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Drake discusses communication, traditions in editorial board meeting

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Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo Editor

University President Michael Drake emphasizes the importance of communication. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo Editor

When University President Michael Drake sat down with The Lantern on Monday afternoon, his main message was one of communication. In addition, he looked to the future of traditions and diversity at Ohio State.

Communication during student protest

In April, student protesters staged a sit-in at Bricker Hall, where President Drake’s office is located. The coalition of student organizations involved included Real Food OSU, United Students Against Sweatshops, Still We Rise, OSU Coalition for Black Lives and the Committee for Justice in Palestine. One of the coalition’s main causes was transparency between students and the administration.

In one of the communications there was a particular statement that was made that students were subject to expulsion,” Drake said. “And that wasn’t true. It never would happen. It won’t happen. There are things students can do that would result in them being expelled. But you have to do something that makes you not able to be part of the community. Participating in a demonstration is not one of those things.”

Drake said he found out about the comment — which was made by Jay Kasey, senior vice president for administration and planning — after the fact. Drake also described the threats of arrest made during the sit-in as “a poor choice of words.”

“We don’t want to arrest people,” Drake said. “We do it rarely and almost always it’s a bad day for everyone. If someone says a student was arrested, that’s always the beginning of a difficult sentence for me.”

Drake said there have been discussions with some of the involved groups, to hear what they have to say, throughout the spring and summer, as well as meetings that have occurred as recently as the past couple of days.

“We try to be good listeners,” Drake said. “We really try. We try to be great listeners, actually. The particular outcome was one we would avoid at all costs.”

The Lantern reached out to several students involved in the protest, but did not immediately receive comment.

Mirror Lake jump and university traditions

After Ohio State student Austin Singletary died during the Mirror Lake jump last November, Undergraduate Student Government passed legislation supporting the cessation of the tradition.

“We care about tradition,” Drake said. “We like tradition. We believe in wearing traditions like an old suit of clothes rather than a suit of armor. We don’t want to be bound by things that aren’t working for us.”

Drake added USG is currently working on a new tradition and way to enforce a ban on the jump, but said he couldn’t speak on any details.

Diversity

When asked about diversity on campus, Drake answered immediately.

“It needs to get better,” he said. “In our university there’s a couple of things that we need to get better at and one is making sure we provide opportunity for people across the distribution that makes our country great to be able to take advantage of the real benefits that you and I have being affiliated with such an incredible institution.”

Drake referred to his student job in medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, which involved outreach and diversity recruitment. He won an award for his work and it is displayed in his office. He said increasing diversity in higher education is “not a new quest” for him.

“We can’t fix it overnight, but we can continue to try to be better,” Drake said.

5 comments

  1. If Drake is going to kill Mirror Lake, he should be responsible for finding something students like even more -not put it on USG. It not USG’s job to rebuild a university full of traditions that Drake has destroyed.

  2. I found the incident in question to be quite interesting. I thought at the time that Dr. Drake should have been in that lobby to address the students. I also wondered about the thought process(es) which went into the question of arresting the group had they not left. For one who can be quite critical of our admin, I was fairly neutral on this, and suspended most of my judgement. The video of Mr. Kasey went (semi?) viral and garnered comments both pro and con, from all points of the compass. While at first I too was critical of his actions, I eventually ended up more intrigued than anything. I would especially have liked to have known his thought process!

    Now we learn, several months afterwards, that Mr. Kasey was “wrong” and Dr. Drake did not like how he handled it! First, note the passive construction of the first quote attributed to Dr. Drake. George Patton, he ain’t! So be it. But to now criticize Mr. Kasey’s handling of the incident and note the arrest threat was not real is, shall we say, a bit late. I would say Dr. Drake has at least one communications issue of his own: “tardiness.”

    Why is this coming out just now? I am very interested, but I fear that my interest will not be rewarded with any solid information. Forshame.

    Karl Spaulding
    OSU Pariah Laureate
    spaulding.10

  3. It took how many months for Drake to admit OSU was wrong?! Still hiding behind the curtain. Pathetic

  4. The sit-in was in early April. That was a tad over five months ago.

    MAJOR HINT TO ANY COLLEGE PRESIDENTS READING THIS: If I were Dr. Drake, I would immediately release a statement addressing the sub-glacial pace of this surprising pronouncement. It would be the *EDUCATIONAL* thing to do. You know, this being a supposedly “educational” institution and all that.

    We ARE an educational institution, right?

    Karl

  5. Drake the Snake isn’t gone yet? Fraudsters and criminals like him get everything wrong. Give the scoundrel a break! (Not.)

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