Home Campus Student Senate endorses Issue 1 in narrow vote

Student Senate endorses Issue 1 in narrow vote

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Student Senate. Photo by Sarah Donaldson.

Following a narrow vote, Student Senate decided to endorse Issue 1 at its meeting Wednesday.

Student Senate endorsed Issue 1 on the Ohio midterm ballot at the body’s Wednesday night meeting.

The Senate voted 23-20 in favor of a bill to endorse Issue 1, a proposed amendment to the Ohio constitution to be voted on by Ohio constituents in the coming weeks. The initiative would demote drug possession crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor and move toward more funding for rehabilitation efforts.

With such a close vote, there were strong opinions for and against the bill. Students in opposition of the bill’s passage cited concerns such as the certainty of an amendment to the Ohio constitution and local law enforcement’s opposition to Issue 1. The bill was sponsored by Honors Tutorial College Senator Georgia Curran.

Nic Paredes, the assistant chief of staff and a secondary sponsor of the bill, expressed his support for both the passage of the bill and the passage of Issue 1 in November.

“We don’t know where we are going to be as a nation, and we don’t know what the Ohio state legislature is going to be like,” said Paredes. “This is probably one of the only few opportunities we’re going to have to fight for this issue when our state representatives are not taking any action.”

Rachael Ridout, an at-large senator and another secondary sponsor of the bill, had her own personal experience with recovery from addiction, which played into her decision to act as a secondary sponsor for the bill.

“Addiction and stigma and recovery is something that’s kind of rough,” Ridout said. “Seeing support from fellow senators really makes me feel kind of nice.”

Student Senate Vice President Hannah Burke advised the Senate against endorsing an issue that its constituents would soon be voting on.

When asked about his stance, Ohio University Police Chief Andrew Powers expressed his opposition to Issue 1 before Student Senate’s consideration of the bill.

Powers gave a presentation about HallOUween safety — and most notably — his continued concerns with sexual assault on and off-campus. He talked about his worries concerning student’s lack of understanding of consent.

“Somebody commented that we should be out catching rapists, instead of arresting people for underage consumption,” Powers said. “My answer to that is that we don’t prioritize alcohol enforcement, … it finds us. But if we ignore that stuff, that’s what often leads further on, later in the night, to sexual assaults. It’s about pushing back on all of that behavior.”

In other business:

  • City Council member Peter Kostes attended the meeting to ask students to vote in favor Issue 3 on the ballot.
  • A new chief justice was appointed, as well as a senator to the Senate Appropriations Commissioner and a senator to the Regional Affairs Commission.
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