An Undergraduate Student Government campaign team is bringing a variety of experience in its slate — but little of it originated in USG.
Vytas Aukstuolis, a third-year in public affairs, is running for USG president with Nick Macek, a third-year in geography, running for vice president. Both have served as alternates for the USG senate, selected by the person who was elected, but have never been elected.
Only one person on their ticket, Dan Marchese, who is running for West Campus senator, has been involved in USG previously.
This was deliberate, Aukstuolis said, because the team wanted to find people with an “understanding of the student body outside of USG.”
“What we’re trying to describe with our campaign, and our slate, and ourselves even, is that the leadership experience required to sit as an elected member of USG doesn’t necessarily have to be from USG,” Macek said.
Aukstuolis used Vince Hayden, a third-year in political science who is running for social and behavioral sciences senator, as an example. Hayden is a veteran of the Iraq War.
“He understands a lot of the concerns that the large veteran’s community has at Ohio State,” Aukstuolis said.
Aukstuolis and Macek said they know the needs of student organizations on campus because of their participation in them. Aukstuolis gained leadership experience as a chief founder of the Multi-Partisan Coalition, which aims to allow for debate along political ideological lines, and Macek is the political director of College Democrats and was a president of Model African Union. Macek also created and managed a network of almost 300 volunteers in a presidential campaign and is an Eagle Scout.
Macek said their slate is designed to avoid “the cycle” of USG members returning to the organization, and “inefficiencies” not being addressed.
Macek said he and Aukstuolis have been identifying issues with USG since they first decided to run in September, including budget transparency.
“There is … a miscellaneous fund which has $8,000 allocated towards it, and to an average onlooker, there’s no way to find that out,” Aukstuolis said.
Macek said he and Aukstuolis plan to make the budget more detailed and easier to find on the USG website.
Macek said USG has a public relations problem which hinders its ability to help students with its $250,000 budget.
“A lot of students, if you say (to them) ‘Hey, I’m running for USG,’ their first question is ‘What is USG?’” Macek said.
Aukstuolis said they plan on partnering with The PRactice, a student-run public relations firm at OSU, to publicize USG’s work and other student organization achievements. Macek said they would also encourage senators to attend student organization meetings in their constituency.
Aukstuolis and Macek have a network of international contacts, including friends in the Chinese Student Scholar Society and Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Aukstuolis said. Macek said they also have local, state and federal government contacts, who they would use to conduct business USG cannot accomplish alone.
There are six campaign teams running: Josh Ahart and Jen Tripi; Aukstuolis and Macek; Ryan Hedrick and Nicole Spaetzel; Mohamad Mohamad and Sean Crowe; Andrew Warnecke and Logan Recker; and Celia Wright and Leah Lacure.
Voting is open online Monday through Wednesday.
The Ahart-Tripi campaign was recently accused of falsifying campaign expense reports by three of the opposing campaigns. The website “voteceliaandleah.com,” which includes the names of an opposing campaign, was registered in the name of the Ahart-Tripi campaign manager, though the campaign had not reported the expense. The USG judicial panel, though, reached a unanimous decision that the team had not committed a violation. The opposing campaigns who had brought the complaint forward – Wright and Lacure; Aukstuolis and Macek; and Mohamad and Crowe – said they were not planning to appeal.
Aukstuolis began his campaign concerned with other students having a lesser experience than he had.
“I’ve had a great experience at Ohio State, and gotten a lot of great resources that have developed me as a student and a human being,” Aukstuolis said. “USG has the ability to bring that same experience to more people, and I want to do that.”
Editor’s note: The campaigns were listed in alphabetical order by presidential candidates’ last names.