Speaker of the General Assembly Cade Santha continues working in the Senate Chamber after General Assembly is finished Jan. 22 Credit: Brendan Kucera | Lantern Reporter

Record of suspensions may not follow students anymore — at least if Undergraduate Student Government has anything to say about it.  

Resolutions encouraging a change to the university’s browser, a transcript suspension removal and a recommendation for the creation of a peer leader system for international students were up for discussion as USG met in the Senate Chamber Wednesday for its General Assembly meeting, during which its first pieces of legislation for the new year were passed. 

Suspension notation policy 

After Sen. Emily Needham said a student approached USG regarding the university’s suspension policy, she drafted a resolution that would remove suspensions from transcripts for both student and academic misconduct. The resolution passed Wednesday with 34 votes for, zero against and two abstaining.

The goal of this resolution is to give students who have made mistakes in the past an opportunity to be forgiven for those mistakes, Needham said.  

“If a student is suspended and not expelled and they complete all of their sanctions — which are the consequences for their suspension by their due date — it would be reasonable that that would be removed from their transcript,” Needham said.

A greener way to search

Resolution 52-R-18, which would make Ecosia the default browser on Ohio State’s campus, passed after deliberation in a 35-to-1 vote. Ecosia is a search engine that works to plant trees when a user searches on their site, Sen. Josh Goetz said.

“Basically, Ecosia is a search engine like Google or Bing, except it donates 80 percent of its profits to planting trees around the world, and it also uses renewable energy, so essentially every time you search with Ecosia you are reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere,” Goetz said.

As of June 2019, Ecosia planted 60 million trees and built its own solar power plant to power searches, according to Ecosia’s website. 

The University of Sunderland in the United Kingdom started using Ecosia in September 2019 and by November had planted 4,214 trees, according to the website. Ecosia also works with the University of Sussex and Swansea University, both in the United Kingdom, and it has already gotten started at Ohio State.

In February 2019, a group of Ohio State graduate students and their faculty adviser were awarded $40,000 in funding from the Smart Campus Challenge — a sustainability competition hosted by Ohio State Energy Partners — for its concept that aimed to install Ecosia as the default search engine on 30,000 Ohio State campus computers, according to previous Lantern reporting.

Ohio State searches funded the planting of more than 40,000 trees as of November 2019, according to the website. 

The browser would be included on every public computer on campus, Goetz said.

“The idea is that if we promote it at OSU and make it the default search engine, then it will encourage students to use Ecosia and therefore just contribute to the overall lessening of carbon pollution throughout the world,” Goetz said.

Sen. Alek Kundla — the lone oppositional vote — said Ecosia does not provide all relevant search results. 

“The simple fact is, unfortunately, Google gives the best search results and it gives everything most accurately, most quickly,” Kundla said.

Peer leaders for international students

 A resolution campaigning for international students to receive a peer leader was the quickest to pass in a unanimous decision. 

Currently, domestic students are given a peer leader at orientation to guide them through their first year by answering questions and providing support for students, but international students are not given that same privilege, Parliamentarian Caleb Hineman said. International students are paired with someone for a few days, compared with a year other students get. 

According to Ohio State’s enrollment data, 6,563 international students attended the Columbus campus in the fall semester.  

“Essentially, international students are not assigned with peer leaders like domestic students are, so they have an early orientation where they are paired with a student that could be international or domestic and when they are with them, it is only for about two days or a short period of time, whereas with domestic students, they are paired with a peer leader for an entire year,” Hineman said.