Last week, BJU’s South Carolina Student Legislature sent nine students to present their bills during a three-day mock legislature held at the S.C. State House in Columbia.
Delegation members included Tori Sanders, Rebekah Anderson, Carter Henderson, Nathan Swaim, Bradley Shepard, Joey Kauffman, Josh Casillas, Michael Pettit and Judah Smith.
Savvy Seiber, another delegate for the University, was unable to attend this semester’s session.
BJU’s medium-sized delegation performed very well, and several of the delegates’ bills passed both the House and the Senate.
Particularly notable is the controversial bill that was presented by Tori Sanders, a senior journalism and mass communication major.
Her bill prohibited abortions which are performed after a fetal heartbeat is detectable during a pregnancy.
To the surprise of the delegation, Sanders’ bill passed the House after much debate. Later, it failed in the Senate.
Sanders is pleased with the performance of the bill, however, and she views her attempt as a success since she was able to get several of the delegates from other universities thinking about abortion and approaching the subject in a very new way.
One delegate from another university told members of the BJU delegation that, prior to Sanders’ bill, she’d been okay with abortions.
But after considering the argument from the perspective of a separate heartbeat, she changed her mind and now thinks abortions are completely unethical.
“It was such an encouragement to me to see Sanders’ bill pass in the House—in the midst of some difficult debate,” said Randy Page, BJU’s SCLC adviser and chief of staff at the university. “Our entire delegation worked well together, advanced key legislation and was recognized by their peers for their leadership.”
Bradley Shepard, a senior business administration student, led the entire student legislature as governor during this semester’s session.
Shepard said the leadership experience has strengthened his faith and has increased his ability to relate with peers.
“As governor, I have enjoyed leading a diverse organization that is fully committed to engaging students in the legislative process,” he said. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity.”
On the last day of session, Shepard was given the Carlisle Award—the highest award of SCSL, which is given annually in honor of the organization’s founder, Dr. Douglas Carlisle.
According to the SCSL constitution, “The Carlisle Award is awarded to the delegate or officer who, in the opinion of the Awards Committee, best represents the ideals of the South Carolina Student Legislature.”
Shepard said he is pleased to have received the honor.
“In my time with SCSL, I have tried to encourage open, passionate debate about the hard issues and I’m grateful to be recognized with the Carlisle Award,” he said. “It is my hope and prayer that future leaders in SCSL continue to foster an environment where students can engage in meaningful conversations about important issues.”
The BJU delegation also secured some leadership positions for the spring and fall SCSL sessions of 2019.
Josh Casillas, a senior business administration major, was elected speaker of the house, and Nathan Swaim, a sophomore accounting major, was appointed to the office of treasurer.
Eight other universities attended this year’s fall session: University of South Carolina, Clemson, The Citadel, Francis Marion, College of Charleston, Erskine College, Coastal Carolina and Charleston Southern.