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Student government won’t take sides on Issue 2

Issue 2 has sparked debate between its supporters and critics, but members of the University’s Undergraduate Student Government prefer to consider both sides of the conflict.

USG will maintain a neutral stance on Issue 2 during this year’s election, said Emily Ancinec, USG president.

The position will stay consistent with a resolution USG passed in spring 2010 declaring a neutral stance on faculty unionization, according to USG’s website.

“Serving students with shared governance is our main focus, and by remaining neutral, we can keep that intact,” Ancinec said. “We’re remaining neutral regardless of what happens. We want everyone at the table to have the same voice.”

Issue 2 is a referendum of Ohio Senate Bill 5, a new law limiting the ability of public employees to collectively bargain and strike. It would affect more than 350,000 employees.

The law is currently on hold until it is voted upon next week.

Proponents of Issue 2 have praised it as a budget-balancing measure that will save the state more than $1 billion. Opponents of the bill, however, call it an intentional attack on unions.

This back-and-forth battle is what prompted USG’s neutral stance, Ancinec said.

“At the time, [faculty unionization] was very much a faculty versus administration issue, and we didn’t want to be pulled into it, unnecessarily, as pawns,” she said. “We’re the liaison for the students, between faculty and administrators, and we didn’t want to pit one party against the other.”

Danni McConnell, USG diversity affairs senator, served as College of Arts and Sciences senator when USG approved the spring 2010 resolution.

“It actually came out of an initial resolution that desired to support faculty unionization,” she said. “It was definitely a tense meeting, but it was decided during the discussion that not supporting one side or the other was best. That was before Issue 2 even came up.”

USG’s neutrality now allows senators to have their own opinion concerning Issue 2, while still serving students’ needs, McConnell said.

For example, although McConnell is president of College Democrats and is against Issue 2, she supports USG’s objectivity toward faculty unionization, she said.

“The way I see it, we’re neutral about a specific part of Issue 2, but we can still have our own views,” McConnell said. “But when we’re representing the students, being neutral will prevent us from making biased decisions.”

Jon Zachrich, USG at-large senator, expressed similar feelings.

He likened the University’s faculty and administration to “two parents fighting,” and said it wouldn’t have been wise for USG to pick sides.

“As a collective unit, we don’t speak for ourselves; we speak for the whole student body,” said Zachrich, who served as Auxiliary Affairs Committee chair when the resolution was approved. “Even though we didn’t put our stamp of disapproval or approval on it, faculty unionization is important because it affects students, and that’s why we took a neutral stance. But each individual student can make their opinion heard about it by voting on Tuesday.”

Despite the upcoming election, USG has not passed a recent resolution regarding faculty unionization or Issue 2, Ancinec said.

“We’re elected to represent [the students] and make sure their voice is maintained,” she said. “Currently USG having an objective view is the best thing for students. But depending on the election, it is possible we may pass new resolutions in the future.”

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