Although Gerard Basalla, a third-year in strategic communication, and Danielle Di Scala, a third-year in political science, are running unopposed on the ballot for Undergraduate Student Government president and vice president, new candidates have stepped forward to run as write-ins.
Cin’Quan Haney, a third-year in physics, is running for president with Curtis Henry, a third-year in sports industry, who is running for vice president of USG. Their campaign, called “Write In Haney Henry,” is focused on increasing diversity within USG to serve more of the campus community. They announced their intent to run on Thursday via Twitter and Instagram.
USG released a diversity report on Feb. 15, which showed comparative data of USG members in relation to OSU’s undergraduate student population. According to the report, USG members showed overrepresentation of members in sororities and fraternities by 19.57 percent, overrepresentation of white students by about 8 percent and Asian-American students by 6 percent. Black and Latino students were underrepresented by 2.54 percent and 1.61 percent, respectively.
“It’s frustrating to know all voices on campus aren’t being heard … I’m a part of many organizations on campus. USG reaches out to these organizations to try to hear more of the voices of the student body instead of actually attending organizations’ events,” Haney said. “Instead of just sending out an email, calling over the phone or texting, I like to be very personable and be face-to-face, so that I can build strong relationships. I feel like USG doesn’t have that (kind of) relationship built with administration and the student body.”
Haney also said that the Haney-Henry campaign is a write-in campaign because the candidates had no knowledge of how to officially run for office. Haney said that once they learned how to get their names on the USG election ballot, it was too late.
The Haney-Henry campaign is running on three main policy points: transparency, security and diversity, according to a policy-based document released on the duo’s Twitter page, where they also campaign with the hashtags #TogetherOSU and #WriteUsInNotOff.
The document states the two will advocate for public video conferencing at town hall forums, add a digital technology team to USG to improve its website, push for more mental health resources on campus and add a required cultural competency course for first-year students to increase their knowledge of people from different ethnic backgrounds.
Jack Brandl, a first-year student in public affairs and economics, met the candidates multiple times before becoming their campaign manager. Brandl said that Patricia Cunningham II, the director of the Department of Social Change, where he works, told him about Henry and Haney’s success in a leadership course for black men that she teaches, and he began to meet with the candidates to plan for their campaign.
“I’ve talked to so many students who, when they vote, all they simply do is open up the ballot and pick some names that they like. Considering that the other campaign is the only one on the ballot, basically anyone who’s not writing in our names is a vote for the other campaign,” Brandl said. “The write-in (method) is an extra challenge, but I kind of like it at the same time because it proves we’re a campaign that people actually want. If people are actively going to the ballot and writing in their names, it means they know our policies, they know our candidates and they like it.”
Another student running a write-in campaign is Stavroula Pabst. Pabst, a third-year in history and Modern Greek, is running a satirical campaign for USG under the Twitter handle @Ready4Stav.
“Students are frustrated … A lot of students see USG campaign really, really hard for elections, but they don’t really see USG around much of the rest of the time,” she said. “For me and a lot of other people, this serves as a relief.”
Pabst has been a writer for the online humor magazine The Sundial throughout her college career. Though she is running a satirical campaign, Pabst said that she takes the issues within USG and on campus seriously. She said she is not using the campaign to “poke holes into USG’s legitimacy”; she said she is using it to highlight what she thinks USG does and does not do well.
“Because this is a fake campaign, and I can do basically whatever I want, whoever wants to be my vice president is my vice president. Several people have claimed they are my running mate. I am also my own running mate, actually,” Pabst said. “But the main one so far is Nicholas Wymer. His whole point is pushing the ‘gay agenda’ on OSU, which I completely agree with. He thinks that USG is absurdly heteronormative and I totally agree.”
USG’s diversity report stated that 84.66 percent of USG identified as straight/heterosexual. The report also stated 51.32 percent of USG identified as male and 47.09 percent identified as female. There was no comparative data available for OSU as a whole.
Wymer, a third-year in psychology and classics, campaigns under the Twitter handle @Ready4NickMaybe.
Among Pabst’s many policies are replacing the “Carmen Ohio” song with Kanye West’s “Bound 2,” adding mozzarella sticks to campus dining hall menus, giving students free kittens, allowing naps to be an excused absence from classes and abolishing gender.
Wymer is campaigning for making the rainbow filter on Snapchat available every day, creating a USG task force that ranks hot dogs on campus, making pierogi day every day at Kennedy Commons Traditions and allocating school funds to pay for Beyoncé, Frank Ocean and Lady Gaga to perform at OSU’s spring and fall concerts.
Though Haney and Pabst are not on USG’s 2016 election ballot, they both said they hope their campaigns create a more successful future for USG on campus.
“This campaign is important because it gives students a choice. Democratic elections are all about choice and choosing who you want. The fact that we have a democratic election with no choice is not really democratic,” Brandl said. “Win or lose in this campaign, I hope that we’re giving students a choice.”