Last year, I applied for a Student Senate environmental committee position that would be new this school year. I did not have much of an opinion about Student Senate and was not involved with any of the tickets that ran. My experience with student groups was the Sierra Student Coalition and Eco Reps. I ended up getting the position after Megan Marzec was elected, and have been a part of senate all year.
I was lucky enough to start Student Senate’s environmental committee with Olivia Wallace, the vice presidential candidate for BARE. We believed our two biggest goals were to create a network between environmental groups on campus and to help achieve one of Senate’s main goals of fossil fuel divestment. There is still plenty of work to be done for both goals, but we laid a foundation for next year’s environmental commission to pick up and to continue making strides.
As the year has progressed, I found myself getting more and more involved in what I do. Senate gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of great people on campus and I wanted to take advantage of that. I began attending OU’s Student Union meetings and taking part in many of the events that it had. Each time I went, I always found a reason to go back.
The first reason was because I questioned how OU treats its students and admired Student Union’s goals to better the university. Students are treated as customers and have almost no say in how the school runs. Students are not here to be nameless faces that wander through Athens for four years and then disappear. It is insulting that we are treated as cash crops and students should work together for a better future.
Because of my involvement in the Student Union, I found that BARE candidates have been and will continue to fight for a more democratic university structure.
The second reason I continued attending Union meetings was because of the dedication of those involved. I have worked with Olivia all year and, simply put, she is a student leader that truly cares about working for a better university. I have seen Ryant Taylor, the presidential candidate for BARE, inspire students with his activism and how he organized a safe space for conversation. Both are incredibly passionate and manage to inspire not only with what they say but how they act and treat other students. Senate recently opened up voting rights to all students for the upcoming year. BARE supports this inclusive participatory structure.
The final reason had to do with myself. When I first became a part of senate, I thought of it as a responsibility to myself and other students. It is, but now I see it as much more. I don’t plan to be a part of a senate commission next year, but I do plan to continue working for fossil fuel divestment and connecting with many organizations. The great thing about BARE is that its candidates feel the same way. Whether they are a part of Senate or not they, the BARE candidates and the other members of Student Union will continue working for a better university, and that is exactly why they have won my vote.
The year is quickly coming to an end, but if you want to learn more about the environmental commission or Student Union, email me or come to our meetings. Also, Athens Beautification Day is April 19th from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on College Green. I encourage you all to come out and help keep Athens beautiful.
Grant Stover is a sophomore studying English, a member of the Environmental Commission on Student Senate and a member of the Sierra Coalition at Ohio University. Environmental Commission meetings are held on Thursdays at 3 p.m. in Baker 305. Student Union meetings are held on Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. in Bentley 120. Email him at email@example.com or find him on Twitter at @grant_stover.