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Merchant-Semmler administration make strides over the summer

USG President Shamina Merchant and Vice President Shawn Semmler said they will continue to focus on the major issues they addressed during their campaign while they continue to incorporate the student voice into USG decisions. Credit: Courtesy of USG

Undergraduate Student Government President Shamina Merchant and Vice President Shawn Semmler have made substantial progress on several campaign promises since taking office in April.

During their campaign, Merchant and Semmler’s platform consisted of issues regarding mental and physical wellness, inclusivity, sustainability and affordability.

“We want to make sure that every Buckeye has the best possible experience, and those are some of the issues we want to focus on,” Merchant said in a July interview with The Lantern.

Their progress includes passing two affordability proposals, bringing Lime bikes and scooters to campus, expanding the tampon accessibility program, bringing new fitness equipment to the recreation facilities and allowing students to self-identify ethnicity and origin on the Special Scholarship Application.

Additionally, affordability proposals were made to the University Senate Fiscal Committee to eliminate 70 percent of course fees and to remove additional fees for seniors who want to take 21 credit hours. Both proposals passed at the end of the Spring semester.

Merchant said, pending Board of Trustees approval, the proposals could save over $1.2 million.

Semmler said the Board will be voting on the two proposals in this month’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Merchant also served as one of the four student members of President Michael Drake’s Mental Health Task Force.

“We’ve been able to bring student voice into the core of the Mental Health Task Force and the discussion on next steps for survivor resources on campus,” Semmler said. “It is especially important that as we make progress on these issues that we do so as one campus community.”

A pilot program, spearheaded by former student body vice president Sophie Chang, began in January to increase access to free feminine hygiene products across campus, including 20 tampon dispensers split between the Union and the RPAC.

Semmler said USG expanded the program to install dispensers at the Younkin Success Center and Traditions Dining locations later this semester and all recreation centers on campus. For Spring semester, they plan to expand to all dining and library locations plus targeting a few high-traffic academic buildings.

Semmler said one of the main points that USG will focus on now is to increase voter registration on Ohio State’s campus by collaborating with OSU Vote — a student-led movement to register, educate and encourage other students to vote.

Merchant and Semmler said they will continue to focus on the major issues they addressed during their campaign while they continue to incorporate the student voice into USG decisions.

“Our end mission has been to challenge USG to continue to better incorporate student organizations, communities and individuals into the policy discussion,” Semmler said.

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