The Student Government 2021-2022 executive officers were inaugurated at the Pastides Alumni Center on Thursday evening.
The inauguration was held in-person and included speeches from university President Bob Caslen and Anna Edwards, associate vice president for Student Life.
Caslen commented on the obstacles the former executive officers faced and praised them for their resilience. He then addressed and congratulated the new executive officers.
“We will do great things as leaders, and I look forward to partnering with you over this next year,” Caslen said.
Student Body President Alex Harrell, Student Body Vice President Emily Dengler, Student Body Treasurer Kate Turner and Speaker of the Student Senate Morgiana McDevitt each took their oath of office and gave acceptance speeches.
Students serving in the 113th student senate were also inducted.
In their speeches, the executive officers addressed the struggles students have faced with the pandemic and the social injustices of the past year. Dengler said she sympathized with fellow Gamecocks.
"I think we can all agree that this past year has been one of the hardest for students on this campus. We're all feeling disconnected from each other and from our university. I look forward to working with senators, cabinet members and other organizations on campus to help dissolve that disconnect," Dengler said.
At the conclusion of his acceptance speech, Harrell said he encouraged the Gamecock community to have a sense of renewed hope following a turbulent year.
“Over the past year, we have faced troubling times, no doubt, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And I cannot wait to lead the student body to that light. Together we will create a brighter, more unified and equitable Carolina,” Harrell said.
Edwards concluded the inauguration by giving the new and returning leaders advice for the upcoming year.
“The role of student body officer and member of student senate is not one to take lightly. These roles require that students are focused and prioritize goals based on their plan. It also requires that students work together to achieve common outcomes, at times working through disagreements to find common ground,” Edwards said.
The inauguration lasted approximately one hour. Attendees included speakers, newly elected officers and senators, several former executive officers, campaign personnel and a limited number of family members. The university followed all necessary COVID-19 protocols to ensure that this year’s inauguration could take place in-person following last year’s inauguration on Zoom.
During the campaign period, Harrell ran against Aidan Baker and his running mate, Dengler. However, Dengler and Harrell have used the transition period before their inauguration to create a united front, Dengler said.
“I’ve really gotten to know Alex, really sit down with him, and I do think he’s going to do a great job, so I’m excited to continue to work with him this next year,” Dengler said.
In addition to Harrell and Dengler, the other Student Government members have been working together in preparation for the upcoming school year.
“We’ve already been working together through our transition to see what our overlapping goals have been from campaigning, and what we want to start working on together right once we were inaugurated,” McDevitt said.
As for their first actions in office, Harrell said he hopes to get all students vaccinated.
“We’re so lucky to get a university that will afford that to us. Very soon, we’re getting really close to students being — every student, no matter anything, to get vaccinated, and I think, you know, it’s that light at the end of the tunnel,” Harrell said.