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Task force aims to improve Ohio State off-campus area

Tim Kubick / For the Lantern

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The Ohio State Undergraduate Student Government announced a plan Wednesday that will reach beyond campus’ borders.
In the USG’s annual State of the University address Wednesday at the Ohio Union, president Taylor Stepp announced the creation of the Off-Campus Development Task Force, which will address problems in the University District such as deteriorating physical conditions of houses, landlord problems and rent issues.
The task force, which will be led by former USG president Nick Messenger, will get an initial finding of how the off-campus area is by surveying students and parents, as well as talking to landlords and city legislatures for the next three to four weeks. Messenger also said he plans to issue a comprehensive report of their findings by Feb. 1.
“Conditions off campus are pretty awful right now, and I think we have one of the world’s greatest university libraries, we have a great union, a great rec center facility,” said Messenger, a fourth-year in economics and political science. “But when students and their parents come to Ohio State and walk through that off-campus neighborhood, it stands out as a sore spot.”
Messenger added that the task force will create “student development goals” between Feb. 1 and March to “isolate the key things that development in the off-campus area needs to include to create a student neighborhood.”
In addition to creating the task force, USG will also conduct a comprehensive survey Spring Semester to determine how to improve semesters and help students with the conversion.
The study will focus on all aspects of students’ lives on the semester system, such as added course loads, stress levels and the pacing of classes. The study will also focus on internship opportunities for students, as well as recreational usage.
“We realized this was going to be bigger than we thought it would be, so we wanted to do a thorough, thoughtful professional study,” Stepp said.
Other points Stepp addressed in the State of the University address included objectives USG has accomplished throughout Fall Semester, such as the joint jurisdiction agreement between University Police and the Columbus Division of Police, as well as the Semesters Appeals Board, a council where students can report problems they have experienced with the semester conversion. Stepp also talked about Buckeye Roadtrip, a program that gives OSU students free bus rides to several Ohio cities.
“Student safety is still one of USG’s largest concerns, and we will continue to do everything in our power to work to keep all students safe,” Stepp said.  
A crowd of about 150 students, faculty and other individuals were present for the address. OSU President E. Gordon Gee was in attendance, said he’s “very supportive” of what Stepp has suggested for the university.
“I think that Taylor did a wonderful job outlining both the accomplishments of the last year, the work that is ahead, and the opportunities for collaboration between the various constituents of the university,” Gee said in an interview with The Lantern.

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