Attending Ohio State provides students with many opportunities and experiences, but not all are able to fully participate. For the first time in four years, however, there is a program aimed at granting the wishes of students who have conditions preventing them from accessing the typical student experience.
Buck-I-Experience helps provide Ohio State students with disabilities, life-threatening or severe medical conditions and students in recovery with experiences they would not normally have, according to the Council of Graduate Students’ website.
The program, which was first created in 2015, made its return to campus this fall after a four-year hiatus through a joint collaboration among Undergraduate Student Government, the Council of Graduate Students and the Inter-Professional Council, DaVonti’ Haynes, a second-year PhD student in agricultural communication, education and leadership and treasurer of the Council of Graduate Students, said.
“The purpose is to grant the wishes of Ohio State students who may not get to attend certain events on the campus such as football games and OUAB concerts and events,” Haynes said. “It’s really providing an opportunity to make sure that we’re reaching all Buckeyes.”
Haynes said the original program was not financially sustainable, and collaborating with other organizations will help with funding. The 2015 program granted the wishes of five participants.
In addition to wishing for university-affiliated experiences, participants can wish for anything within the Central Ohio region not exceeding $500, according to the Council of Graduate Students’ website.
Haynes said some wishes from 2015 included a wheelchair-bound student who wanted to play frisbee with the ultimate frisbee team, as well as a student who wanted to attend Buckeye Country Superfest.
Tyler Caputo, an Ohio State alumnus who was left partially paralyzed after breaking his back, was granted a wish to meet Archie Griffin and said the 2015 program made everything simple.
“They made it super easy. I didn’t have to do anything. It was very easy, very convenient and very fun,” Caputo said. “It was the top experience that I had at Ohio State. It gave me a sense of belonging, and the fact that it happened and that people knew about it was so cool.”
Caputo said he hopes the new program will resemble the experience he had.
“I want it to be similar to the experiences I had,” Caputo said. “I want it to make you feel included. You might have a different struggle than other students, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have the experiences that other students can have.”
Undergraduate, graduate and professional students on the Columbus campus are all eligible to participate in the program, according to the Council of Graduate Students’ website. Students can be referred by medical professionals, family members and Ohio State faculty, staff and students, or refer themselves.
The application deadline for referral is Oct. 20, and Haynes said the recipients will be selected before Thanksgiving break. The number of participants will remain unknown until the application window closes, but Haynes said they have not set any parameters regarding number of participants.
Haynes said the program is working to ensure its future provides such experiences to students.
“We don’t want it to be a one time thing again,” Haynes said.