A group of faculty members at Ohio State have drafted a letter of solidarity on Thursday claiming they stand with the students who staged a sit-in at Bricker Hall Wednesday night. They intend to present the letter and accompanying signatures to University President Michael Drake.
The writers of the letter condemned members of OSU’s administration for the way they reportedly handled the situation.
At 8 p.m. the OSU Police Twitter account tweeted that “accommodations (have been) made for #ReclaimOSU students already inside to stay overnight” and that they “can leave at any time.”
Despite that tweet, some students claimed they were threatened with expulsion or removal by force.
“To deal with a peaceful student protest with police is shameful. To try to starve students out of a building is an embarrassment,” the letter states. “To threaten expulsion for civil disobedience is unethical.“
At 2:20 p.m., the letter had more than 130 signatures from staff, faculty and graduate students. Signatures are still being added.
Student organizations involved in the sit-in on Wednesday night included Real Food OSU, United Students Against Sweatshops, Still We Rise, OSU Coalition for Black Lives and the Committee for Justice in Palestine. The organizations rallied behind the hashtag #ReclaimOSU on Twitter.
Real Food OSU and OSU Divest said they want OSU to provide full access to the annual budget and a financial adviser to detail exactly where those funds are being spent and what corporations OSU is supporting.
The coalition’s second demand is that the administration agrees to one of the three campaigns proposed by different organizations — Real Food OSU, United Students Against Sweatshops or OSU Divest — as a sign of good faith to continue working with the coalition, as stated in its press release.
Leslie Alexander, an associate professor in African American and African studies whose name appears among the list of those standing in support of the students, said the goal is to get as many signatures as possible before the students hold a press conference outside Bricker Hall so that students would be aware of the degree of faculty support.
“We’re still in the process of collecting signatures. We’re getting quite a lot,” she said at about 2:30 p.m., adding that signatures will probably continue to be collected if new signatories continue to show support.
“The more faculty members you have who are willing to acknowledge the fact that it’s inappropriate for the administration to use violence and intimidation toward students, the more attention it will hopefully bring to the issue,” she said.
Following the sit-in, at about 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, the university said in a statement, “after repeated discussions and warnings, the group chose to disperse on their own volition. They were not removed.”
That statement also said OSU made accommodations for students to assemble peacefully, noting that Bricker Hall closes at 5:30 p.m. and that students were able to leave the building at their will.
“Ohio State has a vibrant community of students, faculty and staff who work together through an active and effective structure of shared governance,” the statement said. “The methods employed by this group were outside the scope of permitted practices. We actively encourage dialogue with students on a wide variety of issues. We remain committed to all parties interested in meaningful discourse and in contributing to the excellence of our university.”
Update April 7: This story was updated at 3:35 p.m. on April 7.