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Protesters occupy the campus, demand administration changes

Amber Evans / Lantern photographer

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Ohio State students and other concerned parties took to the streets this Thursday to express their concerns.

Occupy OSU began at 3 p.m. on 15th Street, just off of High Street. Demonstrators had various motivations for attending the rally, but most shared a common theme: frustration with the university.

 Hutch Persons, a fourth-year in economics and philosophy and an organizer of the protest, shared his dissatisfaction in OSU administrators.

 “Administrators have different interests than the rest of the people,” Persons said.

 Kyle Rawson, a fourth-year in geological sciences, said administrators tend to care more about finances than students.

 “Some of them care about how students perform, but others are more in it for the money,” Rawson said. “I think it’s gotten away from what the students’ interests are and what’s beneficial for the students.”

 At 3:30 p.m. the demonstrators began their march around campus, first walking through the Ohio Union and breaking its usual silence with chants, noisemakers and homemade drums.

 “Not a corporation, public education” and “O-H-I-O corporate greed has got to go” were among the numerous chants shouted by the mobilized group.

 Jon Holmes, a first-year PhD student in English, said the Occupy movement protests around the world against “corporate greed” are relevant at OSU.

 “I think that the way it seems most directly related to Ohio State is in terms of issues in student debt and the whole way that we finance higher education in this country and how detrimental that is for a large population of the student body, but particularly anybody who’s coming from a lower income background,” Holmes said.

Rawson also expressed his frustrations with the price of a college education.

“I’m tired of the student loan debt,” he said. “I think education should be free and I’m tired of seeing corporations run our country.”

Ikran Warsame, a fourth-year in political science, said she has seen an increase in tuition and is concerned for students’ futures.

“We’re protesting against the tuition rate,” Warsame said. “I just don’t like how when I started the tuition was $2,600 and now its $3,200, and I’m graduating so I feel bad for the classes that are coming in. It’s going to be close to impossible to get a college education if tuition rates keep increasing.”

Deb Steele, a 2003 Ohio State graduate in sociology, attended the rally because of her disagreement with the possible decision to privatize OSU parking. She carried a sign that read, “Wall Street loves privatization of your parking lots.”

“I’m pretty concerned about (OSU President E.) Gordon Gee moving to privatize the parking lots and we don’t need Wall Street greed coming to campus,” Steele said. “This is a mobile thing. People are angry, so here we’re taking the street. These people are trying to show their frustration with our broken system that seems to reward the rich at the expense of the middle class.”

Steele said some protestors attended a town hall meeting that members of the Parking Advisory Committee, the Undergraduate Student Government, the Council of Graduate Students and the Interprofessional Council held on Nov. 9, in the Ohio Union to address concerns about the future of OSU’s parking.

“No one has convinced me that parking is central to the academic life of the university. But a 9-by-11 parking space represents a lot of scholarships, a lot of opportunities,” Gee said to attendees at the town hall, The Lantern reported.

Steele said she was unsatisfied with Gee’s response and referred to it as “spin.”

The protestors marched through the Ohio Union, down College Avenue, through the Oval, down Neil Avenue, up Lane Avenue and eventually walked on High Street and blocked two lanes of traffic.

Each time the group occupied a road, they repeatedly shouted, “Whose street? Our street!”

Police officers followed every step of the march. Five police cars drove closely behind the crowd as it made its way down High Street, occasionally sounding their sirens in an attempt to control the demonstrators.

Sounjanette Hagan, a second-year in political science at Columbus State University, participated in walking on High Street.

“I decided to walk down High Street today just because I am an advocate for social justice and it’s about time we come together seeing as though we are the future,” Hagan said. “I wasn’t really worried about getting arrested just because I knew that we’d be able to get things under control.”

Persons said the Occupy movement will not stop anytime in the near future at OSU.

“We hope to begin to take on projects and make real concrete changes on the way our campus operates,” Persons said.

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