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Student group protests apparel deal at Board of Trustees meeting

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A group of protesters against a proposed single-source apparel contract with Dallas Cowboys Silver Star Merchandising interrupted Friday’s Ohio State Board of Trustees meeting

The students from OSU’s United Students Against Sweatshops wanted to know why President E. Gordon Gee and the board had not yet eliminated the possibility of a deal between OSU and Silver Star.

Gee told the students he would give them five minutes then they would be asked to leave, peacefully. After several minutes one student was denied re-entry to collect her bag.

Robert Battista, an OSU student protesting the deal, asked Gee to pledge that he would bar the proposed contract and any further negotiations with the company.

Battista said the company violated their workers’ rights in sweatshop conditions.

Battista, a member of USAS, said not all protesters were in the club or even students.

“Some were from other student groups as part of a coalition and there were also community members (and) alumni in attendance as well,” he said in an email following the protest.

“Please understand that we will do what is in the best interest of the university as faculty, staff and students,” Gee said, noting that he has met with the student group to discuss the matter.

University spokesman Jim Lynch said in an email that “university leaders” have met with students concerned about labor rights issues “at least a dozen times over the past two years.”

“We appreciate their passion and input, which has strengthened our process,” he said.

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