. Whether I’m studying in the library or laying on the lawn on a sunny day, I always feel welcomed and inspired by the other students around me, and I think that’s an atmosphere that is very unique to our university.

As you’re gearing up for one last relaxing long weekend and looking ahead to finals week, take a minute to think about why you love Belmont, and then go do something to spread that love to the community!

Bronte Lebo

Congresswoman

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Take Back the Night

            They began the night with the statistic that 1 in 4 women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. I’d heard that number many times before throughout different sexual assault awareness and prevention programs I’d had to sit through during freshman orientation and as required by my fraternity per Belmont and national policy, but it had always been abstract. It never felt real. I know plenty of women; there was no way that such a high number of them had gone through something so traumatic. So I never thought about it much. I’ve always been wary of the fact that it is prevalent on college campuses, but that was as far as it had gone. I was afraid to face the implications.

            A friend of mine invited me to an event called “Take Back the Night” which she was helping to organize as a part of Women’s History Month. I cared about supporting her and thought it would be a great opportunity to invite some of my fraternity brothers for the sake of supporting awareness. Sexual assault has been associated with fraternities, and I wanted to make sure that neither my brothers nor myself were complicit in creating a culture where that would be tolerated.

            The night of the event came and I walked over to the chapel where the event was being held with only one of my brothers; I assumed more would be waiting for us. Nobody was. I assumed it was fine; we were there early. They would be on their way. Only three more showed up, but that was still five more than nobody, and that was at least a start. The program began. “1 in 4 women are sexually-“ I’m embarrassed to say I had already begun tuning them out as I’d heard that statistic stated so many times in so many dry, boring contexts. But then four girls walked up to the podium and said “We are four in four.” “Wait?” I thought, “I know some of those girls.” And they performed a piece they had written, and they shared parts of their stories, and I was stunned. It was all I could think about the duration of that first section of the night.

            But the speakers in the chapel weren’t the only people we would be hearing from. In fact, the next portion of the evening was meant for everyone else on campus to hear us. We were going to march from the chapel to the Bell Tower. I could tell that my brothers uncomfortable, already thinking about how they would sneak out quietly from the back of the march. For a second, I considered leaving with them. I kept marching.

            Most of the group yelled in response to the chants instigated by the woman leading the march, a woman with a shock of platinum blonde hair and an oversized denim jacket, carrying a drum and shouting “Show me what democracy looks like!” And everyone responded “This is what democracy looks like!” Then, “Show me what equality looks like!” “This is what equality looks like!” “Show me what fighting looks like!” “This is what fighting looks like!” “Show me what surviving looks like!” “This is what surviving looks like!”

            Somehow, between the chapel and the Bell Tower, I had moved up towards the front of the crowd and had joined in the chanting. I am not a chanter. I am not a yeller in general. This was a strange obligation for me to have developed during the walk. But it felt right; I was yelling with people who meant what they were yelling, and I meant it too.

            When we got to the Bell Tower, the chanting wound down and electric candles were passed out to the attendees. This was the third portion of the night, the vigil. We got in a circle and held hands and a professor who had been involved with the organizing of the event set the tone. Anyone who wanted to speak could. I won’t get into the specifics of what anybody said; what was said in that circle absolutely deserves to stay in that circle. Those are not my stories to tell, but the fact that they were told changed everything.

            I recognized many of the faces in that circle. Some of them were women I had classes with, had been to my fraternity’s formals, I had gone on dates with, I had led through freshman orientation. And they told us their stories, and I cried with them as they told their stories. All the statistics that had been thrown at me became personal; the statistics didn’t matter at that point. Their words did, the emotions conveyed through the words. The strength they showed in that moment and the strength they’d had to muster throughout their entire lives; these women were stronger than I would ever have to be. And they survived, they are surviving. Women who had shown me love during my time at Belmont.

            I didn’t speak during the vigil. I was a listener, a support, a friend. Afterwards, I thought about Job and how his friends decided to try and comfort him in his suffering, but that comfort meant sitting down in the dirt with him for seven days, silent because they saw how great his suffering was. They couldn’t speak; it wouldn’t do justice. I found myself in the position of the silent friend. I needed to be. All I could do in that moment was listen as woman after woman came forward and poured out their soul in front of a group of mostly strangers, telling the most difficult stories they had to tell. The fact that I was invited to be part of such a trusting, vulnerable group is something I will forever be humbled by and grateful for.

            The night eventually wound down. The professor unofficially running the vigil asked if there were any last thoughts before the closing benediction. A couple more girls spoke, and then the benediction began. It was given by one of my closest friends at Belmont who prefaced the benediction by saying that she too was a survivor. “Not her,” I thought. Not because I didn’t think it could have happened to her, but I was too close, too hurt by the fact that even someone as good as her had to have experienced something so evil, so senseless. And I couldn’t go over and hug her, tell her it was okay. I could only cry. And I did throughout the entire prayer, trying my best to listen as she spoke, but unable to make sense of everything I had just bore witness to.

            And then it was over. People began hugging and then headed off to complete whatever homework they had left to do. I didn’t know what to say or how to handle that jarring an emotional transition from the vigil to having to go work on a presentation. It felt insulting. I felt like I needed to do something, and, thankfully, I realized that there were absolutely things I could do.

            The philosopher Albert Camus talks about how one mustn’t fight for the sake of forcing an ideology but must fight for the sake of affirming the intrinsic value of human life. What I saw that night was a moment within that very fight, a fight that I had committed to becoming a part of. It wasn’t statistics that sparked that fight within me; it was stories, stories from real people, difficult stories about people broken and suffering.

            But that wasn’t the only way in which the stories were framed. These were stories of survival, of advocacy. Of strangers banding together for the sake of eradicating evil, for the sake of affirming human dignity and life, of standing up for the ability of people to tell their stories and know that they won’t go unheard. These are the kinds of stories that change people, that changed me. That have the potential to change everything. 

Tommy Kessler
Student
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Resources can be found here

 

SGA Takeaway from the Annual Parking Committee Meeting

This morning, I had the opportunity to participate in the university’s annual Parking Committee meeting. Several representatives of different Belmont areas were there including Campus Security, Communications, and Legal Counsel. The goal of this meeting was to discuss the previous year’s parking reports as well as discuss policy recommendations for the 2017-2018 year. 

In the latter part of the discussion, I, as well as another Belmont student that SGA invited, voiced the concerns of the student body in relation to visitor parking on the west side of campus as well as concerns over the new building. In this time, we articulated the frustrations of students from the College of Visual and Performing Arts who believe opening up parking on the west side to visitors shows a lack of respect from administration. It is my belief, as well as the committee’s, that the decision to remove 35 visitor spaces for student use will not alleviate the perceived problems with parking. Unfortunately, in the parking world, when one spot opens up, there are twenty more people who want that space. 

For students who are concerned about Senior Capstone art assignments or carrying their large instrument from the Curb Garage, we came to the understanding that the Office of Campus Security allows for loading and unloading – if you notify them. While this is not a new policy, we all agreed that this piece of information was not communicated as clearly as it could have been to students. As for parking in these areas, the spaces on Belmont Blvd are open after 4:30 pm to Belmont students hoping to have closer access to the library during night time hours. 

I too wish that I could walk 5 feet from my car to my classroom, but on a university campus, that is just not realistic. During peak hours, the Johnson and the Curb Garage parking areas never exceed 49% capacity. 

My advice for the students in the CVPA who have classes on the west side of campus, don’t spend your time trying to find an empty parking spot next to Leu or the Library. Leave a few extra minutes for class, call Campus Security [(615) 460-6617] ahead of the time you will be in class, let them know you will be unloading a large art piece or instrument, unload, park in the Curb, and walk the five minutes. 

Personally, I find it unreasonable to force or expect the administration to take responsibility for its student’s time management. They have been so generous and willing over the years to maximize the places for students, faculty, and staff to find parking on this campus. 

While it’s a little tight right now with the new construction occurring over in Hillside, those who have been displaced due to construction, will be relocated once construction ends. For those who are wondering about the new residents of the new ten story building, they will be parking in other places such as the Johnson and TK garages with new access roads being opened up. 

Unfortunately, parking is expensive and can be upwards of $10,000 a spot. Belmont has plans of growing the current parking space numbers, but with capacity at its current low percentages, there is no need to spend millions of dollars on another parking garage that will stay empty like the Johnson. 
 

Sydney Finchum

Parliamentarian

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Why Am I Running? Shania Jones on Her Campaign for Student Body President

Why am I running? It's a little easier to first tell you why I'm not running. I'm not running for a nametag on my blazer. I'm not running for a key to a door in the Beaman. I'm not running to boost my résumé. I'm not running for more followers on Instagram. I'm running for one reason and one reason only. I'm running because I genuinely care about this University and every member of the Belmont community.

I’ve been at Belmont for almost 3 years and from the beginning I’ve been committed to being a voice for the student body. Every fall I’ve walked around the campus collecting signatures from my peers to be on the ballot for SGA. Each year you all have continued to give me the opportunity to represent you in student government. I have not taken that responsibility lightly. I have served on the Campus Outreach and Events Committee where I helped give students a voice through Coffee and Conversation. I then served on the University Initiatives Committee where I helped begin It’s On Us and Take Back the Night programming and compiled a report on how to reallocate unused campus space for the benefit of the students. Currently I serve on the Finance Committee where I am a part of a team that awards grant petition funding to organizations all across this campus. I’ve worked closely with campus security to ensure the safety of the Belmont community and I also wrote the recent reformation of Student Government that makes members more accountable. Macy has a similar path within SGA, serving on the Policy Review Committee, working with the School of Music on various proposals, and ultimately dedicating this past year to serving as the Student Body Vice President. All of this isn’t to repeat what could be found on our résumés- I’ve already told you that those have nothing to do with this campaign- but instead to share all of the hard work that we’ve been doing for the student body. Macy and I aren’t starting to care for the Belmont community just for this campaign, we’ve been doing it since our first day on this campus.

We want to build on this experience and our established relationships with administrators to create more communication between students, those who represent them, and those who make decisions for the campus. Transparency and accountability are key to this communication. If elected I know that my victory wouldn’t come without the support of students across the campus and I commit myself to being accessible to the student body throughout my term. I promise that I will communicate openly and often with the students and I also promise that I will give full attention to any issue that you want relayed to administration. SGA is the bridge between these two groups and I want to make sure that students are being heard and informed on all facets of campus life.

Every student has the right to have their voice heard. Macy and I want to strengthen the bonds between SGA and all of the organizations on campus. As representatives of the student body, SGA should be on the forefront of discussions of diversity and inclusion; Macy and I will spearhead those conversations while also collaborating with HOPE Council and its member organizations. We believe in advocating for the Greek men and women of this campus- ensuring that there are spaces that they can meet in, influencing policies and procedures that impact them, and contributing to the discussion on Greek expansion. There are countless student organizations, sports teams, academic departments, etc. that make Belmont what it is. We want to be the catalyst for a stronger community with and between the different entities at Belmont.

We aren’t running on promises we can’t keep and we don’t think it’s fair to campaign and not deliver what we ran on. However, there is one thing that we can say for certain; anyone can tell you what they might do, but Macy and I have the history to show you what we’ve already done and the passion to show you all that can be accomplished. I hope you see why I am running now and I hope that I can count on your support in this election.

 

Shania Jones

Together We Can. Jacob Sykes on His Campaign for Student Body President

Both Si and I have had the wonderful opportunity of serving in the finance committee over the past two years. During our tenure there we have gotten to hear the amazing work that student orgs are doing at Belmont and beyond. I also had the honor of serving this past year as the Chaplain of SGA.

We are interested in running for SGA because we believe in Belmont. Believing in Belmont doesn't merely mean accepting the good in the status quo, but in recognizing all that Belmont can become and is becoming. We feel that this position represents the highest honor that can be afforded a student--and that is the honor of representing our peers. In everything we do, big and small, we hope to be true to the wishes of the Student Body and to humbly represent them in service. This would be our greatest privilege.
 
We would like to first address parking. This includes but is not limited to reduction in unused guest spots and the creation of short term library parking for students running in to print a paper. In terms of classes, we want to continue moving forward on reforming BellCore. Additionally, GreekLife is filled with students who contribute so much to the Belmont identity and we want to contribute to solving the many issues pertinent to these amazing orgs. We will work together to build stronger interaction between Hope Council and SGA to harbor an inclusive community. We would like to see the Bruiser space next to Chick-fil-a be filled, as well as prolonged cafeteria breakfast hours.
Together we can.

 

Jacob Sykes

BELL Core Student Forum: A Long Hard Look at Belmont’s Liberal Arts Education

I had the idea for this student forum when I and some other concerned students heard about some BELL Core reforms that have been in the works since January. I spoke to some of the faculty involved in the process, and together, I, Dr. Noel Boyle, chair of General Education, and Dr. Bonnie Smith-Whitehouse, Faculty Senate President, decided to put together a student forum where students could get clear on the proposed changes to the BELL Core and ask questions, make comments, and/or voice concerns. This forum was co-hosted by the Department of General Education, Belmont SGA, and Faculty Senate. Last Thursday, March 16th between 50-70 students attended the BELL Core Student Forum, where Dr. Boyle laid out what the current BELL Core requires, the Provost’s proposed changes, and then the BELL Core Committee’s counter-proposal (see included photo attachments). Once the presentation portion of the Forum was over—it was roughly 15 or 20 minutes—the rest of the hour was reserved for students to ask questions and comment. 

To better gauge the academic backgrounds of the students attending, every student who spoke was asked to give their name, year, and major. As a result, we were able to see that there was indeed a diverse turn out of students across all fields of academic study (humanities, social sciences, business school, foreign languages, music school, natural sciences, etc.). Ultimately the major changes to the “liberal learning” portions of the BELL Core were as follows: 

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While it may seem that these changes are not major, the result is a significant cut in the requirements for the liberal studies in the humanities, social sciences, and languages across the board, to the extent that Bachelors of Science, Business Administration, Science in Nursing, Social Work, and of Fine Arts and Music are only required to take a bare minimum of these liberal learning courses. One wonders: will these degrees be truly reflective of a liberal arts education, or a vocational one?

In response, most students attending the forum felt weary of these changes. Although Dr. Boyle communicated that the rationale for these changes were to give students “more flexibility,” students across disciplines were concerned that this added “flexibility" would backfire given that in their experience with their peers has shown them that people would avoid taking courses in the liberal arts and would rather stay in their fields. One question that was brought up on several occasions was why would the University not seek to grow their academic departments in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and Math and Sciences proportionally to meet the projected growth of future student enrollment. Another was why Belmont would proclaim the slogan “From Here to Anywhere” when the only majors required to study a foreign language were those getting a B.A. Furthermore, students were deeply concerned that in making these sorts of changes to the general education curriculum, Belmont is turning its focus to growing more professional degrees and limiting the growth of liberal arts, which includes the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and foreign languages. 

Overall, there were only about three or so students of the total that attended who had little concerns with the proposals. On the whole, students were very pleased to have been allowed this opportunity to be a part of this conversation. After the forum, a number of students expressed an interest in holding another one of these forums before a final decision about the BELL Core is reached by the BELL Core Committee. When I relayed this interested to Dr. Smith-Whitehouse and Dr. Boyle, they told me that this would be a reasonable possibility, though no date has been set for a second forum yet. In the end, I was inspired by the dedication and concern that the student body seems to have for the quality of their liberal arts education and for that of future Belmont students. If I have learned anything about this experience, it’s that students, when given a platform to reflect on their education, will turn out and will speak their minds. 

Khadija Ali Amghaiab

Congresswoman

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From Belmont Bruin to Founding Father

Chris Lee pictured far left, Courtesy of ChicagoNow.com

Chris Lee pictured far left, Courtesy of ChicagoNow.com

Chris Lee, at the young, scrappy, and hungry age of 21, somehow found himself in quite possibly one of the best musicals to ever set the stage. You guessed it… Hamilton. Chris, a rising Musical Theatre senior at Belmont, sent in a video audition after the musical announced they would be touring in Chicago and multiple other cities around the U.S. Chris had only a few small professional credits under his belt when he learned he would be starring as the dual roles of Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson in Chicago’s production of the hip-hop inspired musical. Chris was very active during his time at Belmont. He was cast in many of the school’s musicals as well as winning the Urban Pop Showcase last year with his band, Sound Proof. In addition to being a full-time Belmont student, Chris also performed in many community theatre productions in and around Nashville.

Hamilton: An American Musical (in case you’ve been living under a rock) tells the inspiring story of Alexander Hamilton and the Caribbean immigrant’s rise to be the U.S.’s first Secretary of the Treasury. The musical’s diverse cast includes people of all backgrounds and skin colors, reiterating that this country was, in fact, built on the backs of immigrants. Created by the brilliant Lin Manuel Miranda, Hamilton is changing the way history is being taught, encouraging people to dig deeper into this country’s roots and ask critical questions that perhaps our middle school American History teachers failed to mention.

I had the opportunity to take a dance class with Chris my first semester at Belmont, and I knew even then, that this boy had a bright future ahead of him. It was a nerve-racking experience for a freshman being in a class with so many talented individuals; however, Chris never failed to make me feel comfortable, welcome, and like I was a part of their community. He was such a joy to be around, and his eagerness to learn was so infectious; it pushed not only me, but everyone else in the class to be better dancers and all-around performers. He always seemed genuinely interested in me and my story, and that was so refreshing coming from such a uniquely talented person.

This past Christmas, to my surprise, my parents got us tickets to see the show’s run in Chicago. I swear I cried for a solid thirty minutes, because I thought it would be years before I got to finally experience this show that has impacted my life in so many ways. Seeing Chris onstage as one of the leads was definitely not disappointing. I may be a bit biased, but there was no one else on that stage who looked like they were having as much fun as Chris was. He brought life and humor to both the roles of Frenchman, Marquis de Lafayette, in the first act as well as the fast-rapping villain, Thomas Jefferson, in the second act. I am always proud to be a Bruin, however, watching such a humble and talented performer such as Chris on a Broadway stage echoed what a wonderful platform and nurturing environment Belmont is for its students to pursue their dreams, whether that be winning a Grammy, being an NBA basketball champion, or even being a Broadway star in one of the world’s most impactful musicals. I think it’s safe to say that Chris is definitely not throwing away “his shot.”

Madison Kendrick

Campus Outreach & Events Chair

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Blessings

I think it is easy to forget how big of a blessing it is to attend Belmont University. Despite the many complaints students seem to express, there are so many things about this school that make each one of us love it enough to spend four years of our lives here. Whether it was your first visit to campus, a Towering Traditions experience, or simply Dr. Fisher waving to you as you pass by, we have all felt a connection here that makes Belmont feel like home.

Personally, I have been impacted by Belmont’s steadfast spirituality, secure career opportunities, encouraging Greek community, and more. It is a blessing that Belmont’s Greek life fosters an environment centered on service, leadership, and academics, rather than reputation or competition. It is a blessing to recognize the many opportunities set in place to facilitate success in the workplace upon graduation. And it is certainly a blessing to be surrounded by faculty and staff that are invested in the spiritual growth and development of students.

We seem to sometimes overlook the considerable emphasis placed on students at Belmont. Although you may disagree with some decisions or policies, remember that you are the one spending time and money to be here. Share your voice and opinions, get involved, and take advantage of the countless opportunities this school has to offer.

"We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count." 

 

Meredith Edwards 

Congresswoman 

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Battle of the Bruins

On January 23, the Belmont Student-Athlete Advisory Committee hosted its sixth annual Battle of the Bruins Talent Show to benefit Special Olympics Tennessee. Tickets were sold for five dollars each. $3,400 was raised at this event held in the Massey Performing Arts Center.  Twelve Belmont sports teams performed acts. Antonio and the Southern Bruins Band opened the show. The women’s basketball team won Battle of the Bruins for the second year in a row performing dances to a mashup of Disney songs.

The golf and volleyball teams tied for second place. The men and women’s golf teams performed a synchronized swimming act and the volleyball team danced through the decades. The softball team won the People’s Choice Award voted by the audience. Everyone could vote by placing money in the basket of the team of their choice. The cheerleading squad did a 2016 rewind, including references to Harambe and the bottle flip challenge. The track and field team did an old western themed track versus field rap battle. The baseball team’s act was a one-man show as one player did a rendition of Napoleon Dynamite’s famous dance. The women’s soccer players presented a version of the Bachelorette with the contestants inspired by other Belmont athletes. The men’s basketball team did a series of skits. The men and women’s tennis teams also performed a skit that was inspired by the T.V. show, Stranger Things.

Music City Miracle Choir and Metro Parks Disabilities Program also performed heartwarming songs. “Amazing Grace” was signed and sang by Nashville’s Metro Parks disabilities group. Music City Miracle Choir sang “True Colors” for their first song and concluded the night by singing sing Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”  All of the athletes joined them onstage.  It was an all-around comical and successful night.

 

Sarah Buda

Congresswoman 

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Two Schools, One Field

On September 1, 2016, over 150 musicians took the field in Vanderbilt’s Memorial Stadium. It was the first football game of the season and the musicians in the Spirit of Gold were eager to show off their hard work. Every marcher would sing and play Vandy’s fight song, but not every student is from Vanderbilt. In fact, there’s a fast-growing group of “Belmodores” in the marching band. These are the people who attend Belmont, but are in Vanderbilt’s marching band. Vanderbilt allows anyone who is attending a Nashville college or university to participate in their marching band. This allows for great diversity in the band. No matter the school, all marchers have something in common; they love being on the field and putting on a great show.

Belmont students also have the opportunity to be in Vanderbilt’s chapter of Tau Beta Sigma, a music fraternity organization. You will also see “Belmodores” in Vanderbilt’s Pep Band and Dore Slam (Drumline organization). These organizations allow for interaction between the two campuses and Belmont students have an additional musical outlet to explore.

Marching band is an activity that takes a lot of time and dedication. It can be difficult spending long Saturdays marching and playing. All the hard work pays off though. It pays off when you meet so many talented musicians. It pays off when you get to perform a show you love. It pays off when you go to bed ad every muscle is sore because you put so much hard work in. So the next time you see the marching band, wave at your fellow Bruins. We may be wearing the Star V, but we know that it is always Bruin Time!

 

Sydney Branch

Congresswoman

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Be Still

If your semester was anything like mine, this break was a much needed affair. Between averaging three hours of sleep a night sustained by nothing but coffee, to endless hours in the library pouring over mountains of papers and books, it was time for rest. Sometimes that’s a hard thing to admit. I don’t want to have to admit I’m tired because for whatever reason that means I’m weak.

After all, I’m American through and through… and American means hustle. That means wake up and burden myself with that calling; with that imagined sense of duty that tells me that my worth is dictated by what I accomplish. In my classes, in my church, in student government and beyond, I tell myself that my value is dictated by what I do. In pursuit of some higher sense of calling I unwittingly reduce myself to mechanized humanity and I lose my sense of self in the process of becoming.

And this is not to say that achievements are bad in and of themselves. Within each of us there is an innate desire to pursue a goal in life, and tied to this goal is our sense of purpose. The danger is when we fool ourselves into believing that the achievement of a goal is attached to true satisfaction. We tell ourselves things like: “When I have this GPA…” “When I graduate…” “When I get to law school…” “When I build that business…” “When I have that house…” “When that person loves me…” … then I will be happy. Like fish to bait we burden ourselves with ensuring we achieve these accomplishments, falsely believing that when we do we will feel wanted. 

The truth is that our deepest fears in life, whether we care to admit it or not, are tied to this sense that we are worthless. That in order to be worth more we must be more.

I love to hike. When I’m not working on something it is easily my favorite thing to do. For me, hiking is like life’s pause button. Something about being out on my own in the forest is healing. I smell the scent of cedars broken by a stormy gail wafting beneath the softly lit canopy above. I feel the touch of wind on my skin, tainted by the stench of the briny waters from which it came. I listen to the sound of crickets and pigeons singing their songs in the distance. Underpinning each of these things is an unconscious dependence on something bigger than oneself. The trees do not wonder how they will grow. The birds do not toil and stress for fear that they aren’t loved. God provides. If God will provide for the trees and the sparrow, he also will provide for me. Why? Because in the midst of every moment the world is sustained by God’s reckless love for that which he has created. The bird, which has no clue what Bio Chemistry or Anatomy classes are somehow manages to exist—merely because a loving God provides in the anarchy and chaos of creation. It is written into the fabric of the world. In the chaos of life, I can also be sustained by the knowledge that God loves me. I do not need to become more valuable… to him I am already so valuable.

This is why rest is so important. It is only when I stop that I recognize that I am already loved. It is only when I stop that I see the countless ways that he has already proved that I am valuable to Him. He has proved it in His provision of friends and family who love me even when I think that I am unlovable—and He has proved it (especially in this season) with the provision of His son who loves me more than I could ever love myself.

Rest and experience life during this break knowing that you do not need to work to become more loved. You are already more loved than you know.

Wishing you Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,

 

Jacob Sykes

Chaplain

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Tennessee World Affairs Council

Being a Belmont student comes with amazing opportunities. Recently I was gifted one of the most amazing opportunities. One of my professors, Associate Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies and Global Education Dr. Barnard, told me about a scholarship opportunity where I would use the funds I would receive to attend a conference in D.C. I applied and was accepted to attend the conference with the Tennessee World Affairs Council. TN WAC “is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational charity based in Nashville that works to build understanding of global issues in our communities.” They are based on our campus at 1513 Compton Avenue and are working toward having a stronger relationship with the Belmont community. This organization offers amazing opportunities for political science, government, law or any other type of student! Since learning about TN WAC, I have met amazing people on our campus, such as Ambassador Charles R. Bowers and Ambassador Ronald Schlicher.

The national conference also allowed for me to meet incredible people and go to amazing places. Some of the speakers were the US Secretary of Commerce, the Chairman and CEO of UPS, the President of the American Foreign Service Association, Senator George J. Mitchell and more. I ate lunch with the German Embassy’s head of the Economics and Science Department, Peter Rondorf. I visited Brookings, a think tank that aims to solve problems facing society. I even visited the Ambassador of France’s house for a reception (and I was able to sneak him my business card). As you can see, this organization can offer you a million opportunities. I highly recommend that you check it out and even join!

For more information click here.

Ali Humbrecht
Chair, Campus Outreach and Events

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The Importance of Diversity

As I was choosing colleges, I only looked at three factors – a nursing program, distance from home, and cost. Given these factors, I came across Belmont, which had been my number one choice for all of my senior year because of the outstanding nursing program offered. After choosing Belmont, I realized that I barely knew anything about the school besides the beautiful campus and the nursing program. When my mom told me that she thought there would be a lack of diversity at the school, I was honestly pretty shocked. I went to high school in an area known as the “Brentwood Bubble,” stereotyped as a rich white community. Although this does not actually apply to all of Brentwood, this image is prevalent in many areas. Because I didn’t go to a very diverse high school, I appreciated even the smallest amount of diversity we had. I imagined Belmont to be even less diverse than I was used to. Even though I have never felt major cultural discrimination in my life and have always been very open about my culture, I still felt worried about going to a predominantly white institution.

During TT week there was a diversity talk, and the first thought that came up in my mind was: how in the world are they going to talk for two hours about diversity when it barely exists at a small school like this? After the first ten minutes, however, I realized I had been very close-minded about the term “diverse”. This is when I learned that diversity takes many forms. There are so many students coming from nearly every state and even different countries to form a community at Belmont that was a new diverse environment for me. Everyone has something unique to offer to our community, and it makes life on this campus interesting and exciting. Diversity does not have to be shown just by the color of one’s skin; it can be seen everywhere.

 

Megan Kim

Congresswoman

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Why You Should Study Abroad in College

College is an intense time of learning. Beyond just learning more about our major area of study, we also learn a lot more about ourselves and what we truly want out of life. There is a way to intensify that time of adventure and self-discovery, and that comes in the form of studying abroad. Putting yourself in a new environment where you don't know everyone already, where there might be a language barrier, and where you are far from the familiar is a scary thing. However, those fears seem to melt away when you get to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle against a midnight sky, or when you get to eat the best pizza you've ever had in Rome, or when you get to hike along seaside cliffs in Ireland and all you can see for miles are rolling hills of green grass and the wild waves of the Atlantic Ocean. On a study abroad trip, you will also encounter many people who will impact you more than you could have ever imagined. Living in a foreign country brings people together in unique ways, and it's my promise to you that you will meet lifelong friends through your experience in international education. There's something about taking a Spanish class in Spain, or working an internship in London, or taking an art class in Florence that makes you feel connected to history and excited about all the doors that may open to you. You gain a special cultural awareness, stronger adaptation abilities, and enhanced communication skills when you commit to all that study abroad has to offer, and those traits will serve you well as you look beyond college into the real world. The real world might seem scary from the comfort of Nashville, but I guarantee that after your experience abroad, the real world will start to feel a lot less big and mysterious and a whole lot more like an endless invitation to adventure.

Get more information about Belmont's Study Abroad program. 

 

Zoey Bloom

Director, Campus Outreach and Events

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Our Catholic Community

Belmont strives to teach students the values of integrity, inquiry, collaboration, service and humility. As a Christian community, we believe we can accomplish great things through God’s grace and the act of service. Belmont focuses on the fact that we are not strangers but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of His household. Belmont’s belief in Christian Community and Commitment is so incredible because it teaches students that we are placed on this earth to serve others and to aim for goals far bigger than ourselves. Belmont seeks to incorporate Christian ways of thinking and serving self-sacrificially into all that we do.

I know I personally have grown in my faith here at Belmont with a group called BCC (Belmont Catholic Community). In this group we have a close-knit community where we have weekly meetings, bible studies, service projects, social gatherings and we attend mass together. The beautiful people I have met through BCC have become some of my closest friends and mentors in my faith. BCC is something unique to Belmont because it allows for those of a similar faith to come together but we seek to include those of other denominations as well. There are so many opportunities for students and staff to engage in spiritual development whether it is through convocations, chapel, clubs or attending local churches. Belmont’s Christian community provides students with the values and opportunities to engage, explore, take risks and truly transform the world.I truly hope that you are able to fully surround yourself in Belmont’s Christian community. If you have any questions about getting plugged in specifically to Belmont Catholic Community please feel free to reach out to me at kalin.hagedorn@pop.belmont.edu or check out BCC’s Facebook page.

 

Kalin Hagedorn

Congresswoman

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Building on the Past. Optimism for the Future.

In reflection of the groundwork that Student Government began to lay last year, I knew that this year would have to exceed all expectations to continue meeting the growing needs of students. When asked by our President, Chris Dickerson, to serve as Student Body Treasurer, I began formulating ideas on how to do just that. As outlined in the Finance section of the Strategic Plan, I have every intention of doing so. 


Part of that successful foundation last year was the dramatic improvement of grant petitions. We doubled our previous year’s petitions to benefit sixty unique student organizations with awards totaling more than $38,000. This monumental accomplishment would not have been possible without the Finance Committee ensuring that every dollar that was spent was going to enhance the student experience, but, more importantly, it wouldn’t have happened without student organizations’ trust in SGA. I quickly realized that this year we would need to put even more into our grant petition budget if we wanted to continue meeting the needs of more and more student organizations each year.


I was recently informed that the Student Government Association would be receiving an additional $25,000 from senior leadership to meet the rising needs of the student body. I can assure you that all $25,000, in addition to our initial $50,000 budget, will be completely utilized to ensure that we are best serving the student body. We will not only be increasing the amount given through grant petitions, but will also increase funding in other areas of the SGA budget. These include #BruinVote16  programs, reviving Bruin Den Day, and other collaborative events throughout the year. 


I am very optimistic that SGA will accomplish all of its goals this year and I promise that every decision will be made with the student body in mind. If you have questions about the SGA budget, grant petitions, or any other area of concern, please feel free to contact me.

 

Colin M. Haslett

Student Body Treasurer

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Electoral Reform

Last Monday Congress passed the Constitutional Reform Amendment which has the goal of changing the electoral system for congressional elections. After much debate, the amendment passed. Student Engagement and Leadership Development, senior leadership and the student body now needs to approve this change. 

Check out the amendment here

Read more about the amendment here

Elections and Reform

As the year comes to a near close, SGA is still hard at work to make sure that things run smoothly in the years to come. Voting for our Presidential/Vice-Presidential Election is now live! Polls open on Wednesday, March 30th, at 8:00 am and will close on Friday, April 1st at 4:00pm. All voting will be done through Belmont’s website. Make sure you vote for your President and Vice President! 

While new leaders are stepping up to the plate for the next academic year with fresh and new ideas, Belmont’s current Student Government Association President Jonathon Ranking has introduced the Intent of Reform Resolution which would completely change the way congress represents students according to the college they belong in. 

As of now there are several colleges on campus: College of Business, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, College of Entertainment and Music Business, College of Pharmacy, College of Health Sciences and Nursing, College of Sciences and Mathematics, College of Law, College of Theology and Christian Ministry, College of Visual and Performing Arts, and the College of Interdisciplinary Studies and Global Education. Each college would be given a guaranteed seats within Congress. Extra seats available for that specific college would be granted on a population basis. For example, the College of Entertainment and Music Business would have more representatives than the College of Theology and Christian Ministry. At the moment, SGA is not presented with a vast diversity within these different colleges and this new proposition would ensure that everyone is represented. Who knows the issues of the students better than the students themselves who spend their entire day in Massey, WAC, McWhorter, etc? 

Student Government is all about having the voices of the students heard and this is a great way to implement that value. The year may be coming to a near end but great things are on the horizon. Belmont’s SGA cannot wait to see what new faces and new leadership have to offer in the year to come.

SGA Announces Lawn Closure

On Monday, September 14, SGA met with senior leadership to discuss our strategic plan, which can be found here. The meeting went wonderfully and was incredibly productive, and we look forward to working closely with senior leadership in the future. 

In that meeting, SGA was also asked to help spread the word about the upcoming lawn closure. The president of the Student Government Association, Jonathan Rankin, has written a post about it which can be found here

We also held our first Congress meeting! The new members will be officially inaugurated on September 21st, so this unofficial first Congress meeting served as an introductory/informative session. The new members were presented with introductions to parliamentary procedure, the legislative process, and various other tools necessary for harboring a strong, fruitful Congress! Our next Congress meeting will be on September 28th in WAC 1034. All are welcome.

SGA’s semester has finally hit the ground running, and we can’t wait to continue interacting with senior leadership and the student body to help make Belmont University a great place for all!