Meet Anthony Ginger & Christian Sarabia.
Friends. Roommates. Two guys who don’t necessarily agree on everything, and that’s ok.
Anthony Ginger ’19 and Christian Sarabia ’19 are attempting to accomplish something on the Lamoni campus that most people across the country have not been able to fathom. These two students have started a movement to bridge the gap and depolarize the political climate at Graceland.
The two senior history majors came to Graceland as freshmen with very different political viewpoints. Christian, now president of the campus Republicans, was very conservative; and Anthony, now president of the campus Democrats, had chosen to deviate from his own hometown conservative influence and become very liberal.
It was Graceland’s “House” system that brought them together. Christian and Anthony were assigned to Cheville House, where they both chose to become involved in house activities and soon became friends.
“With the unique system of Graceland’s housing kind of throwing us together and helping us form friends on our hall, it helped us become friends with everyone regardless of what different political beliefs we have,” said Anthony.
When the unlikely duo announced they were going to be roommates the following year, it surprised many of their Cheville brothers, but Anthony and Christian had built a friendship on mutual respect and interests.
Those interests have taken them on a whirlwind journey that led them both to become actively involved in the national organization Better Angels, a bipartisan citizen’s movement to reduce political polarization in the United States. The journey began this summer when Assistant Professor of Political Science Adam Martin, PhD, saw Anthony and Christian’s interest in increasing political collaboration and introduced them to the organization.
Excited to learn more, Christian reached out to Better Angels through Facebook and immediately received a response from the lead organizer, David Lapp. Lapp was eager to invite them to attend the first Better Angels convention in Virginia. The problem? It was just two weeks away, and Anthony and Christian didn’t have the resources to go.
The supportive community of Graceland swiftly stepped in. Christian and Anthony reached out to Vice President for Student Life Dave Schaal, who saw their passion and loved the idea. So, Schaal connected them to Campus Minister Mike Hoffman, who pledged $1,000 for Anthony and Christian to make the trip to D.C. and attend the convention.
Few might have thought that within a year – an emotionally charged election year – the two would become friends, even roommates, and be working closely together throughout their senior year on a project with the potential to reach far beyond their Graceland experience.
“People at Graceland absolutely helped us to get it to where it is now,” shared Anthony, as he spoke of the duo’s initiative to use their political leadership positions on campus to bring people together. “Graceland has very much helped foster this.”
“Anthony and Christian had this opportunity to be on the ground floor of helping organize ‘civil discourse’ at Graceland — and beyond,” shared Hoffman. “Missional ministry in general, and campus ministries in particular, is about building community and creating peace. Anthony and Christian will share their experience with students in InSpire (in which students experiment with ministry), and these students will discuss how what they’ve learned can shape our on-campus ministry. We were excited to help send them to the convention and support their goal.”
Once there, the rare story of two political opposites as friends and roommates captured the attention of the Better Angels organization and even several national news outlets. Anthony and Christian were interviewed and featured in the ABC News coverage of the convention and came back to campus somewhat celebrities.
The attention hasn’t wavered quite yet, but their motivation hasn’t changed. Anthony and Christian are still working together to bring what they learned at the Better Angels convention to Graceland’s Lamoni campus. Together, they held a voter registration drive this fall, partnered to provide transportation to the polls on election day, and, at the time this story was written, were in discussions with the founder and president of Better Angels, David Blankenhorn, to come speak to other Graceland students and put on a Better Angels workshop.
“Christian and Anthony are diamonds in the rough,” expressed Graceland Assistant Professor of Political Science Adam Martin, PhD. “Many people say they want to achieve the dream of making a difference in the world; Christian and Anthony already live that dream. The amount of dedication they’ve shown to growing communities and starting conversations at Graceland is fantastic!”
Anthony and Christian agree this is a passion, but they are students first. Christian plans to go into education and is involved in a group of people interested in bringing the Better Angels philosophy to a younger audience. He hopes to turn that idea into a career in which he can implement his experience with Better Angels into a classroom setting.
Both students believe The Power of Together is real at Graceland and that they are examples of it. Now, they have brought that power to the greater campus community and will carry it with them beyond graduation … and they’re just getting started.
GRACELAND’S HOUSE SYSTEM strives to connect people from many backgrounds, geographical areas and interests on the same residence hall.
INSPIRE, a partnership between Graceland and Community of Christ, is a transformative journey that enables students to organically develop as leaders in the church through practical and educational experiences.