When Cin’Quan Haney, a fourth-year in physics, and Curtis Henry, a fourth-year in sports industry, ran as write-in candidates for president and vice president of Ohio State’s Undergraduate Student Government last year, they were trying to help students’ voices be heard. Although they lost, they are still finding a way to accomplish that goal.
Their campaign, “Write In Haney Henry,” focused on increasing diversity within USG in an effort to serve more of the campus community. After their loss, Haney and Henry, along with Jack Brandl, a second-year in public affairs and economics, launched a new organization to support student activism, called the United Project.
“We’ve created this organization so that it can be a support system for student activists on campus, because student activism can be burdensome in so many ways,” Brandl said. “It’s taxing financially, emotionally — it’s physically exhausting.”
Since student activists are also students, and might also be doing research or working, Brandl said, the United Project exists to support students and their movements financially, with social media and organization.
“That way, (student activists) don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel,” Brandl said.
Yerdanos Asmelash, a fourth-year in biology and assistant director of the United Project, is currently organizing a project on the issue of sexual assault awareness.
“Where United Project will come into play is rallying my troops and providing me with funding and resources if I need it,” Asmelash said.
The United Project is also trying to bring in partner clubs to work with. Brandl said the United Project is looking to be “demographically diverse,” meaning it is searching for diversity not just in race or ethnicity, but also in “values and ideals.”
“We’ve already reached out to the Muslim Student Association, the Black Student Association, Allies for Diversity … to get a representative from those (organizations) to serve with us, so that they can have their opinions heard, and also to cross-collaborate,” Brandl said.
Issues highlighted by the United Project so far include sexual assault, mental health, racism and safety on and off campus.
Although the United Project was born out of a USG campaign, it will not be operated under USG, though Brandl said it can be seen as an ally to USG.
“Part of the reason we formed this was to be a companion to USG, because they are sometimes constrained by a lot of different rules and they focus more on resolutions, where we are really action-oriented,” Brandl said.”We’d definitely love to collaborate with USG, but we know that sometimes things just need to be put in the students’ hands.”
The United Project is also working to incorporate athletics as much as possible.
“One thing we want to do with (Haney and I) being members of the football team is to get athletics involved, because we feel that athletics here at Ohio State has a lot of power in what happens on campus, and they have a big voice that will be easily heard by the students and faculty,” Henry said.