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Students stage sit-in for university transparency

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Ohio State students join together in front of President Michael Drake’s office during in a sit-in at Bricker Hall on April 6. Credit: Mitch Hooper / For The Lantern

Ohio State students join together in front of President Michael Drake’s office during in a sit-in at Bricker Hall on April 6. Credit: Mitch Hooper / For The Lantern

What began as a student rally that started outside of Thompson Library at about 3:30 p.m. turned into a sit-in in front of University President Michael Drake’s office Wednesday evening.

Speakers inside Bricker Hall talked about being “silenced” by the administration when trying to make changes through their organizations.

Student organizations involved in the sit-in 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 proposed campaigns — 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.

“Several campaigns have been launched this year, and Real Food has been fighting for their campaign the last two years to get ethical sourcing for food on campus,” said Justice Harley, a first-year in African-American and African studies who was participating and involved in the sit-in. “These campaigns have been repeatedly denied by administration and (Undergraduate Student Government). Some students and community members feel they don’t have a voice on campus and don’t have a say in where the tuition money goes or what the university does with that money.”

The university said in a statement that the group’s occupation of Bricker Hall was illegal, as the building closes at 5:30 p.m., adding that participants had “repeated discussions and warnings.”

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,” the statement read. “We remain committed to all parties interested in meaningful discourse and in contributing to the excellence of our university. As a society and as a university, we have rules that are in place to protect the very freedoms these individuals were exercising, and these protections and rights also extend to our staff as they work on the important business of the university.

At the student rally at Thompson Library, several students gathered to speak out regarding issues of transparency and giving a voice to those who feel silenced. Three speakers used the time to inform rally attendees about their organizations about the demands outlined in the open letter.

Police denied any outside access after the building closed at 5:30 p.m. and protesters in the building were not allowed to open the doors or receive food from those outside. A group of about 25 protesters gathered outside the south doors and began chanting.

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.

However, Shell Sindle, a third-year in anthropology and criminology and the protest’s organizer, said, “We refuse to leave until our demands are met and are prepared to stay in the building for as long as it takes.”

“OSU Divest wants to divest from companies like Caterpillar, G4S and HP,” Sindle said. “Being able to see where the money is going would help us be able to build our campaigns against that.”

Pranav Jani, an associate professor of English, spoke to the protesters inside of Bricker Hall, where he encouraged students to exercise their right to free speech.

“I think we either have free speech or we don’t,” Jani said. “If we can’t be a part of a campus community coming out like this, not doing anything wrong and not being violent to anyone, if we can’t do that, what do we have here? The movement is all about nonviolence and taking a stand to bring people together.”

At midnight, sit-in participants had gathered at the Bricker Hall doors facing the Oval, chanting, “We’ll be back.”

Shortly thereafter, students began breaking down tents and dispersing.

Michael Huson contributed to this article.

Update April 7: This story was updated at 12:50 a.m. on April 7, 2016.

35 comments

  1. As an OSU alum, I emplore the administration to refuse to stand behind OSU Divest. This group is an uninformed organization spreading lies about Israel. I will be deeply ashamed of my Alma Mater if they bend to the demands of this group.

    • Yeah, no. Every statement that OSU Divest has made is backed up with video and documentation from the UN, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International.

      Try again, ya brainwashed dolt.

      • As an Asian student, I have to laugh. OSUDivest, as far as I know, has never once said a word about any other illegal occupation in the world. Why have you not called for divestment of Chinese interests from the university over the 7 decade occupation of Tibet? Are you obsessed with Israel to the point of blindness to all other human rights abuses? Is Chinese blood money ok by you because there’s a lot more of it? Or is it because we’re “just Asian”?

        Try again, ya hypocritical dolt.

      • UN is corrupt, morally bankrupt, biased against Israel, blind to the facts presented to it. You are guilty of allowing your brain to be washed.

    • You mean the “lie” about the Palestinian who was laying injured in the street a week ago when an Israeli soldier just nonchalantly shot him in the head, killing him? Or, the “lie” about Israel repeatedly just flat out ignoring UN Resolutions demanding that Israel stop building settlements on Palestinian lands? Or the “lie” about the mass punishments (bulldozing of innocent Palestinian homes)?. I got news for ya, buddy. My entire family and heritage is Jewish but that doesn’t mean you flat out ignore what is in essence terrorism against the Palestinians. The Palestinians are being slaughtered and there is one party and one party alone responsible for the killings: Israel. It’s time to stop the mass murder, theft of land and on and on, ad naseum.

      • For you to not realize that immigrants occupy Israel in a place they call palestine (does not legitimize their claim to a nationality, or a state), makes me question your motive here.
        Your level of propaganda and disinformation is astounding–I seriously doubt you are Jewish as you do not appreciate the amount of constant terror threat this country of Israel is under.
        I am happy to see Israel not tolerate threats to their country or their citizens, with the highest necessary force needed. Historically, Israel is not the aggressor.

    • What is “emplore”?

  2. David G nailed it concerning OSU Divest. Be very careful tOSU and don’t make a statement too quickly to accommodate this organization by making promises without knowing the “real” facts. In other words, don’t come across like some of these other universities where in many cases end-up looking like fools across the nation .

    BSME ’93

  3. And I would ask that the administration DO sign the Real Food Challenge, calling for 20 percent of the university’s food purchases to be “real food,” meaning food that is local or community-based, fair, ecologically sound or humane. 20 percent is an incredibly reasonable goal, and if we care about sustainability, we should be stocking dining halls with real food.

  4. And I would urge that the administration DO sign onto the Real Food Challenge, which calls for 20 percent of the university’s food purchases to be “real food,” meaning food that is local or community-based, fair, ecologically sound or humane. 20 percent is a completely reasonable goal, and if we are a university that cares about sustainability, we should be serving real food in all the dining areas.

  5. If you want someone to go through the books, you better hire him yourself. I don’t want a dollar of my tuition money going to this idiocy.

    • Well thankfully you won’t have to worry about that since we don’t know where the tuition money goes thanks to OSU’s refusal to share budget info.

    • David: What a riot…believe me, you don’t have to worry, even for an instant, about the possibility of “a dollar of your tuition money going to this idiocy” simply BECAUSE most of your tuition is already earmarked for the excessive, bloated, extravagant, and illegitimate salaries of the administrators as well as other excess, illegitimate “costs” that students pay. Believe me, no administrator is going to divert money from his or her salary to pay for audits, oversight, or investigations. LOL. As I and others have mentioned before, the escalation in the costs of “higher education” is so extreme, statistically speaking, really there is no reasonable doubt that something untoward (improper) has gone on here based on objective ECONOMICS. Furthermore it is not a coincidence that education costs have skyrocketed during the same period when the share of national income going to the top 1% has increased from about 10% to nearly 25%. That is, there has been a huge transfer of income and wealth from lower and middle income students’ families to “administrators” just like the one who was threatening the students. Personally, I think the students are fools and show poor judgement. I would never tolerate the degree of in your face theft that a $25,000 tuition bill (or worse) represents. If the students were intelligent, they would get themselves organized and tell the Administration in plain English: You know what? The economics are irrational…why in the World am I going into debt for the rest of my life to get an education and particularly why do I have to literally subsidize these enormous salaries of administrators who not only do nothing but now literally threaten to ruin me if I open my mouth. Wake up dummies…you are being taken!!!

  6. Criminal trespass has nothing to do with the “right to peaceful assembly & petition for redress of grievances.” Moreover, while all possess a right to speak, all also have a duty to speak with truth and civility. Many support causes or agendas, but few causes and agendas are worthy of support.

    Last I knew, the entire University Budget was available at the Main Library for anyone to peruse and study. However, as I retired several years ago, this may have been changed.

  7. The current administration has made a mockery of transparency. They spread lies about current and former students and faculty at will, ignore the needs of students, and line their pockets with bonuses. tOSU hasn’t concerned itself with “real facts” for the last couple of years.

  8. I firmly agree with what they were doing (not everything they stand for). However, they are cowards. When the organizer says they’ll stay “as long as it takes” to be heard, they really shouldn’t pack up and go 6 hours later. I guess the fear of being arrested and expelled trumped standing behind their beliefs and goals; can’t have that on the permanent record when trying to get a job, now, can we?

    • The police threatened them with expulsion and jail time at midnight instead of allowing them to stay until 5am. They are college students, usually POC who couldn’t afford to have that on their record- or don’t have bail money. Don’t be so closed minded. They are doing everything they can without putting their futures at risk.

      • I simply expect them to live up to their own stated aims. Again, staying “as long as it takes” implies real commitment. Scattering like quail at the first sign of consequences implies a temper tantrum. If you’re gonna stage a sit-in, understand what that means and follow through. I get that there are a lot of people who can’t make bail or have an expulsion on their record…and those people should not take part. The really serious ones should be prepared to handle whatever comes.

  9. The first two comments here are very clearly “astroturf.” (FAKE GRASSROOTS). Drake’s and Wadsworth’s goons hired by the same cartel that attacked Jon Waters are out to protect their OSU plants. They are personally invested in or tied to many of the companies that DIVEST is attacking. So is Battelle where Wadsworth works.

  10. I firmly believe in protesting, though I don’t agree with all of their stances. However, they are cowards. The organizer promises to “stay as long as it takes, then they all leave, cowed by the potential negative consequences. None of them have the courage of their convictions, and their movement SHOULD be ignored until they act like protesters. Read some history to learn about protests and prepare for arrest and expulsion if these things mean so much. Otherwise, you’re essentially making yourselves a joke.

  11. Great ! We need a lot more of this kind of demonstration in our society as a whole. If we don’t involve ourselves in the process, we get what we deserve.

  12. So, wait… there’s a yearly event on campus where a thousand or more students actively get grossly intoxicated and rampage all in and around Mirror Lake against the University’s wishes, yet Student Life’s response is to hand out wristbands and OSU PD makes a ton of overtime money.
    The result is a student died last year.

    40 or so students stage a peaceful sit in at a University building THEIR tuition helps pay for and display an excellent example of exercising their Constitutional rights and they are threatened with expulsion and arrest?

    Regardless of whether or not you agree with their platform, this jackbooted thuggery method of dealing with our students is reprehensible.

    Dr. Drake and Dr. J ought to be held accountable for how this was handled.
    Jay Kasey should have never even been in that room.

    • This is not a Student Life problem. Their problem is with A&P get your fact together. Mirror Lake also is not ran by Student Life but instead A&P (via Public Safety). Know that there is a point of separation between Student Life and the other departments of the university

      • You clearly have no idea of the dozens of committee meetings SL has had on Mirror Lake annually. And who was passing out the wristbands and negotiated everything with USG? Student Life.

  13. I firmly believe in protesting, though I don’t agree with all of their stances. However, they are cowards. The organizer promises to “stay as long as it takes”, then they all leave, cowed by the potential negative consequences. None of them have the courage of their convictions, and their movement SHOULD be ignored until they act like protesters. Read some history to learn about protests and prepare for arrest and expulsion if these things mean so much. Otherwise, you’re essentially making yourselves a joke.

  14. The students’ demands are simple and concise. Who could disagree with transparency regarding the university’s investments, or divestment from the sweatshop industry as well as an apartheid state established through ethnic cleansing campaigns enacted by European settlers?

    These developments are a reminder of what the police exist to police. No buildings were damaged. There was no theft, vandalism, or looting. There were no acts of violence between demonstrators. The protestors were effectively policing themselves. Police exist to protect the holdings, property, and capital of the wealthy and empowered parties in our society. Some use the term “bourgeoisie,” but “the rich” or “the state” suffices, since there’s no need to be so academic anyway.

    The demands were simple, ethical, and agreeable. The real opposition the administration holds is the presence of radical student activism on our campus, and the threat it poses to the status quo. Standing eternally in solidarity with these students. Justice forever. Keep up the good work.

  15. Students who are only at the University a short time cannot drive the business decisions of an organization the scale of OSU. Go ahead, state your case through peaceful protest. No problem with that. That doesn’t mean everyone or anyone is going to acquiesce to your desires. This is the real world.

    • You inadvertently hit the nail on the head with your inclusion of the term “business”: OSU is indeed a BUSINESS and one that is immensely PROFITABLE for a select group. A problem is the select few are carried on the backs of a horde of students who have to take out these massive student loans that they will be paying for the rest of their lives. So, you are exactly right: OSU is a business and not an institution driven PRIMARILY by a search for the truth, progressive intellectual inquiry and so forth. And, that “distinction” explains EXACTLY why threats were used by the Administration to clear that building. Protests are bad for BUSINESS!! If protests lead to awareness of the TRUTH, that’s bad for the BUSINESS. If a thousand students protested, I guarantee OSU is NOT expelling a thousand students. The frankly bizarre (and rather transparent) threats were made by the Administrator simply because the numbers were small. It’s EASY to “terrorize” a small group of students. Five students, fifty students, yes, the administration will crucify you to make an example out of you and dissuade others, but hundreds and thousands of students standing together can reform that institution and get the corruption of MONEY out of the institution. Right now, there is way too much money in so-called “education” and CORRUPTION is a wholly predictable consequence. The economics of “education” in this country are frankly IRRATIONAL at this point.

      • Well said, Kevin.

        It is interesting that this article came out in the same issue of the Lantern as the one reporting on the damning results of the faculty survey that was undertaken last Fall. I bet if the students were given the same set of questions, the results would be just as negative regarding this so-called “business-oriented” administration.

        Problem is, OSU’s “managers” (as they like to think of themselves) seem to be just as bad at running the school like sucessful business as they are at academic administration.

        BTW, the results of that faculty survey can be found here:

        ascfacultysurvey.wordpress.com

  16. Does this have something to do with Miis@Montery?

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