Senate Bill 5, Sodexo, and commencement speaker John Boehner, have got to go says the many student voices that comprise the progressive coalition of about 10 student groups and organizations at OSU.
The coalition which began forming in April after a group of OSU students attended Power Shift in Washington, D.C., a weekend rally that supports clean energy initiatives and promotes youth action, is comprised of various student supporters and organizations including: Graduate Employees and Student’s Organization (GESO), Oxfam America, United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), Women and Allies Rising in Resistance (WARR) and Vox: Voices of Planned Parenthood.
The first large event the coalition planned was Live Against Five on May 26, where students, faculty, speakers, bands, and political representatives gathered at the great hall meeting rooms in the Ohio Union to speak out against Senate Bill 5, the law that restricts collective bargaining for state employees, and other issues concerning workers rights.
“We are a working group, a progressive coalition, and this is our coming out party,” said event coordinator Stuart McIntyre, third-year in political science.
Some of those in attendance were Ohio House of Representatives Minority Leader, Armond Budish (D), House Representatives Tracy Maxwell Heard (D) and Nancy Garland (D), and Reverend Joel King, the first cousin of Martin Luther King Jr.
“This is part of the battle for the heart and soul of middle class Americans,” said Representative Budish-D, “this is the most extreme right winged attack on people of middle class Ohio we have seen to date and Senate Bill 5 and the state budget are the cornerstone of this attack.”
Reverend King echoed the sentiments of Rep. Budish and went on to compare the arrests of the nine students who protested Sodexo outside of President E. Gordon Gee’s office on May 23, to the Little Rock Nine, the nine black students who helped end segregation in the Little Rock, Ark., public school district.
“I remember when the nine got arrested in Arkansas, it took the young people to make a difference in this country then, just like it does now. We need to appeal to the young generation, because we are tired of being tired,” Reverend King said.
Third-year in psychology, Adrian Jusdanis was one of those arrested at the Sodexo sit in and is also part of the coalition.
“Sodexo is one example of workers not having rights and teachers and other government workers are going to experience the same struggles if SB5 is not overturned,” says Jusdanis.
“Students need to learn about these issues and how they are affecting the people around us,” he said.
So far campus petitioners have gathered about 800 signatures for the SB5 referendum from the university district, says SB5 campus coordinator, Joey Longley.
The next scheduled event by the progressive coalition is an alternative spring commencement, in protest of commencement speaker John Boehner, United States Speaker of the House.
“Boehner is in against federal funding of public education and supports taking away federal Pell-grants. Many of the students walking at commencement Sunday would not have been able to go to college let alone graduate without these,” said alternative commencement coordinator Pat O’Donnell, forth-year in materials sciences and engineering.
Alternative commencement is scheduled to begin with protests the morning of June 12 outside of Ohio Stadium and it will end with a rally at 5 p.m. in Independence Hall, where there will be speakers and live music.
However, there will be no diplomas awarded at this event, students must attend official commencement to receive them.
“This is an event that is for everyone, even those who are attending graduation, that is why we scheduled the rally for afterward. So far we haven’t received any opposition from OSU administration,” says O’Donnell.