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#ReclaimOSU ends academic year with symbolic protest, promise to return

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#ReclaimOSU protesters rally outside Bricker Hall at Ohio State on April 26. Credit: Nick Roll | For The Lantern

#ReclaimOSU activists rally outside Bricker Hall at Ohio State on April 26.
Credit: Nick Roll | For The Lantern

As the academic year is winding down and coming to an end, so too is a group of student activists — at least for the semester.

Members of the #ReclaimOSU movement, a coalition of student organizations, including Real Food OSU, United Students Against Sweatshops and the Committee for Justice in Palestine, which was there on behalf of OSU Divest, held a final protest for the year outside of Bricker Hall at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

“We wanted to take a final position,” said Maryam Abidi, a third-year in strategic communication and women’s, gender and sexuality studies. “Just because finals are over doesn’t mean the protest is.”

Abidi, who was representing the OSU Coalition for Black Lives, said the protest was symbolic and was organized to let the administration know that it “can’t wait us out.”

“We will be back in the fall,” Abidi said.

Tuesday’s protest was relatively less confrontational than the #ReclaimOSU sit-in inside Bricker Hall on April 6.

The organizers of the sit-in had demands concerning greater transparency and access to the university’s budget and investments.

Abidi said that #ReclaimOSU still stands by its original demands and will organize over the summer to coordinate those demands with the goals of Real Food, USAS and OSU Divest.

Real Food wants a more sustainable food system for university dining services, USAS is opposed to the privatization plan for OSU’s energy management systems, and OSU Divest wants the university to end its investments in companies it says are violating human rights in Palestine.

Members of Real Food, USAS and CJP all spoke as the crowd of about 50 stood on the stairs of Bricker Hall.

The doors to Bricker were locked, and a University Police officer said the building had restricted access on Tuesday. The protesters did not try to enter the building.

The protesters, mostly students, sung songs and chanted outside the building, including one that rhymed “Drake” with “snake,” in a reference to University President Michael Drake. After about 30 minutes, students started to disperse.

#ReclaimOSU protesters leave notes on the steps of Bricker Hall at Ohio State on April 26. Credit: Nick Roll | For The Lantern

#ReclaimOSU activists leave notes on the steps of Bricker Hall at Ohio State on April 26. Credit: Nick Roll | For The Lantern

Before protesters left, they wrote notes expressing their grievances and left them on the stairs outside Bricker Hall for Drake.

Mark Evans, associate vice president for the Office of Administration and Planning, watched the protest and collected the notes and told organizers that Drake would receive them.

One that seemed to sum up the protesters’ concerns was a note that read, “Students will not accept empty dialogue.”

“We will stand with #ReclaimOSU until all our (#ReclaimOSU’s) goals are met, but especially until OSU stops the sellout of our energy management systems,” said Michelle Hablitzel, a fifth-year in geography and international studies and a member of USAS.

Nicolette Yohn, of the Multi-Partisan Coalition, shared the sentiment.

“Our demands are our demands, and we’re not going to compromise on what they are,” the second-year in political science and women’s, gender and sexuality studies told The Lantern.

“For the administration, having a dialogue means giving us 15 minutes of face time and then going with their original decision anyway.”

In a written statement, university spokesman Chris Davey held the position that OSU provides reasonable and fair opportunities for dialogue.

“As a university, we celebrate and work each day to defend the unassailable rights and fundamental freedoms that serve as the foundation of our society,” Davey said in the statement. . “We provide rich and varied platforms that allow members of our community to share and promote their views.”

Correction April 29: A previous version of this article misquoted Michelle Hablitzel. The corrected quote includes her statement that USAS will stand in solidarity with the #ReclaimOSU movement until all #ReclaimOSU goals are met.

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