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The President’s Report: Feb. 15, 2017

Zack Thomas, Student Body President

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Hello, my fellow Oakland University students!

Your university student congress and I have been hard at work for the betterment of the university since the last President’s Report! I am so happy to report on some new initiatives we have taken on, as well as our achievements throughout this year, followed by some upcoming events to watch out for!

New initiatives

The university student congress legislature, led by Brittany Kleinschmidt (one of our newer legislators), has sparked an initiative called “Help Out HAVEN.” HAVEN is a shelter that protects and cares for survivors of domestic abuse. In the Help Out HAVEN initiative, students bring in toiletries, clothing items, etc. to give to HAVEN for use by the survivors. In return, students receive a hoodie with the “Help Out HAVEN” logo on it. The initiative lasts until Feb. 17, and a full list of acceptable items is accessible at www.haven-oakland.org/donate.

Additionally, the university student congress has already purchased and is in the process of obtaining approval to place feminine products, free of charge, in women’s restrooms. The idea spurred from executive board member, Margaret Merogi, and the goal is to help OU women! Personally, I think this is a great, cost-effective way to benefit a majority of the OU community.

Achievements throughout the year

It’s OUSC election season, and with that comes well-deserved scrutiny into those already in office. So, in the spirit of transparency and answering the question “What have we done this year?” I will list out our major accomplishments, one by one. In the previous President’s Report, I outlined our main platform pieces, as well as what we have done to realize those pieces.

Our platform pieces were as follows:

  • a realistic parking solution
  • administrative transparency and accountability
  • social justice for underrepresented communities
  • amplify the student voice
  • reinvent student congress
  • a host of other secondary pieces.

Here are all of our major achievements:

  • Lobbied OU administration for a minimum wage raise of 75 cents to $9.25 per hour
  • Gathered 1,500 signatures of students standing up against the Board of Trustees’ February 2016 retreat
  • Collected 300 student testimonials to prevent the moving of the Campus Student Organic Farm
  • Pressured OU administration to not fund a $30-million parking project that would have caused need for fee-based parking. Instead, we agreed on a no-fee parking expansion of 600-700 spots using already-existing monies and a refining of the Bear Bus program. This will take place before fall 2017
  • Persuaded implementation of a tuition equality policy for Deferred Action on Childhood Arrival students
  • Lobbied OU administration to focus on expanding accessibility on campus by: fixing sidewalk craters, repairing pushpads and door weights, realigning crosswalks by Oak View Hall and Vandenberg Hall, and drawing an additional $3 million for accessibility enhancements in the Oakland Center expansion
  • Instituted a full preferred name policy for the benefit of the LGBTIQA+ community, international students and survivors of sexual assault
  • Instituted the Active Grizzly program to provide students with OU gear and increase attendance at student organization events (led by Jorge Garcia)
  • Registered 525 students to vote with zero OUSC mishaps, more than doubling numbers over the previous OUSC election year (this year’s initiative led by Sophia Polsinelli)
  • Purchased eight outdoor recycling bins to increase sustainability on-campus (led by Lena Mishack)
  • Instituted a program to provide free feminine products for students (led by Margaret Merogi)
  • Implemented the Help Out HAVEN initiative (led by Brittany Kleinschmidt)

If ever anyone asks, “What does Student Congress ever do?” feel free to point them to this list (which is not exhaustive by any means!). We are happy to have served (and continue to serve) the students successfully this year!

Upcoming events/happenings

  • President Hynd Townhall/Open Forum at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 15 in the Oakland Center Fireside Lounge
  • OUSC election candidate open forum at 12 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 27 in the Oakland Center Banquet Rooms
  • State of the Student Body Address and Campus Open Forum on 1 p.m. on Monday, March 6 in the Oakland Center Gold Rooms

Be on the lookout for OUSC candidates presenting their platforms to you and for a potentially up-and-coming amendment to the OUSC Constitution that you can vote on!

The university student congress and I are here to serve YOU. Please let me know if you have any questions at [email protected] or [email protected]!

Sincerely,

Zack Thomas

OU Student Body President

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Oakland University's independent student newspaper.