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The Antelope

The Antelope

Student government tackles campus issues amid pandemic

The student government’s cabinet, which includes Adrian Gomez, Olivia Slater, Max Beal, Trey Janicek, Ashly Helfrich and Kosuke Yoshii, is set to be confirmed by the student senate in coming weeks.

The student government convened in the Nebraska Student Union for new senator orientation and committee meetings. The meeting, held just ahead of the Student Organization Fair, signaled a slight return to normalcy for student life.

But new restrictions are testing the student government’s ability to operate as they did in the past.

“Everyone’s socially distanced in that room,” said Max Beal, UNK Student Regent. “We’re subjected to the same rules and regulations as all other student organizations are on campus. But we’re trying to keep stuff in person so long as people are comfortable with that.”

Measures to keep meetings in-person include seating two people to a table and reorganizing how the student government’s leaders are seated. In a normal year, the speaker, parliamentarian and secretary of the student senate would sit at the front table with regent and vice regent. This year, the heads of the legislative and executive branches are separated to maintain social distancing.

Social distancing may yet cause more problems: because of room capacity limits, meetings have little room for students to observe in person.

“It’s just slightly large enough so that we can have our entire executive and legislative branches and our advisors and add a few more people,” Beal said. “[Students] could come in person, although we do have capacity requirements on our room so they’d probably have to get there a little earlier.”

If students don’t arrive before capacity is full, there is still another option to view student government meetings: online through Zoom.

As of the time of writing, the link to access the student government’s Zoom meetings has not been publicly posted on the Student Government’s page on the university’s website. To access it, students would have to receive it in an email from Adam Schultis, the speaker of the student senate. 

And since most student governments are still opting to show up to in-person meetings, the Zoom option is not yet fully developed. Students who tuned into the Sept. 1 meeting would be greeted by the limited view from the speaker’s laptop- and a 50 minute long absence of any sound due to an accidental mute.

There may yet be hope for a virtual option as the semester continues and the need grows– but for now students can still keep themselves informed through other channels. 

“Our executive team in our monthly updates tends to talk about our work in student government and the work of our branches,” Beal said. “Reading those monthly updates is also a good way to stay informed on what we’re doing and what’s going on on campus.”

The student body vice president proposed a more convenient approach: social media.

“I would have to add in another way to stay informed would be following our social media pages,” said Trey Janicek, student body vice president. “We have quite a few, and they’re updated regularly with what’s going on on campus. I think if students follow that page they can get some useful information on the student government.”

As the student government gets back into normal proceedings with the official in-person inauguration of the student body president and vice president and the confirmation of their cabinet, these sources could be incredibly valuable going forward.

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