Undergraduate Student Government’s General Assembly passed three resolutions Wednesday regarding Title IX changes, school security and affordability.
USG said the resolutions expressed concerns regarding Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s proposed changes to Title IX policy, supported the use and installation and use of P.A. systems in emergency situations, and supported the creation of a lending library program.
Title IX concerns
After the Department of Education released a set of new guidelines regarding the reporting of sexual assault and harassment on campuses in November, the public was given until Jan. 28 to submit comments, and the resolution seeks to have the voices of the undergraduate student body included in the discussion.
The resolution, titled “A Resolution to Unify and Support the University’s Numerous Concerns About the Department of Education’s Proposed Changes to Title IX,” listed worries such as raising the burden of proof from 51 percent to 75 percent positive the misconduct occurred and guaranteeing the right of the accused to cross-examine the accuser.
USG Senator Will Sullivan spoke on the personal importance of this legislation.
“When I was a freshman, and I brought my sexual assault case forward, one of my biggest fears was ever having to look the man who did what he did to me in the face again,” Sullivan said. “Cross-examination will drastically decrease survivors from coming forward.”
Senator Elena Akers, who also sponsored the resolution, said Ohio State has the type of influence to bring about Title IX changes.
“As one of the largest academic institutions in the U.S., Ohio State is in a really good place to make a purposeful comment that is united and portrays appropriate concerns with the content of the new regulations,” Akers said.
USG President Shamina Merchant said the passing of the resolution will act as support for a possible future statement.
“Having a General Assembly resolution and potentially a statement from [Semmler] and I supporting this sent directly to students as well, I think is a really strong way to show students that we stand by that responsibility,” Merchant said.
The Ohio State Department of Public Safety has been working to install fire alarms with communicative abilities to alert students, faculty and staff of emergency situations, Senator Alexis McKenzie, sponsor of the resolution, said.
USG’s resolution supported this system and pushed to implement it in all residence halls and buildings across Ohio State’s campuses.
“Not every student has a smartphone, or will not be in front of a computer when incidents happen, so I think the P.A. system is a good solution,” Senator Savannah Sockwell, a co-sponsor of the resolution, said.
The P.A. system aims to put students on the same level of knowledge during emergencies to eliminate panic, Sullivan said.
Lending Library Program
In line with the administration’s goal of affordability, the General Assembly passed a resolution to support the creation of a lending library program, in which students will be able to rent technology or resources for a semester free of charge.
The lending library is a resource for students who might need materials for a class that they will only use for one semester, such as a lab coat or an art palette. Students will also be able to donate materials they no longer use.
“This would just be one way — and a very effective way — to alleviate a lot of the costs that students experience,” Senator Sarah Olszewski, co-sponsor of the resolution, said.
The program would not include textbooks, but would lend materials and technology free of charge on a semesterly basis, according to Senator Ben Duvwe, sponsor of the resolution.