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Letter to the editor: Don’t vote in the USG elections unless divest issue restored to ballot

Letter to the editor:

I doubt that many of you need much encouragement against voting in the Undergraduate Student Government elections. Our most recent USG president was elected with 3,953 votes out of a population of more than 44,000 undergraduates. In other words, our supposed representatives are often supported by less than one out of 10 students here.

Why don’t students vote in the USG elections? Well, most students at this school aren’t really clear on what the USG does, if anything. To be fair, this stems from an overbearing and bloated administration that refuses to entrust students with substantial powers and responsibilities around campus, leaving the USG pondering such tangential matters as how to keep the Mirror Lake jump safe and sustainable.

Lacking substantial powers or responsibilities, the very least we should hope for from our student government is that it works to ensure that students’ voices are heard and respected, and that students always have a platform for open and honest debate. Unfortunately, the recent actions of the USG Judicial Panel have shown that these are simply not priorities for USG.

On Sunday, mere hours before voting was slated to begin, the Judicial Panel removed Issue 1 from the ballot in a highly undemocratic decision that relied upon an uneven and dishonest interpretation and application of rules, and involved a major conflict of interest. More than 3,000 students (nearly enough to win a USG presidential election!) petitioned to have Issue 1 placed on the ballot, and their faith in a democratic process has been violated by USG.

Excluding and marginalizing the voices of those we disagree with should be the furthest thing from the objectives of USG, yet in the lead-up to this election, the USG Judicial Panel has done exactly that. Further, it is imperative that any student government works to provide a space for students to protest the actions of the administration; instead, this Judicial Panel has actively worked to silence student voices. We need student government that celebrates and protects the diversity of opinions in our vast student body, and by doing the opposite, USG has betrayed the trust of the Buckeye community.

In this context, I cannot possibly cast a vote in the USG elections this year. Regardless of my feelings about Issue 1 or the number of devoted candidates on the ballot, I will not pretend this election is a legitimate expression of undergraduate students’ voices when I know more than 3,000 of them have been silenced. I urge all undergraduates to not vote in the USG elections unless Issue 1 is restored to the ballot and the USG conducts significant reforms to ensure that it is always working to protect, rather than diminish, the diversity of voices that helps make the Buckeye community so great.

Zack Paganini

Fourth-year in geography



  1. The appearance of ethnic cleansing at OSU:
    1. Palestinians removed from ballot,
    2. Divestment removed from ballot, even after approval of petitions.

    March 11th article: http://socialistworker.org/…/11/divestment-stymied-at-osu

    What an ugly shame for the university.

    Solidarity rally outside the Ohio Union, on OSU’s campus, today, Wednesday, March 11 at 12:30 p.m.

  2. I never understood why anyone took any interest in USG. It never impacted my life or that of my friends. I also don’t understand why students who are only on campus a short time should have any say whatsoever in how the University invests for the long term.

  3. Maybe they should learn how to fill out forms properly before dealing with a geopolitical issue.

  4. @Anonymous, maybe you should learn how to fill out the “Name” section properly before posting your opinion.

  5. Divest’s form filling ability is irrelevant to this. Over three thousand students wanted to see this on the ballot. The Judiciary Panel decided to use their harshest punishment available (one that SLANDER doesn’t even qualify for – the maximum punishment for slander is a fine) to disqualify something that thousands of students wanted to see.

    Furthermore, the Judiciary Panel first let other candidates go on without the circulator names (before disqualifying the ones Divest pointed out didn’t have circulator names!) and actually approved Divest’s petition sheet that did not include a spot for the circulator names. Perhaps the Judiciary Panel should learn to do their job before giving a maximum punishment for a small clerical error that one of the Judiciary Panel members has even admitted is “trivial.”

  6. From my reading, the rule that you must “put the names of the petition distributers” applies to candidates, but does not explicitly say so for petitions. In any event, disqualifying a petition based on this technicality was an abuse of power.

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