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Inauguration ceremony inducts newest Student Government leaders

Newly elected student senators and executive officers took their oaths of office in Rutledge Chapel on Wednesday afternoon. 

Third-year mechanical engineering student Jacob Vaught, who previously served as a senator on the 115th student senate, was sworn in as the new student body treasurer.

During his inauguration speech, Vaught said he could empathize with students on all different levels, drawing from his own experiences working multiple jobs to support himself through college and facing challenges such as housing and food insecurity.

"My promise being to represent our entire student body to the best of my ability, and it's my firm commitment that all voices will be heard and valued, not just the loudest ones," Vaught said.

He also presented his plan to support student organizations by allocating resources from the campus activity fund, streamlining funding processes and collaborating with the senate to update Student Government codes.

Second-year nursing student Maura Hamilton, who previously served as a chairwoman of the judiciary committee for the 115th senate, was sworn in as the next speaker of the student senate.

Hamilton said she has gained a wide perspective of the student experience from being involved in Greek Life, working in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and being a nursing student in the Honors College.

She said she wants to enhance organizational outreach efforts and connect with students in their own environments rather than expecting them to seek her out.

"For any student who is listening now, please know that I am genuinely here to serve you," Hamilton said.

Second-year public health and political science student Courtney Tkacs, who previously served as the chief of staff to former Speaker of the student senate Cameron Eubanks, was sworn in as the next student body vice president.

Tkacs said she will aim to elevate Թϱ's first-year experience to a top-ranking four-year experience throughout her term.

"Our top three concerns that we decided that we needed to work on are infrastructure, safety and the student experience. My primary goal amongst these is to increase transparency and communication with the student body," Tkacs said.

Third-year political science student Patton Byars, who spent the past two years as the chief of staff to two consecutive student body presidents, was inaugurated as the next student body president.

Byars said that, with regard to students' concerns regarding Wi-Fi, safety and the availability of on-campus housing for upperclassmen, there is a need for further enhancements to improve the overall student experience. He said these concerns are not a surprise to him because he experienced some of the same issues himself.

"Just last semester, I lost Wi-Fi when I was taking two exams and a quiz while I was physically inside of Russell House," Byars said. "You simply cannot be a successful student without consistent and reliable Wi-Fi."

Chief Justice of the Constitutional Council Joseph Buchmaier administered the oath of office to the 116th student senate and all elected officials, officially swearing them into their respective roles. 

USC President Michael Amiridis gave the closing remarks at the inauguration. He said he has high hopes for the next group of students leaders.

"Today's a transition point. A new group of student leaders has been elected by their peers and entrusted with an important task — to serve as the voice of our large and diverse student body," Amiridis said. "We cannot be sure of what opportunities and challenges lie ahead during the next year, but I'm confident that your leadership, your energy and insights will help us carry this university to its next great achievements."

The 116th student senate will have its first senate meeting next Wednesday in the Russell House Theater at 5:30 p.m. All students are welcome to observe these meetings.


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