Ohio State has a new political organization on the map. No Labels, an organization which aims to blur the lines of party affiliation and assess issues individually for “focused problem solving,” particularly in American politics, had its first meeting on Friday at the Ohio Union.
Pat Lipaj, a fourth-year in political science and economics, and Jay Jackson, a fourth-year in neuroscience and French, are piloting the new political organization.
“At Ohio State, we want to be this lens for people to engage in politics,” Jackson said. “We want to be the space of problem solving, the space of getting things done.”
Jackson and Lipaj said that in their final year at Ohio State, they wanted to make a permanent change at their university and in their community by bringing people of all political affiliations together to sit down and tackle the major issues in the U.S.
Their inaugural event had a notable lineup of OSU alumni, including state representative Steve Stivers, Ohio House of Representatives member Michael Stinziano and Ohio Senator Frank LaRose. Alongside these political figures, members of OSU’s organizations such as BuckeyeThon, Pride OSU and the Undergraduate Student Government came to the stage to discuss issues affecting students.
Stivers, a member of Congress since 2008, talked about his track record for working across the aisle with Democrats in order to get more done in Congress.
“We have to start with the small things, it’s where we are more agreeable,” Stivers said.
Stinziano also had an Ohio background as a Columbus native who grew up just across from the old OSU hospital. Stinziano, like Stivers, talked about his determination to work across the aisle to solve the problems that affect Ohioans, and he said millennials have not yet taken advantage of the elected officials at their disposal.
Leaders from BuckeyeThon, Pride OSU and USG discussed issues like college affordability, suicide prevention, new initiatives in academic advising on campus and how passion can inspire change both at OSU and in the community. The chosen topics focused on the issues currently facing millennials.
Senator LaRose said he believes the “main driving force” should be problem solving. He said all millennials should be critical consumers of information and not succumb to the “fallacy of party politics.”
“Everybody that’s doing this thing called ‘state government’ is trying to make a difference — but you don’t have to abandon your ideologies,” LaRose said.
LaRose also said No Labels places college students in a place to better understand the political system and understand the facets of nonpartisan problem solving.
“We are all passionate about causes, we want to change the world, but we’re disillusioned by politics because we think it doesn’t make a difference,” he said. “No Labels shows that there is a way to use the political process to try and make a change.”
LaRose also said the current political sphere is like “two children fighting over a toy.” He said both our current and future leaders will be important in achieving bipartisan problem solving.
Lipaj and Jackson said they came together this year with a vision to bring people of all political affiliations together and start problem solving.
“We started No Labels because we believed in problem solving,” Jackson said. “We believed in something greater than party politics, something greater than gridlock, and that’s exactly what No Labels has given us.”
Lipaj said their biggest goal — besides getting No Labels recognized — is finding the leaders that can move the organization forward in the coming years, but he said some of those future leaders could have been at the event.
Jake Vasilj, the political director of Ohio State’s College Democrats, and David Stanislav, the chairman of College Republicans, closed the event by performing a poem together about compromise and finding common ground on the issues facing America today without compromising personal beliefs.
“Yes, I am on the left, and you are on the right, but for our country? America? Together we fight,” the poem read.