Shania Jones joined Belmont’s Student Government Association within the first week of being on campus her freshman year, because she wanted to make a difference. Three years later, she is gearing up to do just that as SGA’s newest president.
“This year is going to be awesome,” Jones says from the SGA office in the Beaman. “It is going to be fun. We are here to get an education, but everyone needs a little fun.”
Jones is a Nashville native, and Belmont has been her dream school since she was 12 years old. She has memories from childhood of driving past the campus in awe of the buildings. Her position as president is how she plans to leave her mark on a place she has always cared so much about.
Jones is energetic and unreserved, and she means what she says about wanting to make things fun. But there are a lot of nerves that accompany taking on such a large role, she said.
“I am not a great public speaker. I know that hands down. I don’t want to let anyone down,” Jones said.
Jones has never held a leadership position like this one.
People are going to look to her to fix major problems that occur and she isn’t quite sure how she’ll handle them. There will be a learning curve, Jones said.
That said, Jones is not in this alone. Her vice president, Macy Thompson, is entering her second year on the job, something uncommon for Belmont’s SGA, but something that will give her the necessary experience moving forward.
“I have learned from the mistakes of last year. Most executives in SGA are there for a year and then move on, but I get to really expand. I remember last year studying Robert’s Rules of Order and having a few mishaps in the beginning of the semester, and now I am able to go into our first congress meeting with so much more confidence. I know how to guide my meetings better this year,” Thompson said.
Thompson, who’s been involved in student government since high school, is addicted to it, she said.
“There is something really rewarding about helping the school you attend,” she said
Unlike Jones, Thompson grew up in Savannah, Georgia, and had always planned on attending a large state school. That was until she discovered Belmont and decided to give it a try. Instantly falling in love with the school, she knew Belmont was where she wanted to continue her educational journey, along with her work in student government.
“If you fall in love with something, you will succeed in it, and Macy thinks that is how she has gotten to where she is,” Jones said of Thompson.
But Thompson, thinking the student body would not want to see the same vice president two years in a row, didn’t think she would win the 2017 election. Jones felt the same way.
She thought it was unlikely they would win against two well-known candidates, she said.
Regardless of the final vote count, however, they both knew they would continue to serve SGA this year.
So their campaign was simple. They didn’t hand out stickers or buttons. They didn’t hang banners around campus. Instead, they focused their efforts on informing students about SGA. They wanted people to know there was an outlet for complaints, just as much as they wanted to win the election.
Their campaign was ultimately built on two goals: to make SGA better and to bring the Belmont student body together. In early April, the campaign paid off. Overcoming their own doubts and disbelief, Shania Jones and Macy Thompson won the election.
Jones said that there will be four areas of focus during their time in office: community, communication, safety and fun
First, Jones said the Belmont community will grow closer.
“We are going to bring everyone together. There will be more events where everyone feels welcome and everyone can meet one another,” she said.
Second, communication with administrators will be streamlined.
By informing the campus about impending safety issues and prevention, Jones said campus will be safer.
And finally, Jones and Thompson want everyone have a fun year.
The SGA president and vice president speak highly of each other and complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
“Shania is down to earth — she’s who the people need. She has been on so many committees and knows how they work, and I know how the executive positions work. We know the ins and outs,” Thompson said.
Jones said Thompson is “able to see the issues, Macy is good at knowing what is going to work to fix them,” she said.
“There isn’t going to be complaining without action to fix the problem. We are here to fix it,” Jones said.
Jones and Thompson will start their work Monday night at 5 p.m. in JAAC 1034.
This article written by Harrison Baldwin. Photo courtesy of Jones/Thompson 2017.