Buckeye Girls State and Ashland go their separate ways

By Justine Ackerman

Ashland University will no longer be the summer home to Buckeye Girls State (BGS), an Ohio’s Girls State program dedicated to educating young women in the qualities of good leadership and citizenship, as stated on the BGS website.

“The change was primarily due to a cost issue,” said Dean Bloxham, coordinator of Buckeye Girls State. “We were looking at having to pay more down the road to stay in Ashland.”

Jim Misel, general manager of catering and conferences at Ashland University, did not wish to comment on AU’s prices for any programs, including BGS. However, he did say that prices had not changed much.

BGS is designed to be a hands-on experience for young women who want to learn the inner-workings of local and state-run governments, as stated on the BGS website. Students who have been involved with BGS on Ashland’s campus say that it wasn’t just the governmental side of it that made the experience wonderful.

Brooke Thayer went to Buckeye Girls State as a junior in high school. She is now a junior at Gettysburg College, but says Ashland University will always have a place in her heart.

“I loved Buckeye Girls State,” Thayer said. “The fact that it was at Ashland University was a great advantage. Ashland is a small school where the campus was easy… to navigate, the food was delicious, my dorm room was comfortable and all of the facilities were wonderful. Losing Ashland as the home to BGS is sad for me.”

According to the BGS website, attending BGS also opens doorways to awards, honors and scholarships for young women across the state of Ohio.

One of the scholarships that a BGS participant could apply for was the Buckeye Girls State Scholarship from Ashland University, where a young woman who attended BGS and enrolled at AU would be eligible for a $1,000.00 scholarship, according to the AU grant and scholarships website.

“The students who were part of BGS this past summer would be going into their senior year [of high school],” said Stephen Howell, director of financial aid. “The BGS grant offered for those students going into college in 2011 will be honored. Students who attend BGS next summer at Mount Union will not qualify for BGS grant.”

However, BGS will now be housed at the University of Mount Union, starting in the summer of 2011.

Many campuses were looked at for the housing of BGS, including The Ohio State University and Toledo University, said Bloxham. After narrowing the search down to either the University of Mount Union or Ashland University, prices were evaluated.

“Both campuses fit the program very well,” Bloxham said. “We have been in Ashland for 13 years and the campus fit us very well. When we looked at the cost issue, that’s what gave Mount Union the advantage and that was decided by the BGS board of directors.”

“We [BGS and AU] shared a great relationship over the years,” Misel said. “We never want to see a group leave, but it’s not unusual…especially in the conference with business, a lot of them travel around the state. [BGS] was here for a long time and there’s nothing that says they won’t be back.”

Thayer says that she wouldn’t have wanted her experience to be anywhere but at AU and that it prepared her for college life.

“I didn’t know a single soul when I first stepped onto my college campus but I wasn’t nervous because I knew that I would make friends easily and would have a blast, just like at BGS,” Thayer said. “I’m sad that future groups of girls won’t be able to swarm on the Eagle’s Nest buying comfort food and trying to flirt with boys. Ashland became my home and I know that all the girls that were in my group, as well as myself, still think it with the fondest memories.”