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Ohio Staters alumni celebrate 75 years

Lauren Hallow / The Lantern

Nearly 200 alumni were in town this weekend to celebrate the 75th birthday of Ohio State’s oldest student service organization, Ohio Staters Inc. Current and former Staters celebrated the group’s achievements throughout the years, which include reviving Block “O,” giving OSU the Browning Amphitheater and providing mental health awareness through “Best Day of Your Life,” at a banquet Saturday night at the Ohio Union.

University President E. Gordon Gee spoke at the banquet to thank the Staters for their service, saying the university is “blessed” to have such a committed organization.

“The thing I like most about Ohio Staters is the fact that as much as we celebrate what we have done, you celebrate what we can do,” Gee said. “You inspire and bring high expectations of what is to come.”

The reunion, which the group started planning in 2007, was part of a weekend-long celebration, including a ceremony Saturday when the organization presented the dedication of two rooms in the Union — the Ohio Staters Inc. Traditions Room and the Ohio Staters Inc. Founders Room — as a gift to the university, in honor of its anniversary.

The weekend’s highlight, though, was the banquet. Staters and their guests dined on dishes such as Chilean sea bass and Tandoori chicken while they discussed the group’s effect on their lives.

“The students are very, very impressive,” said Kama Brockmann, former Ohio Staters Inc. president from 1984, who helped organize the banquet. “They’ve really maintained and expanded all the great traditions of the organization.”

The ceremony recognized the group’s first female president, Maureen Malone Dargusch, who was elected in 1973. The organization was founded in 1933 by nine men as a group for men. The group also recognized the oldest living member, Brud Cleaveland, who graduated from OSU in 1940.

Many alumni members said Ohio Staters prepared them for job interviews, presentations and collaboration with other professionals.

“I’m a lawyer lobbyist for Microsoft now, and what I do every day, the foundations and the skills, I learned in Staters,” said Stephanie Peters, a member from 1984 to 1986.

The Ohio Staters, whose motto is “Thinkers, Believers, and Doers in and about” OSU, help organize service projects, though they have changed their role over time.

“Early on, we kind of operated as a travel agency for a while, organizing spring break trips to Hawaii and the Bahamas and stuff like that, trips to the Rose Bowl … making them affordable for students,” said Hans Voss, the current Staters president and fourth-year in political science. The group stopped doing that in the ‘60s or ‘70s when the Union began offering those services, he said.

Before the university launched the Ohio Union Activities Board, Voss said it was the Staters who brought free concerts and entertainers to campus, including Simon and Garfunkel and Louis Armstrong. The organization was also responsible for starting the University Museum in University Hall and planting Buckeye Grove.

Past members said their next goal is to create a scholarship fund for those in the group.

“We certainly wanted to get funding the reunion done first, but scholarship is incredibly high on our list of things we want to do next,” said Susan Gibson Snowden, who created the Ohio Staters Alumni Society in 2002.

Although Voss and other banquet organizers would not disclose the cost of the banquet, they did say it was paid for by fees from attendees. Current Staters attended the banquet for free, but guests paid $65 and alumni paid $75. Those who graduated in the last two years received a $35 discount.

Now that the banquet is over, what will Staters work on next?

“Planning the 100th” reunion, Voss said. 

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