By Frances Clause
For 25 years, Youngstown State University’s Honors College has given students the opportunity to lead and make lasting contributions to the community. The program is currently bringing change to YSU with its growing number of students.
Three hundred students were enrolled in the honors program during the fall 2014 semester. That number has nearly quadrupled to 1,133 with students from 17 states and 13 different countries.
Jacob Harrah, an Honors College trustee and co-chair of the fundraising committee, said the college’s most recent goal was to include honors representatives on YSU’s Student Government Association (SGA). This initiative didn’t pass after the body fell short of the two-thirds majority vote on Sept. 24.
Harrah said this decision is disappointing to the Honors College and YSU because the program contains the most involved students on campus.
“The Honors College has a curriculum and requirements for students, along with research conferences, social events, student organizations and more,” he said. “Because of this, the program has unique perspectives, needs and views that I feel deserve to be represented on SGA.”
Harrah said the hours honors students dedicate to volunteerism would have reflected well on SGA. He said every student is required to do at least 60 hours of volunteerism per year, and the college contributed over 45,000 hours of service last year.
Besides volunteerism, Harrah said the Honors College is creating more engagement for their international population.
“A Global Perspectives Committee was added to the college, and trustees already have many ideas for celebrating national holidays, teaching their cultures and cuisines and embracing the diversity of the community,” he said.
Ernie Barkett, president of SGA, said with more student diversity and the designation of the Honors College as an official college, it would have been beneficial to give it proper representation on the body.
“The SGA constitution states that three representatives at minimum should be given to each college at the university,” Barkett said. “SGA wants the best representation for students, especially as YSU expands.”
Barkett said he hopes the initiative passes in the future, so honors students will have a guaranteed position on SGA’s legislative body.
Amy Cossentino, director of the Honors College, said she is proud of the growth in students and the projects they are managing.
“The growth of the Honors College has allowed it to take volunteer service and community engagement to the next level,” she said. “Students are making a lasting impact through different initiatives.”
Some of these initiatives include Penguin Pen Pals, the Guinathon dance marathon fundraiser and Mats for Mahoning. The second annual “Y Are You Running 5k” is also scheduled for Sept. 30 at the Watson and Tressel Training Site.
“The profits will go to the top male and female finishers who will get to decide what local charity they want to give their winnings to,” Cossentino said. “Last year’s race was successful in raising around $3,000 to Akron Children’s Mahoning County and the Midlothian Free Health Clinic.”