Do you like pizza....AND voting rights? Student suffrage and smooth jams? Last week at Ohio State University, a coalition of student activists held an event titled, “Re-Imagine the University” challenging students to evaluate the current power structure in place in public universities. Over 35 faculty, graduate assistants, lecture staff, and students spent both days in the shade of the South Oval discussing authority, student activism, and power struggles—with brief pauses for pizza, music, and good vibes. Super-down student activist groups also discussed their campaigns and initiatives and their relation to the power struggle at OSU. At its height, over 500 students were actively participating in round circles discussions amidst petition signing, rubbin’ elbows with professors under the sunny blue skies.
I got down as an organizer in the event through my involvement in another activist group on campus—Buckeyes Against Fracking—joining other activists from United Students Against Sweatshops, Don’t Sell Our University Coalition, OSU Stand Your Ground, and Occupy OSU. My fellow activists and I began organizing the event about a month in advance, rapidly spreading the word with faculty, students, and staff over late-night banner making, pizza filed meetings and email parties. We got the word out by making this awesome video to help explain the power structure at Ohio State. It was great to have grad assistants, professors, and other students be so supportive of our event!
My fellow green Buckeyes Against Fracking members and I led a discussion about our campaign to convince the OSU board of trustees to commit to not fracking on Ohio State University land. After a brief explanation of the harmful aspects of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, we began to explain that due to House Bill 133 all public institutions are required to submit a “frackable” inventory of lands. After several months of discussion with administrators, Ohio State’s Subsurface Energy Resource Center, and conversations with Gordon Gee (our university president), it became clear that OSU has the intentions of using this harmful practice on OUR public university lands. Re-Imagine reaped us 8 pages of petitions!
Overall, as a participant, student, organizer and activist I believe this event was an incredible display of solidarity and change to come. Good vibes, good conversation, and a great start to keep the revolution rolling!