Ohio University Student Senate met Monday evening to approve a bill to support OU’s recent vaccine requirement and hear a presentation from Athens County Treasurer Ric Wasserman.
The body engaged in fervent discussion prior to voting, with members advocating both for and against supporting the bill.
Some members expressed the belief that the university should not require a vaccine, and that students should have the right to make their own health decisions.
“Voting yes on this doesn't change anybody, like, we're still mandated to get the vaccine. If you vote no, like, we represent the student body. Clearly the entire student body doesn't support the vaccine mandate and so there's no reason for the Student Senate to say that the student body does support the vaccine mandate,” Senator Tyce Patt said.
However, several senators expressed their support for the vaccine requirement and advocated passing the Senate bill, backing the university’s decision.
Senator Eli Cless related his experience contracting COVID-19 and infecting his family members after refusing to get vaccinated.
“The point being is that, yeah, I survived COVID and it was alright, because I'm a young dude,” Cless said. “But it's the older people that we really need to protect by getting vaccinated because it reduces the spread of the virus. So, it's really not to protect myself … it was to protect my older relatives and just older people in general.”
Ultimately, the bill passed with three nays.
“I think as Bobcats it's our duty to look out for each other. And I think this is a simple way that we can step up to the plate when other communities aren’t, to keep the people here safe, and the people who are unable to get the vaccine in the community, to really step up and take care of them as well,” Senator Rhyan Goodman said.
The body also heard from Athens County Treasurer Ric Wasserman about his duties in office, as well as experiences as a business owner and with community service involvement. Wasserman explained his road to political office and his responsibilities as county treasurer, including supervising property tax collection and investments.
Wasserman also spoke to collecting delinquent — or unpaid — taxes and potential resulting foreclosures. In instances of tax delinquent properties, Wasserman said, the Athens County Land Bank takes ownership of the properties and sells them to companies or buyers who repurpose the spaces.
“They're all making use of those houses, and, you know, getting that cleaned up is a really important thing for the county because those communities are really suffering,” Wasserman said.
Senate appointed several new positions, including Eli Cless to the Senate Appropriations Commission, Julia Platt as an associate justice on the Judicial Panel and Chandler Jent as Senate Appropriations Vice Commissioner of Financial Affairs.
The meeting concluded with voting members meeting in executive session to conduct executive team evaluations before adjournment.