Andrew Bruening / For The Lantern
It’s yet to be seen if the Undergraduate Student Government president will be re-elected by the end of the week, but Ohio State will inevitably have a new vice president.
Josh Ahart, a third-year in public affairs, is the lone vice presidential candidate on the 2013 ballot on a ticket with USG president and third-year in public affairs, Taylor Stepp.
An unopposed USG presidential election has not happened in about 50 years at OSU, and this could be the first time in 10 years for a repeat president.
Ahart applied to be a USG intern but didn’t get the position, then became part of the membership committee and was elected as the Fisher College of Business senator seat later in his freshman year. He now serves as off-campus senator and the budget and finance committee chair for USG.
“I ran for Fisher, because I was a business major then, and that is a very hard spot to win,” Ahart said. “I just chalked everywhere, talked to all of my friends, did the typical thing with the ‘Nick and Emily’ campaign.”
Nick Messenger, a fourth-year in political science, and Emily DeDonato, a fourth-year in biology, served as USG president and vice president respectively in 2011-2012.
Ahart and his running mate, Stepp, met during their freshman year at a USG dinner where they bonded over being from southern Ohio. Ahart is from Belpre, about two hours southeast of Columbus, and Stepp is from Jackson, which is about an hour and a half southeast of Columbus.
Ahart’s work ethic and dedication to USG is why Stepp chose him as a running mate.
“I knew (Ahart) could organize people, and he’s a charismatic guy who knows a lot about the organization,” Stepp said. “I think it’s really important to have someone who’s not only a leader but also who’s well-liked and has a very keen sense of the (finances) of USG, how the organization operates. And Josh has a vision, too.”
Current USG vice president, Kevin Arndt, a fourth-year in political science and public affairs, agreed about why Ahart was chosen to fill his shoes.
“He demonstrated an ability as a likely choice to fill the role,” he said. “I’m assuming it was not a very hard decision for Taylor to make.”
Running unopposed was not something the running mates were expecting, but Ahart said the fact that no other candidates are officially on the ballot means USG and the rest of the OSU student body trust the ability of current USG leadership.
“I think that other people are talking about apathy and people are not engaged in USG – I don’t think that’s it at all,” Ahart said. “I think that people in the organization are unified around Taylor and I, and I think that they understand that we know what is best for the organization, otherwise they wouldn’t have all supported us. I think for people to say that it’s apathy, I think that’s ridiculous.”
Courtney Kasuboski, director of academic affairs for USG and fourth-year in industrial and systems engineering, said Stepp and Ahart are both qualified and experienced members of USG, but that running unopposed might not be the best situation.
“I think it is tough because it’s hard to run unopposed and then argue that you won the election,” she said.
While Stepp and Ahart are the only registered candidates for president and vice president, there are students running write-in campaigns. Jacob Coate, a second-year in political science, and James Prather, a second-year in finance, are running as president and vice president, respectively.
Arndt hopes to see Stepp and Ahart continue to represent and reach out to every student on OSU’s campus, not just the “involved kids.”
Ahart said he wants to continue Stepp and Arndt’s legacy, but also has several new ideas, including a push for digital textbooks and an expansion of Buckeye Roadtrip – a free program that provides busing to students to cities around Ohio on select weekends.
“We’ve really pushed this year to make sure that we get out there, and we tell everyone what we’re doing,” Ahart said. “And we’re doing, as our slogan says, ‘big things.'”
Voting for USG begins Wednesday at noon and ends Friday at 11:59 p.m.