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Student government inaugurated after six month delay

Max Beal spoke following his inauguration as student body president.

UNK’s student government met in the Miriam Drake Theatre last week to formally inaugurate this year’s student body representatives. The original event, scheduled for April, was initially moved online before an in-person ceremony could be held on campus.

The former speaker of the student senate presided over the event.

“With that oath of office that you’re all going to be taking tonight, you are committing yourself to serving the student body and the constitution and health of this organization to better this campus for the students and for prospective students after you,” said Andrew Burival, speaker of the student senate for the 2019-2020 school year

Following Burival’s opening remarks, Chancellor Douglas Kristensen gave the oath of office to 16 student senators in addition to the president and vice president of the student body, Max Beal and Trey Janicek. Notably, the oath the student regent takes differs from those of the other offices in that the oath is the oath of all Nebraska state office holders. 

Beal has already been serving on the Board of Regents after being confirmed by the Chancellor virtually earlier this year via Zoom.

“This year we know we are in good hands,” Chancellor Kristensen said. “Your colleagues on the board speak highly of you, and they enjoy your company as well as what you add to the board. Quite frankly, you’re all well served by having Max on the Board of Regents.”

Following his swearing-in, Beal took the podium for his first official address as student regent.

“You know, I’ll de-mask as well since we have the 16 feet between us,” Beal said, alluding to the stringent measures within the venue: 5 of every 6 seats inside the Miriam Drake were taped off with bright yellow electrical tape to maintain social distancing. 

The inauguration was originally intended to take place outside Warner Hall, but due to inclement weather, it had to be moved inside. 

“It’s truly an honor to be standing here in front of such distinguished administrators, advisors, faculty and staff members and student leaders,” Beal said. “What makes this even more special is the sheer passion of everyone in this room to serve the university which we have the privilege of calling home. It’s a night of reflection on the past, celebration of the present and anticipation for the vision of the future.”

The student body president thanked his predecessors, then congratulated his constituents on their engagement with the election process.

 “Our students set a record for highest percentage voter turnout in UNK history,” Beal said. “That’s a testament to our campus, to our students and to our culture here.”

“Historically, now I would talk about the many things we hope to accomplish over the next year, yet we’re already halfway through our term and we haven’t made as much progress on our campaign promises as we would have liked,” Beal said. “Still, we’ve been very busy: the pandemic has shifted our attention and resources. Staying mindful that COVID-19 still exists, we can’t let it continue to deter us from our goals.”

Those goals include campaign issues that helped the Beal-Janicek win last spring.

“We set our sights on accessible parking, affordable meal plans, and quality housing,” Beal said. “We’re eager to increase transparency through our communication, just as we’re here to enhance cultural inclusion within our student body. Our periodic email updates go out to all students, made to provide them an understandable record of what we’ve been doing to serve them, and more recently, to update on campus health and safety expectations.”

Beal continued to address the pillars, discussing aims to improve campus through library renovations and beautification projects such as sand-volleyball courts, as well as by “reimagining” campus housing by modernizing residence halls and by providing improved facilities for Greek life among an array of other goals.

“UNK is a phenomenal academic institution, and our campus is a close knit community that we’re fortunate and proud to call home,” Beal said. “But if we don’t push ourselves to constantly be better, we’ll never be able to achieve what we’re truly capable of. We will strive to better our campus for the people that this institution is here to serve.”

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