University Health Center

A University of Nebraska-Lincoln student walks into the University Health Center on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012.

KRISTIN STREFF/Journal Star file photo

With the highest voter turnout ever recorded, students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln overwhelmingly expressed support for a proposal to hire a private healthcare company to build and operate a new University Health Center.

The students showed their support for Chancellor Harvey Perlman’s plan to hire Bryan Health to take over the health center through a survey question that was posed on the ballot for student body president. About 62 percent of students surveyed said they supported the plan, while 38 percent opposed it.

The student vote won't directly impact the health center proposal, though University of Nebraska regents may take their opinions into account when they vote on the proposal March 15, Perlman has said.

More than 5,100 students voted in the student election, the highest turnout recorded since the university began tracking turnout in 1981, said LJ McElravy, electoral commission director for the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska.

Student support for the next student president wasn’t as conclusive, and the ASUN ordered a runoff election to take place Tuesday between the top two vote-getting parties. Those parties, Revive and Engage, earned 35 and 34 percent, respectively, of the student vote Wednesday. The third party, Sense, earned 28 percent.

Each of those parties fielded three candidates for the top three executive positions within ASUN.

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McElravy said health center staff have questioned the wording of the student survey question related to the health center proposal. That question assumed the university needed to build a new health center and that the proposal to hire Bryan Health would require a significantly smaller increase in student fees to pay for that new building than would be needed if the university built the new health center itself.

“To me, it seems like the lesser of two evils,” McElravy said.

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