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University Address interrupted by protests against energy privatization

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Credit: Ed Momot | For The Lantern

Credit: Ed Momot | For The Lantern

Ohio State University President Michael Drake was interrupted Thursday afternoon while delivering his State of the University Address in the Moritz Law School.

More than 20 members of the OSU chapter of the United Students Against Sweatshops filed into the William B. Saxbe Law Auditorium and delivered a speech voicing their views on the impending energy plan.

The university is currently considering proposals from private groups that might meet OSU’s sustainability goals and energy operation standards, as part of an energy management plan.

The winning partner will be tasked with maintenance, upkeep and operation of the campus’ energy systems, including electricity, natural gas, chilled-water cooling systems and steam-generated heating systems.

“We the students of Ohio State University are calling upon our president to hear our voices. Administrators are putting corporate profit over education, selling off energy systems to fossil fuel corporations through a secret process that lacks transparency,” the group said in unison.

Credit: Ed Momot | For The Lantern

Credit: Ed Momot | For The Lantern

The protesters continued to express their opposition to the potential environmental threats and the possibility of jobs leaving Columbus.

“It will not save the environment. Ohio State will burn more fossil fuel,” the group said during the protest. “It is a threat to the budgets of departments, and faculty might be charged an energy bill. And it is an attack on campus workers who will lose decent jobs and benefits.”

Lainie Rini, a recent graduate of OSU, was involved in USAS last semester and remains active in its planning and execution of events, including this protest during Drake’s address.

“Not only are we upset because we would no longer have any control over where Ohio State gets its sources from, or that we don’t have control over whether its renewable resources,” Rini said. “We are also very upset about the possibility of Ohio State, when they do sell out, firing all of their workers who make decent wages, get good benefits, and are long-time residents of Columbus who would now be put out of a job.”

The organization planned various protests and demonstrations around campus during Autumn Semester concerning its dissatisfaction with the talks of the comprehensive energy plan.

Drake acknowledged the group during the question-and-answer session after finishing his address.

“I must say there is no plan,” he said. “We are still in the phase of talking with potential partners about things that might happen, but we don’t know what that is.”

Drake also commented on the notions made in the speech regarding the environmental implications, praising OSU’s efforts to remain an environmentally friendly school and  stating that the university is committed to decreasing its carbon footprint.

Chris Davey, an OSU spokesman, told The Lantern that the students who interrupted the State of the University Address had been given ample opportunities to voice their disagreement.

“To suggest that students do not have a voice in this process is not supported by the facts. It is unclear with all of this opportunity to meaningfully participate why these students would find the need to shout,” he said. “The comprehensive energy management project team has met with them already and listened to their concerns and answered their questions. One of their leaders asked questions at the recent University Staff Advisory Committee Town Hall … They asked to be on the University Senate agenda and are scheduled to speak at the Steering Committee.”

Rini said there are many more events in store for the upcoming semester.
“From our point of view, the democratic process never worked in our favor,” Rini said. “The democratic process doesn’t listen to our voice, and if it does, it only gives us a small bit of representation before (the process) decides to go along with what everyone wants to do anyways.”


  1. “To suggest that students do not have a voice in this process is not supported by the facts.”

    There is a difference between having a voice and having a vote.

    What matters is that those who vote PAY ATTENTION to the voices. (Not just listen, smile and say “Thank you for your concern”, then proceed to vote the way they intended all along.)

    • Miriam you could not be more correct. I think that all the students should get the opportunity to vote on whether OSU does things like this. If they vote and they allow for the selling of the Energy upkeep then so be it, but I feel that students were already fed up when the privatized the parking and gave it to Campus Parc, I am pretty sure they wouldn’t let that happen a second time.

      • The problem is that students DO have a vote in University government, but the leadership of the student governments are either spineless (and usually controlled by Student Life) or more worried about their own future careers at OSU (or the hope of getting a job via recommendation for towing the line) that they vote in line with the admins and the student body seldom has any idea.

        Also, there is the other issue that USG is run by the Greek system (which is also propped up by Student Life) and is in no way actually representative of the student body of OSU anyway.

  2. 27 years and tired

    There was a time when it seemed like this university cared about the very people that keep it running, and I’m not referring to those that make high six figure salaries! I’m referring to those people paying to go to school here. I’m referring to the Alumni who donate so much money. AND I’m referring to the minions working long hours “doing more with less” because our budgets have been slashed so much that we can’t afford to hire enough people to do the additional work created, due to the additional policies/procedures created by those high six figure salary individuals. Since when did Higher Education become a Corporation?! Can we get back to caring about those people occupying this campus everyday, instead of selling out to the highest bidder, PLEASE?!

    • Low man on totem pole

      “27 years and tired,” you are so correct! I am one of those “minions” that keep a part of the operation running. We do so much more with less. Additionally, our department has drifted from its core mission to being all about the numbers and different metrics. Its insane. People are burned out from the forced overtime that we are losing veteran staff members. Our management doesnt care in the slightest.

  3. I smell the Koch brothers from Kansas in both cases. The want to get a foothold on all the campuses across the country. They profit from the continued use of fossil fuel, which is destroying the world’s climate. Once they have energy control of the campus, they will use it as leverage to control other areas, like curriculum and/or using the university schools to promote their right wing agendas..

    • Koch brothers. The university is now run by a left wing, west coast liberal. All the higher ups on tenure are liberals. Can’t blame conservative that your leaching, elite govt workers making millions and then raising tuition are because of business owners. This is your elite. Now go elect your billionaire Hillary who take money from Saudia Arabia and charges schools 250k to speak at their events.

      • The president of the university does not run it. Nor does the faculty. State universities are run by state legislatures, and for the past decade they have been converting universities to a corporate business model of operation. That’s why there are so many more administrators making 6-figure salaries, boosting tuition. That’s also why there is such an emphasis on metrics, and other forms of measurable outcomes. Workers are asked to do more with less, there is less worker security, a move away from tenure, greater use of part-time untenured faculty and grad students for teaching. All of this is harmful to education, but great for the bottom line.

      • Jney: LOL Billary is nothing more than Republican-lite. Until gerrymandering and Citizens United are destroyed, this country’s politics will never reflect the majority. Just the billionaires, corporations and the financial institutions. The Lantern reported last fall that the Kochs wanted to contribute to the College of Business at The Ohio State University. They are busy across the nation at other universities and colleges as well, trying to advance their agenda. As for the liberal stripes of Ohio State(?), you only have to look at the Board of Trustees who are the real movers and shakers.

        Leaching elite government workers? I would have to agree with that if you are talking about Congress. And for now, most of them are the conservatives you voted for.

        Feel the Bern.


    • Koch brothers? Soros puts his millions into destroying America. He’s the one who bragged about assisting Nazis to steal possessions of fellow Jews. He’s the one you should be worrying about.

      • Actually the Kochs have a family history with ties to Soviet Russia in the early 20th century. They tried to own and control their oil reserves until the Soviets got wise and kicked them out of the country. Soros or Koch or Trump, billionaires are billionaires, whether left or right. None of them have any integrity or morals. That’s why it’s time to Feel the Bern.

  4. Wrong. Students have a vote, they have the most important vote. They can take their money and leave.

  5. Really?! When did this group become spokespersons for all OSU students? They said, “We the students of Ohio State University….”

    Corporate profiteering? I don’t think so. Who gains from the University’s privatization/outsourcing savings vs. in-house provision? Students do! For instance, look for more numerous and increased amounts of scholarships and grant, plans for discounted tuition during summers, limited if any increases in tuition, and more. OSU is a top research 1 university in the country and provides one of the most affordable educations among other institutions of its high caliber.

    Jobs? CampusParc hired many of our OSU employees for their knowledge and local experience. The University made a point of finding other positions with comparable compensation here for others

    A student who already has graduated having a voice as a student? A non-student with seriously limited ability to speak grammatically, claiming to represent all OSU students? Nah! President Drake was being remarkably generous and patient.

    Blush, blush, folks! This protest group simply has to do better than this!

    • I would like to see the evidence of the profits from a once public service being reinvested to the direct benefit of the students. This means higher cost due to the need for profit and no public oversight for rate increases or service.
      The cost of a public education is already beyond the means of most in state residence. There should be a public review of tOSU to make sure privatization is in keeping with the goals of a low cost public education.

    • I want what you’re smoking! You’re clearly either brainwashed by Fox News propaganda or you profit from privatization of government entities.

      No private business can offer a public service for the same price and value as a government agency. Can you send a letter via UPS or FedEx for 49 cents? No!

      The money that OSU garnered from the sale of parking to CampusCrap was squandered immediately on an over budget South Campus geothermal well as well as a North Campus dorm project that was over budget. The university doesn’t care about extra scholarships or freezing tuition when their propaganda outreach team makes everyone think this is the greatest university in the world – it isn’t.

      CampusCrap has fired most of the former OSU employees in favor of lower cost replacements. CampusCrap only hires minimum wage, part time employees with no benefits, further lowering the per capita income of Columbus residents. The university would have NEVER found jobs for those smart enough to stay at OSU if the union hadn’t told them they had to or be in violation of the contract. Those who took other jobs at OSU were only guaranteed a percentage of their wage (I believe 75%) in a new department – still a significantly better outcome than those who jumped ship and were circled by the vultures of crony capitalism.

      The students are being raked over coals every year with CampusCrap’s huge price increases and reassignments of parking areas to higher tiered passes. The students are realizing that selling utility rights WILL GUARANTEE higher rates for housing and higher instructional fees to pay for the utilities used.

      The university sold out to snake oil salesmen and other charlatans when they hired back E Gordon Gee. Drake is nothing but a spineless puppet to further the soulless agenda of a money crazed public college. Can the Department of Education PLEASE revoke OSUs status as a Land Grant Institution? They are certainly not acting like a public servant. Not with their insider tactics, shady business deals, and ridiculously high acceptance standards. OSU is supposed to be the state university for ALL Ohio students, not just the smart few that can compete with the rest of the world whose students seem to get top priority.

      What a shame. After all that, I really do need some of Irish2OSU’s smoke… he’s got the good stuff.

      • The USPS service runs millions of dollars in loss every year which a private company can’t do. But UPS still sends a package cheaper than USPS. What government agency runs more efficiently than private entities?

        • Yeah, the private sector never gets entitlements, tax incentives, or bailouts. LOL Tell that to the auto industry, the major banks, and oil companies and they will laugh in your face. They own the government thanks to gerrymandering and money bribes to Republican Congress. The Postal Service is just another one of their targets to privatize and own everything. Wake up!!!

  6. I am so happy to learn that students are becoming active in the future of OSU.
    The Administration has been selling (L-T Lease) the public assets of our great university.
    You do not see the money being used to reduce the cost of the students’ education.
    As much as I love OSU footlball, I must admit that the actions of the tOSU and the salaries being paid and the money being made and not to the benefit of the student tells me that our great institution is now being raped for profit.
    Keep up the protest … they will find a lot of support

  7. During the last two weeks of November, a grassroots survey of all ASC regular and emeritus faculty was conducted by an anonymous group of ASC Faculty. The survey was also done on a strictly anonymous basis and only open to ASC faculty.

    There were about 560 respondents. One of the questions addressed exactly this issue. Here is the ‘question’ (presenting the administration’s position), and the responses.

    “Q8: The idea of ‘monetizing’ OSU’s assets (e.g., the recent 50-year lease of the parking facilities, and the planned sale of OSU’s power plants and power grid), is a good one.”

    Responses (552 for this particular question)

    Strongly Disagree: 56%
    Disagree: 20.5%
    Neutral: 15.8%
    Agree: 6.5%
    Strongly Agree: 1.3%

    The full results of this survey have been placed in the public domain, and are available at:


    • What would you expect from the liberal faculty who have so little confidence in their abilities to do a job right that they have to be protected by tenure.

  8. Love it when these liberal elites have to now die by they whining culture they created. A culture that is “me me me me “. Just like the idiot liberals in Hollywood eating their own. Millionaires mad because they didn’t get nominated for a gold statue and claiming their 13% of the population isn’t getting represented at the liberal home of influence, Hollywood. OSU hires another liberal President and soon they will ban Christmas cards and kids will protest Halloween as racist to pumpkins.

  9. I love how the school will give “$1,500” in tuition help. WOW. Really. That will REALLY help low income students with a $21,703 tuition and room and board bill. I mean, WOW, really, that’s going to be a BIG help…..now they only need to come up with $20,000!!!!!!!!!!

    And once again, all this new income and yet staff will be lucky to get a 1.5% raise in September, while the faculty and administration will get thousands!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Most faculty in my department also consider themselves lucky if they get a 1.5% raise. Many haven’t had raises reaching that level for many years. In this respect, faculty and staff suffer the same fate at the hands of the administration.

        You understand that we can actually look up faculty salaries since its public information, right? They aren’t starving, I can tell you that much.
        Its public education, and they shouldn’t expect to get rich.
        Thats the problem with higher ed, if its not administrators and trustees sucking it dry, its faculty sitting back with tenure doing nothing about it (but definitely constantly whining) and expecting their cut.
        Faculty have the most seats on University Senate.
        If they wanted to change the University, they could.
        But they don’t even show up to the Senate meetings to vote half the time.
        But all they care about is putting in the least amount of effort to get tenure and then constant complaints about compensation.
        How’s that been working for them?

  10. I read some of the comments appearing in that survey mentioned above. Now, on the one hand, selling off parts of a public institution created to serve the public good could be viewed as a betrayal of the principles on which that institution was founded.

    But principles and ethics aside, does such an action make “good business sense”?

    A legitimate question. The following comment to Q.8 caught my attention. I think it answers that question in a very clear way.

    [from a survey respondent]

    “…the people who want to run Ohio State “like a business” are doing something no healthy, well-run business would do, which is sell off its assets. A business would monetize its assets only if it was in a desperate financial situation. The only possible explanation for this behavior is that the administration is interested in their short-term ability to initiate glossy new programs that will enhance their resumes, but they are not invested in the long-term health of this institution. The imminent departure of the Provost for a higher position at a less-prestigious institution underscores this point perfectly.”

  11. The notion that state universities like OSU are run by liberal elites is a myth. They are run by boards of trustees, who are political appointees – very largely Republicans in the case of OSU, and by senior administrators who are either appointed by or approved of by these trustees, many of whom come from a big business background. Most of the senior administrators I know are centrists, and many of them are Republicans. More and more they speak the language of business. Furthermore the balance of power has steadily shifted from faculty to professional administrators, including accountants, lawyers, HR specialists, etc., whose population has been growing at more than 10 times the rate of the faculty. The Fox news trolls spitting out their usual drivel about liberal elites just reveal how very little then know about what is actually happening at OSU. But Fox trolls are rarely concerned with reality, just their anger and hate filled mythologies.

    • This is so on point. Thats for helping to get the word out.
      Kasich appointees run this University, they are the ones that hired Dr. Drake, and they are the ones pushing the privatization agenda… well them and a bunch of brainwashed faculty Senators determined to secure themselves a cushy overpaid administrative post.

      Me? I’m holding out for management, Clark.

      • Considering that over 43% of our legislators belong to ALEC and Kasich is a founding member of ALEC says it all. There mission is to privatize everything. Especially the Universities and Colleges across America. The laws that they are quietly passing makes all of this possible. The board of trustees are comprised of businesses and Federal Reserve Bank members. The hiring of a former JP Morgan Chase, VP as the CFO and a former AIG Vice President as the OSU VP for Human Resources says it all. OSU has extension centers in all 88 counties. To have Monsanto’s tied into the 4H groups in all 88 counties tells us how well organized they are. The coded language and deceit in advertising makes it extremely difficult for students or anyone to immediately decipher what is really going on. The bottomlune is that ALEC, the legislators and anyone who has supported privatization must and should be charged with Treason and corruption exactly as Elizabeth Warren and a few others have stressed. We are not having an economic collapse but an ongoing Systematic raping and the if of our federal and state budgets by the same International bankers and Wall Street thugs that Kasich has been working with for years. I found it interesting to note that when the late Paul Weyrich ( KKK/John Birch Society) founded ALEC in 1974 he also founded the Moral Right that same year along with the late Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and other members of the Christian Right. They now include the Zionist Jewry and Christian political movements that also have the support of Sheldon Adelson, the Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity and other billionaires supporting local groups in our city and on campus. Look at how long Buckeye Institute has been around. People are waking up.

  12. Our survey team has created a blog site in which one of the topics of focus is the privatization issue discussed above. The URL is:


    The Faculty Survey Team

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