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Taylor Stepp, Kevin Arndt win historic USG election

Amanda Pierce / Lantern photographer

Taylor Stepp and Kevin Arndt are Ohio State’s new president and vice president of Undergraduate Student Government.

Stepp, a second-year in Russian and public affairs, and Arndt, a third-year in political science and public affairs, received 32.6 percent of the vote in the 2012 USG election that took place Thursday and Friday, according to election data.

Coming in second were the duo of Kyle Strickland and Nick Parker, who received 21.9 percent of the vote.

The 2012 USG election had the highest voter turnout since 1975, when 8,770 votes cast. This year, 8,653 votes were cast, according to election data.

Running on the “Buckeye State of Mind” platform, Stepp and Arndt said they want to bring USG back to the students.

“We want to make this as inclusive of a USG as possible,” Stepp said.

Although Stepp and Arndt will not technically become USG president and vice president until after a five-week transitional period ends on April 29, Stepp said their duties begin right away.

“I’ve already gotten emails, text messages and calls from administrators,” Stepp said.

They chose their senior staff Sunday, and Monday will begin the process of establishing a cabinet.

The cabinet is open to any OSU student who applies.

Current USG President Nick Messenger said the dynamic of the election was different this year because there were four teams in the election.

“It was interesting to see four teams competing, it created more uncertainty,” Messenger said. “Nobody really felt certain about how it was going to turnout.”

In last year’s election, Messenger and his running mate, Emily DeDonato, campaigned against only two other teams.

Messenger said even though Stepp and Arndt won, he congratulated all of the candidates on successful campaigns.

“I encouraged all of them to stay involved in USG,” Messenger said. “My belief is that we are an organization that has a place for everybody. Everybody that wants to work to make the university a better place.”

Messenger said the losing candidates are among the most qualified students to fill leadership positions at USG, and Stepp should not be afraid to appoint them to different positions.

Stepp said the first two things that he and Arndt want to accomplish are a five-step safety plan and a semester conversion appeals court.

The five-step plan includes preparations to increase funding for Student Safety Services, a gradual growth to the Student Safety Service budget, a push for a mutual-aid agreement between the Columbus Division of Police and OSU Police, the creation of a “Safe-Walk program” and an increase in safety education.

The semester conversion appeals court would be a group of students, faculty and/or administrators that they would appoint to rule on instances where “the university fails to meet its pledges to students,” Stepp said.

Messenger said he understands that some students react negatively toward USG this time of year.

“But the fact that we still had a record turnout shows we are still a very relevant part of this university,” Messenger said.

Messenger said this year’s election was not without its share of issues. Responding specifically to the issue involving two of the candidates and an anonymous email sent, Messenger said he was proud that the candidates resolved the issue.

“We see bad press every time campaign season comes around,” Messenger said. “I am proud that all four of them set that aside, none of them filed a judicial panel.”

Messenger said this is the beginning of a transition stage from his presidency to Stepp’s. He said he is meeting with Stepp Monday to give him an overview of what Stepp’s job will entail.

Arndt, a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, said he and Stepp are also looking to promote Greek life.

“Greek life is a huge concern of mine and I’m very passionate about it,” Arndt said. “I want to make Greek life expand and I think that being USG vice president will offer a great avenue to advocate for that.”

Stepp said he is glad that the campaign process is over, and said he can shift his focus to helping students as USG president.

“I’m excited to get to work right away and get things done for OSU students,” Stepp said.

Thomas Bradley contributed to this story. 

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