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Ohio State’s USG president-elect eager to get to work

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Nick Messenger and Emily DeDonato were unofficially inaugurated as the 44th Undergraduate Student Government president and vice president, respectively. The ceremony took place Sunday afternoon with friends, family and USG members in the Interfaith Room in the Ohio Union.

Messenger, a second-year in economics and political science and DeDonato, a second-year in biology, ran a campaign with the slogan “Together Students Can,” and said they’re excited to get to work on their platform initiatives.

Since being elected to represent USG two weeks ago, DeDonato said she and Messenger have been meeting with administrators and going through their platform.

“The biggest thing we’re working on right now is ‘MySwitch,'” Messenger said. “We’ve had three to four meetings with administrators talking about it.”

“MySwitch” is a website Messenger and DeDonato intend to create that would help students prepare for the quarter-to-semester switch by allowing them to enter their year and major to find out which classes they need in order to graduate on time, Messenger said.

Messenger and DeDonato said they hope to continue a platform initiative from the 2010-2011 USG president and vice president, Micah Kamrass and Brad Pyle, respectively, to increase USG’s visibility on campus.

“The last thing we want to see is USG go back to being its own organization and not doing as much outreach,” Messenger said.

The new USG president and vice president said they will be out in public talking to students at least once a week. Messenger said it could be on the Oval or at the RPAC.

“One of the best things Brad and I did for USG was encourage the organization to get out and listen to students and to hear the students needs,” Kamrass said. “I think that’s something that would pay off very much for them to continue.”

Messenger and DeDonato were the fourth-highest recipients of total votes since USG began in 1967, receiving 3,899 votes and 51.4 percent of the votes.

The new USG president and vice president beat out two other campaign teams. Jacob Foskuhl, a third-year in public affairs and Russian, and Melissa Kellams, a second-year in public affairs, came in second with 24.4 percent of the votes, a total of 1,852. Kevin Flynn, a fourth-year in biochemistry and international studies, and Andrea Blinkhorn, a third-year in international studies and political science, came in third with 21.9 percent of the votes, a total of 1,664.

Messenger and DeDonato said they are in the process of deciding who will be in their cabinet and committees after receiving around 130 applications. The deadline to submit an application to be a cabinet or committee member was Friday. Interviews will take place this week.

DeDonato said they should have their decision made by May 16 and the amount of people who will be selected is not set in stone.

“We’re not going to set a solid number and then turn someone down who we think we be great for a specific role,” DeDonato said. “It’s pretty flexible.”

Messenger said he and DeDonato will be advocating to the board of trustees and to the office of the chief financial officer to keep tuition low and fees down.

“Students are being hit hard by the economic recession. And that’s something that was clear to us that we didn’t fully understand at the beginning of our campaign,” Messenger said, “As we met students who were struggling to be at Ohio State now … it became clear to us the huge responsibility that we face.”

Messenger and DeDonato plan to implement a book-swap program that could save students money. It would have students buying and selling textbooks directly with each other and could save each student up to $80 per quarter.

Messenger said the $80 estimate was determined through putting Ohio State’s numbers of student population, average price of a book and an estimate that 4 percent of students would participate, into the results from other Big Ten universities, Wisconsin and Michigan State, who use similar book swap programs.

Messenger said this summer USG will be working on the book-swap program logistics by finding storage space and getting the website up.

An official USG inauguration will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Senate chamber in the Ohio Union. 

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