Paul Woo / Lantern photographer
A day after President Barack Obama focused his State of the Union address on the economy, USG President Micah Kamrass said keeping tuition affordable will be a priority during the rest of his time in office.
Achievements and goals were most of the topics that about 125 attendees, including USG members, university administrators and students heard. Kamrass, a fourth-year in political science and economics, delivered the speech in the Great Hall Meeting Room of the Ohio Union at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Kamrass identified tuition affordability as his primary goal for the remainder of the USG term. Kamrass said USG would work with OSU administrators to make spending more efficient and to reduce expenses.
“We must work with university administration to ensure that our students do not experience a costly tuition credit cap next year as many students plan to take an increased course load to prepare for the transition to semesters,” Kamrass said.
Amanda Bragdon, a fourth-year in political science and economics and co-chair of the Human Rights Campaign, stressed the importance of keeping tuition costs at a manageable level.
“Most of us are making minimum wage,” Bragdon said. “The difference between going to college and not may be $1,000 per quarter.”
Kamrass said USG would work to reestablish relations with the state and to advocate on students’ behalf. He also announced an effort to lobby the state government to enact a weeklong tax holiday on school supplies, including textbooks.
Kamrass said student governments in 14 other states successfully lobbied to enact similar legislation. The USG Government Relations team has begun researching.
Jaime Gusching, USG senator representing the College of Business, said she appreciated the inter-branch synergy Kamrass brought to USG. She commented on the importance of the tax holiday endeavor.
“As a business major, we really appreciate that bottom line,” said Gusching, a fourth-year in business. “Lowering costs and making a tangible difference for students, that was really important.”
USG is also trying to extend library hours. Kamrass said library hours do not harmonize with the schedules of many OSU students. USG will aim to extend Thompson Library closing time from midnight to 2 a.m., starting next year.
With the green movement gaining momentum, Kamrass said USG supports numerous smaller projects to benefit the environment, but OSU needs to embrace a large-scale project.
“Combining our goals of sustainability and affordability, USG will lead the way in requesting that we install a machine in the off-campus area that pays students to recycle their cans,” Kamrass said. “This service already exists in the Columbus community, but it is important that we bring it closer to the students.”
Bragdon noted the presence of unused recycling receptacles around campus. He said the element of financial incentive for students is “brilliant.”
USG also announced that discrimination has no place on OSU’s campus. USG has already begun lobbying OSU administrators to close a loophole in policies regarding membership in student organizations.
OSU’s registration guidelines for student organizations say groups founded on firm religious beliefs can craft their non-discrimination policies based on those beliefs.
“In order for the university to live up to its motto of ‘education for citizenship,’ we must send the message to our students that discrimination will not be tolerated and that despite our great differences, we are all Buckeyes,” Kamrass said.
Among USG accomplishments for Autumn Quarter were voter registration, a comprehensive renter’s guide, free window alarms for students, free HIV/AIDS testing for students and assistance in bringing Obama to campus.
The USG Student Support and Outreach Team was successful in efforts to contact every student organization, making them aware of the mission of USG and how USG could help them, Kamrass told The Lantern.
USG Vice President Brad Pyle, a fourth-year in business, said the USG Diversity Team has brought student organizations together to share ideas and events. Pyle said the team aided in the development of the Taste of OSU, happening Friday from 5-9 p.m. in the Archie Griffin Ballroom at the Ohio Union. Taste of OSU is an event where students can share their culture through food, according to OSU’s website.
Kamrass commented on strength of USG relationships with OSU administrators.
“President (E. Gordon) Gee and his team always say that students come first in this university,” Kamrass said. “USG’s experience working with them has demonstrated that they truly do practice what they preach.”