As the semester comes to an end, Undergraduate Student Government President Kate Greer and Vice President Julia Dennen look back on a semester of advocacy, passed legislation and achieved goals.
Greer, a fourth-year in European history and German, and Dennen, a fourth-year in public affairs, highlighted the relationships with Ohio State administration, faculty and students they have built and strengthened throughout the fall semester, which marks the halfway point of their administration’s time in office.
Among relationships that improved during the semester are those with student organizations, Greer said.
“More than ever, we have student organizations that are applying for our allocations, so much so that we have actually had to increase the money we’re giving to our allocations committee,” Greer said.
Greer and Dennen said this semester’s objective — like semesters before — has been to look out for Ohio State students.
USG helped foster the Lyft Ride Smart partnership with Ohio State throughout the semester, which is a source of pride for Greer and Dennen, they said. While Lyft Ride Smart, which replaced the university’s free Safe Ride program, has received positive feedback from users, providing students with a far shorter wait time than the previous program, some students have been confused about how to sign up for the service, and others have been concerned about the price, according to previous Lantern reporting.
“We’re really proud that we’ve been able to take this project that was passed down to our administration and push it through to the end,” Greer said. “That is something we can be really happy about.”
Ohio State’s Transportation and Traffic Management website said Lyft Ride Smart offers rides to students between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. in university-designated service areas. The cost for each ride is expected to be $2 or less after the university’s $5 credit is applied.
Ohio State students who link their school email to their Lyft account can receive discounted rides by choosing the shared-ride option on the app, according to the Transportation and Traffic Management website.
Greer and Dennen also noted USG’s presence at the Ohio Statehouse, where they were a part of successfully eliminating sales taxes on tampons and sanitary pads and are currently advocating for giving textbooks in Ohio tax-exempt status, reducing the financial burden on students.
They also passed a resolution calling on the university to support House Bill 249, which would lift the statute of limitations — a time limit for filing lawsuits — for sexual abuse survivors of former university physician Richard Strauss, who was a team doctor for 17 men’s varsity sports and physician at the Ohio State Student Wellness Center from 1978 to ’98, during which time he abused at least 177 students and student-athletes, according to a report released in May following an investigation conducted by Perkins Coie, LLP. The investigation also found that Ohio State failed to act on Strauss’ abuse at the time. There are currently at least fourteen Strauss-related suits against the university.
“What we have done as far as engaging with legislation that’s at the Statehouse has been really incredible,” Greer said.
Members of USG, specifically the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, have worked hard to ensure that testing hours will be extended for Muslim students who observe Ramadan and whose test-taking ability may be hindered by a full day of fasting, Dennen said.
This initiative comes after USG General Assembly passed a resolution in November recommending that the university allow students of all religions to be excused from exams during periods of religious observance.
“The work our organization has been able to do is incredible,” Dennen said.
As Greer and Dennen look ahead to the last few months of their administration, they see nothing but opportunity for continued improvement, including the implementation of reusable to-go silverware at every C-Store starting the first day of next semester, the creation of five interfaith prayer spaces across campus, and working with University President Michael V. Drake’s Suicide and Mental Health Task Force to create a standardized mental health absence policy.