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USG releases internal demographic report

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The Ohio State Undergraduate Student Government released an internal demographic report Monday after students expressed concern that USG is not accurately representative of minority groups at Ohio State.

During a rally in November called #OSU2Mizzou, black students and allies marched and held a sit-in to show solidarity with protesters at the University of Missouri who were pushing for the removal of their university president after racially targeted events. OSU student organizers held a sit-in at the Ohio Union and would not leave until a list of demands were negotiated with administration and USG. The demands called for acknowledgement of anti-black racism on OSU’s campus, along with a statement that students wanted an internal demographic report of USG. USG publicly agreed to create the report in a press release and tweet.

“Us students were very aware of the fact that USG is not a representative space,” Maryam Abidi, one of the five #OSU2Mizzou organizers and a third-year in women’s studies, gender and sexuality studies and strategic communication, said. “It is primarily white. It is primarily Greek. It is white students who are in fraternities and sororities, which is a very small percentage of Ohio State’s actual campus.”

The demographic report contains comparative data of different identities of USG members in relation to OSU’s student population as a whole.

According to the report, while 30.57 percent of USG members are members of a sorority or fraternity, 11 percent of OSU’s entire student body are reported to be members of Greek organizations. The report also shows data of overrepresentation of white students by about 8 percent, and Asian-American students were overrepresented by 6 percent. Representation of black and Latino students were underrepresented by 2.54 and 1.61 percent, respectively. Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students are not represented in USG while they make up 0.06 percent of the student population.

The report also stated 6.35 percent of USG members identified as gay, 1.06 percent as lesbian, 3.7 percent as bisexual, 1.06 percent asexual, 1.06 percent questioning, .53 as other and 1.59 preferring not to state preference. 51.32 percent of USG identified as male and 47.09 identified as female, with 1.59 not stating.

Data regarding gender identities, sexual orientations and religious affiliations of OSU students was unavailable from the university and was not included in the report for comparison.

USG Vice President Abby Waidelich, a fourth-year in biological engineering, said she found out about students’ more recent request for the demographic report after reading tweets to her personal account from students, with the hashtag “#GiveUsTheReportUSG.”

“One thing to realize is that we’ve had students work on this report and this survey tireless hours over the last three months. The report actually took three months to get out. The first two months were compiling what questions we’d have in the survey,” Waidelich said. “We worked with the Center for (the) Study of Student Life in ensuring that our survey was encompassing and also that it met all laws on getting information from students … then the second week we were back from winter break, we released the survey.”

Waidelich also said that it took an additional month to get USG’s survey reports back because of the number of total members. Of all USG members, the survey received 192 responses, giving it a 95.05 percent response rate.

Other areas of underrepresentation in USG’s internal demographic report are in students who are federal Pell grant recipients and first-generation college students. Overrepresentation is reported in students majoring in public affairs, business or in arts and sciences.

Abidi said that the Twitter hashtag “#GiveUsTheReportUSG” was started after she and fellow organizer, Sarah Mamo, a third-year in African-American and African studies and political science, said she felt too much time had passed since they and other #OSU2Mizzou participants initially requested the report four months earlier.

Abidi said with no recent mention or updates given regarding the report, that it was “imperative that we follow through.”

“The reason we took to Twitter was we know, as people who have organized before, that nothing gets done if you don’t do it publicly,” Abidi said. “I have personally been caught in (USG’s) meeting runaround where they’re like, ‘Meet with us in person,’ and it never really goes anywhere. You get caught in bureaucratic mess.”

Waidelich said that a task force will be created this semester to increase diversity in USG, but Abidi said she is doubtful it will be successful. Abidi cited the No Place for Hate task force as a failure, among other task forces implemented at OSU. She said demands made by alumni who had protested in the events that led to the No Place For Hate task force in 2012 have demands that have still not been met.

“USG is not perfect, we’re students … we want to hear the concerns that students have, and we’ll take them seriously. We have such great repertoires with administrators that we are the best avenues for students to get things done,” Waidelich said. “If you’re a minority group that isn’t represented in USG, let us know. Work with us. If you don’t want to release it on a public forum, or if you do, do that so we can know.”

Correction Feb. 16: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the international student population of USG was not included in the report, when in fact it is included within the residency demographics section.

4 comments

  1. There are plenty of things that you can attack USG for (not representing student voices, transparency, etc.) but it is an open enrollment organization that makes plenty of effort to reach out to minority student organizations. If you hate the lack of diversity in USG and you are a minority, I imagine it would be more effective to join the organization than putting out some tweets with a hashtag.

  2. Listen, I was a very active and very involved student on campus for five years, and I never figured out how to join USG. The first step on the road to better representation is recognizing the problem; the second is to fix it, which is not the sole responsibility of minority students. A lot of that step has to be outreach from USG, not only in making it more clear in how to join but in making sure the environment is welcoming (as well as accessible – a troubling part of the survey results is that most current members don’t have jobs or Pell grants, which is a red flag). This data is very enlightening, and I’m happy that it is publicly available, but now everyone has to be willing to listen to each other with an open mind about how to rectify representation problems. This is a complicated, systemic issue and requires a solution beyond “minority students should just join and stop complaining.”

    • “I never figured out how to join USG.”

      I am not in USG by the way, but here is a friendly guide.
      Step 1) Google “How to Join USG Ohio State”
      Step 2) Click the first link
      Step 3) Click “How to join USG” under the banner “Get involved in USG”
      Step 4) Read the application process, and complete it before the September 3rd deadline.

      I’m sorry you were not able to figure that out!

      • The point I was trying to make is that USG doesn’t recruit as heavily as other student organizations. If they are committed to fixing the representation problem (if they even consider it a problem), they have to be willing to do more outreach, since most students on campus don’t even know what USG is responsible for. That was what I was trying to convey: that “plenty” of outreach is clearly not enough, but if the only thing you took away from my comment is that I’m an idiot, I guess there’s not much I can say to change your mind.

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