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USG candidates talk campus security, tuition, transparency

Molly Grey / Managing editor for design

It’s almost time to decide who to vote for in Ohio State’s Undergraduate Student Government elections. On Sunday, the presidential and vice presidential candidates visited The Lantern newsroom to discuss their campaign platforms. Voting takes place Thursday and Friday.

Jake and Melissa

USG presidential candidate Jacob Foskuhl, a third-year in public affairs and Russian, and vice presidential candidate Melissa Kellams, a second-year in public affairs, chose the campaign slogan, “Make it happen.”

A pinwheel logo accompanies their slogan, which Foskuhl said represents movement.

“We want to make sure that we are focusing on what we can do with what we have,” Foskuhl said. “We want to make sure we’re doing more with less, that we are focusing on being very practical.”

Campus safety

If able to accomplish one platform, Foskuhl and Kellams want to create a policy to ensure students feel safe on campus.

“The biggest thing would be a sexual violence policy on campus,” Foskuhl said. “I think they’re all great initiatives. They’re all things we want to work on, but ultimately student safety is a priority.”

Foskhul and Kellams said they want to work with university administration to implement an effective and fair sexual violence policy and see that it is enforced.

“If you’re a student who doesn’t feel safe, it could deter you from coming to class,” Kellams said.

Semester switch

Foskhul said a key aspect of helping students in the transition of a quarter-to-semester switch is coordination.

“It’s going to take a grassroots approach to really talk to students,” Foskhul said. “You can do a lot with marketing and flyers, but if you are not out there talking to people, you are missing a segment who could possibly get left behind.”

A way to meet with students one-on-one and speak to them on a personal level about campus topics is through having “fireside chats,” Kellams said.

“We’re going to invite students that really don’t know a whole lot about what USG is,” Kellams said.

If elected, Foskhul and Kellams said in addition to “fireside chats,” they want to create a student internship program in the advising offices that would assist advisers with informing students about the quarter-to-semester switch.

“I think there’s a lot of really talented students that could really benefit from the experience of working in an advising office and it could help us pick up the slack for the transition,” Foskhul said.

The Oval

Foskhul and Kellams said keeping the Oval clean for students is important and trash cans, recycle bins and animal waste dispensers could help keep the lawns clear.

The items would be placed on lampposts on the Oval. The candidates said USG could fund the initial purchase of the bags.

“The funding would come from USG and working to make sure the university keeps the room in its budget for the upkeep,” Foskhul said.

Having these bags would help OSU’s Facilities Operations and Development with picking up litter each day, Kellams said.

For more information on Foskhul and Kellam’s platform, visit makeithappenosu.com.

Kevin and Andrea

USG presidential candidate Kevin Flynn, a fourth-year in biochemistry and international studies, and vice presidential candidate Andrea Blinkhorn, a third-year in international studies and political science, chose the campaign slogan, “Your vision. Your voice. Your university.”

The candidates said they chose this slogan because they feel USG representatives have a responsibility to represent the students.

“We’re running for USG because we feel really strongly about Ohio State and the student organizations,” Blinkhorn said. “We want to see it grow; we want to see it become better.”

Inclusiveness

If only able to accomplish one goal, Flynn and Blinkhorn would want to make sure they communicate with the student body.

“We recognize that there is a problem with students not knowing what USG is, let alone what it stands for,” Flynn said.

The website needs to be updated and emails could be sent out to inform students on USG activity. Regardless of whether students care or not about the organization they would be aware of it, Flynn said.

“It’s important for a university of this size to have a strong website,” Blinkhorn said. “I think it’s important to reach out to students online because students spend so much time on it.”

Transparency

The candidates want to increase communication with OSU’s student organizations, as well as individual students. Flynn and Blinkhorn said a way to get students to be more involved in USG is through making the organization’s budget and allocation transparent to students.

“Every student pays a student activity fee each quarter and for the most part doesn’t know where it goes,” Flynn said. “A lot of it goes to USG and (students) deserve to know how it’s spent.”

Blinkhorn said putting resources on the USG website like including a tab for the budget and funding can allow student organization leaders to easily access important information.

“We could put (the resources) in one, concise place because people don’t normally know where to go,” Blinkhorn said. “Then they can go and see what’s available to them.”

USG meeting minutes are public records, but Flynn said they are difficult to obtain.

“You have to request them and you have to know who to request them from,” he said.

Flynn said if they could update the website every day with the meeting minutes, budget and legislation, everything could be accessed very easily.

Campus safety

Flynn and Blinkhorn want to increase campus safety by providing free safety items to students, including rape whistles and pepper spray.

“We’d encourage everybody to not walk alone, but if students have to, there is a little extra level of safety in having one of those devices,” Flynn said.

In addition, the candidates said they would like to meet with Off-Campus Student Services to discuss how to improve safety off-campus.

Flynn said he would like to look into the gang violence in surrounding off-campus areas.

For more information on Flynn and Blinkhorn’s full platform, visit kevinandrea.com.

Nick and Emily

USG presidential candidate Nick Messenger, a second-year in economics and political science, and vice presidential candidate Emily DeDonato, a second-year in biology, chose the campaign slogan “Together students can.”

“When you bring students together, when you reach out to different organizations and communities across campus, when you ask people what they think and honestly listen, you can create a lot of solutions that make sense,” Messenger said.

DeDonato said the campaign logo, which has the theme of the TV channel Nickelodeon, is a symbol that this generation of undergraduates can respond to.

Affordability

If only able to accomplish one goal, Messenger and DeDonato would want to assist students with finding ways to make undergraduate tuition more affordable.

Messenger and DeDonato want to use a book-swap program that could save students money. It would have students buying and selling textbooks directly with each other and could save a student $80 per quarter.

Messenger said this estimate was determined through putting Ohio State’s numbers of student population, average price of a book and an estimate that 4 percent of students would participate, into the results from other Big 10 universities, Wisconsin and Michigan State, who use similar book swap programs.

“We want to make (sure that) … exchanging textbooks is something that’s available to students via a website,” DeDonato said. “It already happens around us, but you just don’t have that large of a group of students to pull books from.”

Messenger said swapping books online would be easier for students than going to a bookstore.

Semester
switch

A key aspect of helping students with the quarter-to-semester switch is through information, Messenger said.

The candidates want to create a website, “MySwitch,” that would allow students to enter their year and major and find out what classes they need to graduate on time.

“Students are going to be encouraged in the next year to meet with their advisers,” Messenger said. “But the problem with that is when 50,000 students are trying to schedule appointments with their adviser around the same time.”

The “MySwitch” website would be interactive and could help students with simple questions that will arise about the quarter-to-semester switch, Messenger said.

USG would develop the website which will be a tool for students to check up on their curriculum and continue on the same graduation plan, DeDonato said.

“We’re very passionate about having students find out how to graduate on time,” she said.

In addition to the “MySwitch” website, Messenger and DeDonato said they want to speak with students to learn more about their concerns on the semester switch.

Inclusiveness

Messenger and DeDonato said speaking with student organizations would allow the university to build a stronger community.

“We want to continue reaching out and talking with representatives from the 1,000-plus student organizations on campus and making sure they’re making decisions with us,” Messenger said.

Ohio State’s biggest resource is its diversity, Messenger said.

The candidates said they want to actively communicate with all student organizations to improve student voice in USG activity.

For more information on Messenger and DeDonato’s platform, visit votenickandemily.com.

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