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Letter to the Editor: Change does not happen in meetings with administrators

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In The Lantern’s Sept. 13 edition, on the subject of relating communication with student protest, President Michael Drake said, “We try to be good listeners. We really try. We try to be great listeners, actually.”

Reading through Drake’s remarks, one might be flattered by the supposed importance with which Drake and the administration imbue open dialogue. Faithful Lantern readers will not be so easily hoodwinked.

During Spring Semester 2016, The Lantern held true to its title as “the student voice” at Ohio State by cataloging a range of student opinions on issues including divestment, the budget, campus food and the proposed privatization of campus energy. The Lantern was a helpful intellectual platform for the sharing of student ideas, while physical spaces on campus such as The Oval and Bricker Hall were well-suited for rallies, demonstrations and teach-ins that allowed students to disseminate a collective vision of the sort of university we want.

That is, until the April sit-in at Bricker Hall, where students were threatened with arrest and expulsion by senior vice president for administration and planning Jay Kasey, who invoked the consensus of university leadership, including explicit approval by Drake, in his threats. For further evidence of Drake’s uncompromising spirit, read about how, while he was chancellor at University of California, Irvine, he participated in the suspension and charges lodged against 11 Muslim student protesters.

Apparently, Drake has changed his tune to match that of most other university administrators. He claims to meet regularly with concerned student groups, though it is certainly not clear which groups he means. United Students Against Sweatshops, for example, delivers monthly letters to Drake’s office regarding the crooked Comprehensive Energy Management Plan, with no response from Drake or his office.

At the end of the day, any student who has ever been a part of serious advocacy on campus will tell you that change does not happen in meetings with administrators. Change happens when students organize their collective time and effort in a way that forces administrators to respond. Rallies, demonstrations and occupations are all on the table. And in light of Drake’s statements, we students should not shy away from these very tactics.

There are plenty of student organizations on campus fighting for a variety of causes, and they can use your help. The Lantern readers are invited to join United Students Against Sweatshops, one such organization, on Wednesday for our first letter delegation of the new school year. Together, we can show Drake that the tens of thousands of OSU students, who pay thousands of dollars to go here, have every right to make demands of their president.

Chris Johnson
Second-year in philosophy
Communications chair, USAS

One comment

  1. As with anyone else, Dr. Drake should be judged not by what he says, but by what he DOES.

    Waiting five months to say demonstrators would not have been arrested does not make a good impression!

    Karl Spaulding
    OSU Pariah Laureate

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