Debate on USG campaigns the day before voting begins

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From left to right, Roaya Higazi and Caleb Hineman, Sophie Ruttenberg and Ethan Wolf, and Nicole Espinoza De Montreuil and Edward Donis Madison participated in a debate as presidential and vice-presidential candidates, respectively, at Hale Hall Sunday. Credit: Max Garrison | Lantern reporter

With a day before the vote began, the presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the undergraduate government took the stage in front of more than 100 people on Sunday to debate the issues facing the campus.

Access, affordability and diversity were the focal points of the three campaigns during the debate at Hale Hall moderated by the USG Judicial Panel. This year’s race is the first for the president and vice president of the USG with more than two teams since 2017.

Sophie Ruttenberg and Ethan Wolf, Roaya Higazi and Caleb Hineman, and Nicole Espinoza De Montreuil and Edward Donis Madison will run for President and Vice-President respectively. Voting will start Monday at noon and end Wednesday at 11:59 p.m.

“In light of our first competitive election season in a very long time, I really want to encourage all of you to be very critical of the things that are said by all the candidates,” said Higazi, a third year in urban planning and regional and current vice president of diversity and inclusion in shared governance within the U.S. government’s collaborative leadership team, said.

Ruttenberg, a third year in public administration and current senator in the USG General Assembly, said she and Wolf, a second year in public administration and representative of the government relations committee at USG, would create about 14 outreach chairs to engage the student body, rather than asking students to come directly to them.

“What we need to do is implement a significant structural change that leaves us with no choice but to reach out throughout the year,” said Ruttenberg.

The USG came under scrutiny last month for failing to recognize Black History Month during a meeting at Hale Hall, home to the Frank W. Hale Black Cultural Center, and for its lack of representative campus diversity, according to previous Lantern reports. Ruttenberg acknowledged the importance of the venue for debate in his opening statement.

Higazi said she and Hineman, a third year in natural resource management and currently parliamentary for the USG General Assembly, are most passionate about creating financial transparency for students going through FAFSA audit – a process that requires students to submit additional financial needs documents and puts students at risk of being withdrawn from classes at the start of the semester due to processing delays.

Higazi said she and Hineman wanted to provide support services through the Student Financial Aid Office and create a grace period for students who submit their documents on time but are affected by delays.

“If you follow the rules and do what you have to do, there’s no reason you should always be kicked out of your classes due to processing delays,” Higazi said.

Espinoza De Montreuil, a third year in marketing and former president of USG on the Newark, Ohio State campus, said that she and Donis Madison, a second year in environmental science, technology and exploration, want to work to consolidate the various resources for low- income students into a single resource center.

This center would include the Buckeye Food Alliance, an on-campus pantry and a place to donate clothing, furniture and books, Espinoza De Montreuil said.

“It’s time to work even harder, now more than ever, to make sure every Buckeye stays healthy and heard because united we can make a difference at Ohio State University,” said Espinoza De Montreuil.

Voting for the U.S. government election opens on March 2 and ends on March 4.

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