I am ashamed to be a Buckeye.
Yesterday, Reclaim OSU: People's Open Mic organized a peaceful sit-in in Bricker Hall, because students and faculty are fed up with being ignored by OSU administrators. The three groups who helped to organize the sit-in have been repeatedly ignored and worn down by administrators for years. The demands of the protest were simple: Allow continual public access to the Ohio State budget, and meet one of the three established campaign goals of OSU Divest (divestment from Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett Packard, and G4S due to their involvement in well-documented human rights violations), United Students Against Sweatshops (immediately cease all negotiations of the Comprehensive Energy Management Project), and Real Food OSU (sign the Real Food Campus Commitment).
Instead of agreeing to meet with students, administrators sent 20+ police officers to a peaceful protest, did not allow food or other people to come inside the building, and said they would arrest and expel everyone remaining in Bricker Hall at 5:00 AM (which ended up being pushed up to midnight).
Whether or not you support #ReclaimOSU, it makes me angry that students would be threatened to be arrested and expelled for expressing opinions. Throughout my four years at Ohio State, I have witnessed what these students are protesting. I've seen the silencing of student opinion and the importance of profit placed over student well-being.
It makes me angry that:
- Ohio State is "committed to Diversity and Inclusion" but only had a grand total of 119 black males in the enrolled Fall 2015 first year class. Around 20-30 of these black males were football players.
- Throughout my four years here, I have yet to personally meet a single student or faculty member who supports Privatization. I receive emails from the Comprehensive Energy Management Project every two weeks asking for student feedback on the matter. So many people in the Ohio State community are against Privatization, yet Ohio State continues to ignore feedback and is rolling forward with the plan.
- Ohio State is struggling to recruit diverse faculty. One of the outcomes of the CampusParc deal was the creation of a fund for recruiting minority faculty. However, millions of dollars in this fund are being wasted because many potential faculty members do not want to come to an institution that gives lip service to Diversity and Inclusion, but has a student population that reflects the opposite.
- Under the leadership of Geoffrey Chatas, Senior Vice President for Business & Finance and CFO of the University, Ohio State entered into the 50-year, $483 million partnership with QIC Global Infrastructure where they privatized the university's parking facilities. Once this deal closed, Chatas accepted a role with QIC Global Infrastructure but after backlash from the university community Chatas decided to remain in his role at Ohio State.
- The university can spend $700,000 on renovations for Browning Amphitheatre (which is barely used) and $42 million on renovations for Ohio Stadium (yes yes yes and yes I know that "Athletics is a self-sustaining department and the department is paying for this project themselves") but tells students that it is not economically feasible to create a much needed Women's Center on campus.
These are a very small subset of things I've noticed at Ohio State. Please don't get me wrong: I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to pursue an education here. When I leave in December of this year, I will be leaving with a strong degree, great experiences, and friends for life. However, as I've gotten older, I have seen the bureaucracy, the silencing, the focus on profit rather than the well-being of students, faculty, and staff, and the politics that run rampant.
The university I have called home for the past four years threatened to arrest and expel students and faculty for voicing frustrations, bringing light to real issues at Ohio State, and for being brave enough to do so. For that, I am ashamed to be a Buckeye.