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Open letter to President Drake and Ohio State administration

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We write this letter to express the widespread outrage over the university’s recent decision to allow a group of primarily non-student individuals to carry assault rifles on our campus last week. The event required no special permission from the university — a significant issue on its own. Even more egregious, however, the decision not to prevent this march came on the heels of one of the most frightening and traumatic weeks in the history of Ohio State.

As educators, we do not believe the administration has shown it supports our stated university mission “to advance the well-being of the people of Ohio and the global community through the creation and dissemination of knowledge.” Everyone on campus Nov. 28 recalls that there was reason to panic and reason to be disturbed, and that subsequently special counseling services were put in place, classes were canceled and campus regularity was disrupted. Such a fissure in the everyday climate at the university as a result of fear of violent threat has, rightfully, required time for discussion and recovery. All students and faculty are at this point stretched thin and working to beat deadlines and complete finals. Bringing visible, violent machinery onto campus this week is absolutely not in accordance with the University’s mission to promote learning first and foremost. This incident created yet one more urgent concern that we had to take time to discuss and process with our students. If these radical demonstrators truly care about educating and facilitating dialogue, they can table on the Oval or hold an open forum without guns present.

The University uses their safety alerts as infrequently as possible so as not to induce panic when unnecessary; it was certainly shocking for all of OSU to receive messages that said “Run Hide Fight” especially when the attack was also termed a “shooting” in the same communications. The attack was not a shooting. However, the OSU administration still thinks it is appropriate to 1) allow these large guns on campus in broad daylight and 2) not warn the OSU community at large that they would be right outside academic buildings. Moreover, the administration allowed this to occur just a week after members of this community thought a shooter was attacking the campus. At best, the message that OSU is sending about the use of guns on campus is confusing.

Following the attack, University President Drake concluded his message to OSU by saying, “Our top priority remains the safety and security of our campus community.” As many know, in practice, the right to carry a weapon openly is only selectively granted by law enforcement in the state of Ohio. Too many people of color, including children, have been killed by police for the possession of weapons, often weapons that turned out to not even be deadly, as in the cases of Tamir Rice, John Crawford III, and, most recently, Tyre King. It is an affront to the students and staff of color on this campus for the university to so brazenly highlight the racial double standard at play in this state, by not only welcoming a group of white activists with deadly weapons to our campus, but providing them University Police security, while. elsewhere in the state, people of different races are killed for the possession of weapons in places where such possession is not even banned, as it is on this campus.

Even given the historically sensitive campus climate, we are appalled that the university chose to negotiate the rules of the University Registrar, which state that use of university property must not, in any form, disrupt University business. In addition, the OSU student code of conduct states in item (B) that “threatening action that endangers the safety, physical or mental health, or life of any person, or creates a reasonable fear of such action” is prohibited. It is safe to say that the action of the open-carry demonstration very well could endanger the mental health of all OSU community members and certainly could create reasonable fear. When the OSU administration allows demonstrators to display threatening weapons on campus and thereby violate the student code of conduct, we no longer understand whom this campus is ultimately serving.

Very concerned,

Shannon Winnubst, Chair, Department of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies
Barry Shank, Chair, Department of Comparative Studies
Karen Hutzel, Chair, Department of Arts Administration, Education & Policy
Robyn Warhol, Chair, Department of English
Valerie Lee, Chair, Department of African American and African Studies
Yana Hashamova, Chair, Department of Slavic and Eastern European Languages & Cultures
Lisa Florman, Chair, Department of History of Art
Eugenia R. Romero, Chair, Department of Spanish & Portuguese
Robert C. Holub, Chair, Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures
Shari Speer, Chair, Department of Linguistics
Susan Hadley, Chair, Department of Dance
Nate Rosenstein, Chair, Department of History

29 comments

  1. It’s truly sad that student protestors who “disrupt university business” are threatened with expulsion and arrest while non-students or, as administration loves to call them, “outside agitators” who strike fear into student, faculty, and staff by literally toting weapons are not punished in the least. Who does this university serve? Certainly not its students, faculty, or staff.

    • You are aware, the school had no say in the matter right? The president could speak out against it until he’s blue in the face, but it’s state law that allowed them to be there. The University only has control of the students and faculty and thus cannot take action against persons behaving in a lawful manner that don’t fall into those categories. The code of conduct does not apply in this case and the Supreme Court has stated that the lawful carry of a firearm by itself is NOT a reasonable cause for suspicion.

    • Really, well considering the second amendment is the law of the land and all, and the University is funded with My tax dollars, I believe it is necessary for it to serve all the people not hust the cowards.

    • Poor widdle child!!! Does the very sight of FREEDOM scare you so? Who was actually harmed by this demonstration? Is your “safe space” properly stocked with coloring books, puppies and kittens, Play Doh, milk and cookies, and other essential items? Remember, it was a GOOD GUY WITH A GUN that saved your childish ass from the BAD GUY WITH A CAR AND KNIFE.

    • Faculty radicalized students dr. Drake doctor said his doctor Gaston are directly responsible they lied to the public they lied to the students claimed Muslims were under attack they pushed the terrorists before they have violated federal laws that constitute an arrest.
      If we must carry guns to school we are in the wrong School however we still must protect ourselves from the radicalized faculty staff and the terrorist.
      Guns are not the problem Muslim terrorists in our schools and faculty radicalizing students is the problem you better realize it or it will keep happening as long as you allow it social justice class multiculturalism class social justice Warriors are destroying our institutions!

    • Faculty radicalized students Dr. Drake Suddeth Gaston are directly responsible they lied to the public they lied to the students claimed Muslims were under attack
      Faculty pushed the terrorist to far, they have violated federal laws that constitute an arrest.

      If we must carry guns to school we are in the wrong School however we still must protect ourselves from the radicalized faculty staff and the terrorist.

      Guns are not the problem Muslim terrorists in our schools and faculty radicalizing students is the problem you better realize it or it will keep happening as long as you allow it!
      Radicalized Faculty and they’re
      social justice class multiculturalism class social justice Warriors are destroying our institutions!
      This school is too dangerous!

  2. Excellent letter. Drake has yet to respond to this at all.

  3. Concerned Student Too

    Department of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies
    Department of Comparative Studies
    Department of Arts Administration, Education & Policy
    Department of English
    Department of African American and African Studies
    Department of Slavic and Eastern European Languages & Cultures
    Department of History of Art
    Department of Spanish & Portuguese
    Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures
    Department of Linguistics
    Department of Dance
    Department of History

    … shocking that this letter from our most esteemed departments makes such little sense

    • aka “The unemployable”.

    • Lol yes. So much to do about nothing.

    • Don’t be so quick to dismiss the fluffy disciplines / departments. If you lose these topics in education you lose civilization. The fact that our society has resources to support this type of study means it is affluent + vibrant. If you only value corporate work you will see that your society will more and more only reflect corporate values. You can act smug today, but another day you’ll look around and get a sick feeling.

  4. Roger Barriteau - Lecturer OSU Black Studies Dept. 1973-78

    “Valerie Lee, Chair, Department of African American and African Studies” – I am gratified to this scholar and leader who has listed herself with these other scholars who have ethics and courage. I wish there were more from the Department. From Roger Barriteau Lecturer Ohio State U. Department of Black Studies 1973-78 and Student member of Black Student Union and Afro-Am: organizations which struggled for the establishment of the Department and for the rights and recognition of Black Students, Faculty and Staff 1965 -70. I am still here now!

  5. As the father of an OSU graduate, I’m profoundly happy she survived her time on the Columbus campus without being mugged, raped, or worse.
    My biggest fear for those four years was the fact that she had little or no means of protecting herself due to idiotic legislation and OSU administration shortsightedness.
    Any OSU student that had been a part of that march would have been risking being expelled just for voicing their opinion.
    If I had been in Ohio and able to I would have been marching right along with those that were there.
    You people should not fear those that legally carry firearms whatever size or color those guns are.
    Utah has had laws in effect for years allowing law abiding citizens to carry firearms in their schools and have NEVER had a problem. Is Ohio that much different than Utah? I certainly don’t think so.

  6. Hey look, a letter from the heads of departments responsible for issuing degrees that are nearly worthless in the employment market outside Ivory Tower Academialand. Otherwise known as the real world.

    But I didn’t sign in here just to hurl on-point insults at overpaid pompous eggheads. As an Ohioan whose tax dollars go towards supporting public universities, and one that takes part in these armed educational walks on the various campuses, I would firmly ask you to cease and desist from calling me an “outsider” and other such pejorative vitriol. That is a public campus, whether you like it or not. I’ll stop the name calling when you do.

  7. Get your facts straight they were NOT assault rifles, please provide the definition of an assault rifle! Then you say “as educators” well maybe you should educate yourself. Students were not allowed to attend the walk due to University regulations. These people were being a voice for the students who could not participate due to unconstitutional University rules. “The most frightening” event was stopped by someone with a gun. Had the officer, or someone else with a gun, not be in the right place at the right time the terrorist with a knife would have done much more damage then he got away with. It is in fact very unreasonable to fear law abiding citizens who are standing up for their right to self protection. People legally carry guns everywhere you go, yet you do not ever know they have them. If you met me in the grocery store, would be be scared of me because you can’t see the gun in my purse? No, you would go about your day as normal just as you would if a student or staff member passed you on the sidewalk with a concealed gun. Anything can be used as a weapon, as seen in the car/knife attack, will you now walk around fearful of all objects knowing this or just guns?

  8. I was very upset that I didn’t hear about this demonstration of weapons-based campus defense ideology in advance.

    It would have been a perfect opportunity for me to launch my “Spears for Campus Safety” initiative. That yayhoo with the knife wouldn’t have gotten very far against a phalanx of irritated chem majors, I tell you what.

  9. Lol @ Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies & Department of Dance

    I don’t know what’s more shocking, that there are people who pay to study this crap or that the people teaching this crap are against personal safety. You would think someone concerned with women and their safety would ENCOURAGE females to purchase a firearm, learn how to use it and carry it on them at all times for protection from the white, mysogynist patriarchs you see everywhere on the OSU campus.

  10. Concerned Ohio Citizen

    There are so many things wrong with this letter, where to begin….lets start with the truth.

    “We write this letter to express the widespread outrage over the university’s recent decision to allow a group of primarily non-student individuals to carry assault rifles on our campus last week.”
    1) Alert Oxford’s Dictionary that the definition of “widespread” has been changed to mean “just a few people”. If you check the facebook event page for the open carry demonstration walk that is still up you will find videos posted by the attendees whom were nice enough to record their conversations with students, many of whom expressed gratitude and support for the demonstration and the attendees.
    2) Assault rifles are defined as any firearm that expends multiple rounds with one trigger pull. The firearms carried by all of the attendees at the demonstration were semi-automatic rifles which means that only one round is expended for each pull of the trigger. Further the term “assault rifle” is a term that describes an action being used with the object. Since no one was “assaulted” then this term is invalid. Even further some of the firearms displayed in photos by the attendees were single shot hunting rifles or pistols.

    “The event required no special permission from the university — a significant issue on its own”
    1) Since the University is a public domain it is subject to abide by the laws set forth by the State of Ohio and the United States Federal government both of which protect a citizens constitutional right openly carry a firearm. They cannot prevent this even if they wanted to as it would be a violation of a persons constitutional rights.

    “As educators, we do not believe the administration has shown it supports our stated university mission “to advance the well-being of the people of Ohio and the global community through the creation and dissemination of knowledge.””
    1) This is exactly what the university was doing in this case allowing the demonstration to take place in order for students to be exposed to differing points of view and challenge their assumptions in order to create dialogue and promote deeper thinking.
    2)Just because you don’t agree with the demonstration does not give you the right to determine which points of view are “safe” for students to be exposed to or which ones are allowed. Your argument seems to paint a perception of you wanting to control what your students are exposed to and what kinds of “knowledge” are correct from your perspective. What exactly are you afraid of? That they might form thoughts and opinions of their own vs what you tell them to think and feel?……

    “Bringing visible, violent machinery onto campus this week is absolutely not in accordance with the University’s mission to promote learning first and foremost.”
    1) If you recall, the terrorist who attacked your school brought “visible and violent machinery” onto your campus in the form of a vehicle and knife. By your logic then anything that could be defined as “potentially violent machinery” is something that should be banned on campus.
    2) If the Universities mission is to “promote learning first and foremost” than any opportunity for students to be challenged and exposed to differing viewpoints should be welcomed and embraced in order to provide ways for them to grow.

    “If these radical demonstrators truly care about educating and facilitating dialogue, they can table on the Oval or hold an open forum without guns present.”
    1) Considering that nothing violent occurred from the demonstration I would be unfair to call the demonstrators as “radicals” especially since, according to recent polling, support for gun control has dropped to 46 percent while support for gun rights has jumped 52 percent, the highest ever in the past 25 years according to Pew Research Center polling from this past year. On the contrary they actually represent the majority of american citizens.
    2) Be honest, would any of you actually attend an open forum to discuss gun rights if we did decided to hold it? And if you did, would you be open to differing points of view?……My gut tells me you would not.

    “However, the OSU administration still thinks it is appropriate to 1) allow these large guns on campus in broad daylight and 2) not warn the OSU community at large that they would be right outside academic buildings. Moreover, the administration allowed this to occur just a week after members of this community thought a shooter was attacking the campus. At best, the message that OSU is sending about the use of guns on campus is confusing.”
    1) Students and faculty alike were dully informed of the demonstration via email and public notice boards. Read your email and stop making up false claims.

    “It is an affront to the students and staff of color on this campus for the university to so brazenly highlight the racial double standard at play in this state, by not only welcoming a group of white activists with deadly weapons to our campus, but providing them University Police security, while. elsewhere in the state, people of different races are killed for the possession of weapons in places where such possession is not even banned, as it is on this campus.”
    1) And here is where you took the hard left turn and made this about race. You should have stuck with your original argument. Now i cant even tell what your ultimate goal is? Is it student safety? Is it that you are upset with University policies? Or is this now about race relations and painting gun rights activists as “white supremacists”?
    2)Again, I would like to point you to the actual pictures, articles, and videos posted BY THE DEMONSTRATORS THEMSELVES that actually shows that many of them were of differing races and they even engaged a group of high school students whom were a very diverse group of individuals led by a lovely teacher who encouraged them to engage in discourse with the demonstrators in order to learn about why they were there and form their own opinions. Seems like the high school teacher had much more sense than this group of professors.

    “In addition, the OSU student code of conduct states in item (B) that “threatening action that endangers the safety, physical or mental health, or life of any person, or creates a reasonable fear of such action” is prohibited. It is safe to say that the action of the open-carry demonstration very well could endanger the mental health of all OSU community members and certainly could create reasonable fear.”

    FINAL: Whether you “are” safe and whether you “feel” safe are too completely different things. Additionally that is from your “student” code of conduct. You already stated that all the demonstrators were not students of your university. So they do not have to abide by your code of conduct. Further a code of conduct is simply that, a code. It is not law. As I stated earlier, the rights afforded to the demonstrators by the US and Ohio State constitution trump your “code of conduct”.

    As of the most recent data 2014, there are over 11 million concealed carry license holders across the US. If we were a problem, you would know it.

  11. As a student at the law school, I am absolutely appalled that “distinguished” scholars wouldn’t even take the time to get a basic understanding of the LAW in this area. You’re literally advocating ILLEGAL conduct on behalf of the University!

    If they had tried to stop it, they would have opened themselves up to a civil rights lawsuit from the protestors.

    According to the laws of the state of Ohio, citizens have the right to openly carry firearms in public. No entity can abridge that right. If you dislike that policy, please contact the LEGISLATURE. They are the branch that writes laws.

    http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/gp9.68

  12. “Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies”, which leads to one of TWO “career paths”: “today, class, we will be discussing the impact of transgenderism upon society, and the bigotry you will witness from sensible people”, OR “would you like fries or onion rings with you Smiley Sandwich?” You Ivory Tower Idiots really have quite a racket going, don’t you? You spend your lives indoctrinating young people into your Marxist, “politically correct” ways, leaving these poor ignorami TOTALLY UNPREPARED for the REAL world, without even a road map to help them find their “safe spaces”, while feed from the trough of the taxpayers. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. There are approximately 130,000,000 law-abiding firearms owners in this country, possessing HALF A BILLION FIREARMS, and TRILLIONS of rounds of ammunition. If we were anywhere near the problem you morons claim we are, I think you’d know it by now. Sleep sweetly knowing that I let me grandkids shoot GUNS (with proper ADULT supervision, of course) and they don’t, and WON’T, wet their pants when they do it.

  13. AAEP leadership embarrasses its students by failing to understand how public policy, the law, and OSU administrative governance interact on a basic level.

  14. Yes, of course. Most of the people these days are very good in public plocy. Do not get in to it very deeply bcoz it will lead us danger.

  15. We need to pick our battles. Those guys weren’t going to shoot anyone. You know that. I know that. They were old sober gun doofuses. Right wingers cleaned up this year partially because of our over-sensitivity.

  16. Wow, Ohio is a crazy state. As a parent of a OSU student from NJ, I have come to learn the people of Ohionare very different depending where you move in Ohio. I am not happy to hear about your open carry law for firearms. It can be scary to go,out in public and see people carrying guns. Guns do,kill. I am gladImlive in N J even if it is so expensive. I don’t see people carrying guns! Thank god.

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