Andi Hendrickson / Lantern photographer
About three dozen Ohio State students and faculty could be heard loud and clear as they lined High Street in front of the Ohio Union to protest the university’s plan to privatize parking.
“We’re here to show support for the faculty and staff, so they’ll know that we are on their side,” said CJ Jones, a second-year in public affairs. “And also to send the university a clear message that we will not stand for our voices being ignored.”
Protesters distributed fliers Tuesday with President E. Gordon Gee’s telephone number, urging people to call him directly with their complaints.
Gee sent an email April 23 to students, staff and faculty, detailing the administration’s plan and the issuing of a Request for Proposal from companies interested in leasing parking operations. May 30 is the deadline for bids, when the OSU Board of Trustees is expected to make a decision and a recommendation for final approval, Gee said in the email.
The email referenced the university’s RFP to potential vendors, asking for bids for control of parking assets. The minimum bid is supposed to be $375 million for a 50-year lease.
“My expectation is that the $375 (million) is a floor, my expectation is that if we’ve done the right things that we will get a substantially higher bid, so I’m just betting that we’re going to get the $400 million,” Gee told The Lantern.
Don’t Sell Our University, a group of students and community members, sent an email Monday in response, claiming that Gee disregarded opposition to parking privatization. The email referenced a survey that showed 84 percent of OSU faculty oppose parking privatization.
“This (survey) made us realize that students (and) faculty don’t have power,” said Omar Gowayed, a second-year in mechanical engineering and a member of Don’t Sell Our University. “We’re sick and tired of being pushed around and silenced on our own campus.”
Lynda Seelie, an office manager at Drinko Hall, was present at the protest. She said she does not want to see a corporation take over parking or for parking rates to increase by up to 10 percent.
“We already pay too much as it is,” Seelie said.
Jones also expressed concerns about the deal.
“This is a short-sided deal,” Jones said. “It could stand that a faculty member will pay $8,000 a year for a pass in 50 years.”
Some protesters took their actions to Bricker Hall, which holds the offices of Gee and some Board of Trustee members.
Gowayed said he is willing to take necessary action to make his objections known.
“I’ve already told my dad to have lawyers prepared for me,” Gowayed said.