As two-term President Taylor Stepp’s administration came to a close, Celia Wright and Leah Lacure took their oaths of office to become Undergraduate Student Government’s first all-female presidential and vice presidential team.
Wright announced her senior staff during the Wednesday event at Drinko Hall, which includes Josh Ahart, who served as vice president this past year, as a senior policy adviser.
Ahart, a fourth-year in public affairs, and runningmate Jen Tripi ran against Wright’s team for president and vice president and came in second with 31.9 percent of the vote, compared to Wright and Lacure’s 40.4 percent of the vote.
Ahart was one of the first speakers of the night and challenged the incoming senators, who were sworn in Wednesday as well, to work tirelessly.
“We’re here to make the experience better for all students,” Ahart said. “Remember, your job is to work hard and not to think about the words ‘thank you.’ Your thanks is when you see your project comes to fruition and you know that it helped undergraduate students at Ohio State.”
Stepp, a fourth-year in public affairs, urged Wright’s administration to broaden the scope of USG and expressed appreciation for its campaign slogan, “Believe in a Better State,” which he said reminded him of the work USG has been able to accomplish with the Ohio General Assembly.
He said bills, like the pending state of Ohio “Good Samaritan” bill, are an effective way for USG to realize change in higher education.
That bill would protect underage drinkers who seek emergency medical assistance for others by ensuring that even if those who call for help were drinking underage, they wouldn’t face prosecution.
USG released a statement in January stating its support for the bill.
“I don’t know of many student governments that have been able to do that, but that’s what this is about now,” he said in an interview with The Lantern. “Celia and Leah have a fantastic platform and I’m glad their focus has expanded to working downtown.”
Stepp expressed pride and wonder at the effect USG has been able to take in state politics, especially with the Good Samaritan bill, which would protect underage drinkers who seek emergency help for others who are in need of medical assistance.
“This is going to save lives all over the state: in Cleveland, in Jackson, in Cincinnati. Man, that’s not a student government, that’s a group of students who are acting in a professional arena. I’m smiling because we’ve gotten here, but we still have a long way to go,” he said.
Wright and Lacure, third-years in public health and public affairs, respectively, were sworn in by outgoing Chief Justice of the Judiciary Panel Tyler Byrum before addressing the audience.
“Together we came up with this idea of what we want student government to be like, and together we were able to come up with really great plans,” Wright said in her speech after she was sworn in. “The humbling experience was when we were having grueling meetings and people were getting up at 7 a.m. to put up tents on the freezing Oval. But they weren’t doing it for us and they never will be. We’re working together for a group idea and I’m so honored to be spearheading that.”
Wright said taking the stage with her parents in attendance was “euphoric.”
“It’s a revival of what we were feeling after the election,” she said in an interview with The Lantern. “We’re honored that our parents were willing to come, and so many students that aren’t involved in USG were willing to come.”
Lacure also said she was excited.
“It’s a little surreal, knowing that enough people put their faith in us that we could be here today and be the ones taking the oath of office,” Lacure said.
Wright’s brother, Austin, who is a first-year in mechanical engineering at OSU, praised his sister in an interview.
“It’s really incredible — she was always the president in high school, and she’s really been someone who I can look up to,” he said.
Wright said she and her team will continue to work during the summer. That work includes finalizing her cabinet and meeting with senior leaders within OSU, she said.
After the ceremony, Stepp described his tenure as USG president as an “excellent experience,” yet “surreal.”
Stepp said he’s proud of his work, which makes leaving easier.
“I’ve been to like 87 senate meetings, I’ve down my fair share of this work. I’m glad I did this. I’m glad we finished strong, which a lot of people didn’t think we’d be able to do, but I’m ready to go,” he said.
Stepp said he hopes Wright will learn to strike a balanced life during her term, saying he struggled to not be a “workaholic” during his tenure.
That advice was echoed by Wright’s mother, Nadine, who came to the ceremony.
“She seems to care about everything, and she’s always been like that,” Nadine Wright said. “She’s always been interested in everything, and it’s almost to a fault because she has a hard time getting involved in everything. I hope she’ll take one thing at a time.”
Logan Hickman contributed to this story.