Home » News » Protesters occupy the Oval for change

Protesters occupy the Oval for change

Erika Dejolsvay-Brooks / Lantern reporter

The “occupation” has spread to Ohio State’s campus as students and community members protested Monday against corporate greed, planned privatization of services and soaring student loan debt.

The movement evolved out of the perceived failure of Occupy Columbus and organizers realized more had to be done.

“It’s time to start organizing on campus because a lot of people are directly affected by the impact of corporate greed,” said organizer Kyle Olson, a fourth-year in anthropology.

Several protesters are unhappy with decisions President E. Gordon Gee has made — Gee’s plan to privatize the parking garages, the approval for commercialization of fracking research at OSU and Gee’s agreement with Gov. John Kasich’s higher education budget cuts.

In the state’s budget revealed in March, Kasich had to cover an $8 billion deficit, which included cuts in just about every category of the previous state budget.

The goal of the protest was to deliver a petition to Gee’s office against the privatization of parking then a march downtown to city hall to join forces with Occupy Columbus protestors.

Protesters are unhappy with the way the university is run, stating it is increasingly acting like a corporation.

“The university is paying little for labor and in return trying to get as much as possible form students who really need an education to compete in the job market,” said Haley Swenson, a first-year Ph.D. student. “I’m upset about that type of exploitation and, (I’m) here hopefully to stop it.”

Swenson said the goal is that the occupation will build in numbers.

“Getting people out initially here today, letting everybody see that there are other people who are frustrated too will get it into a bigger movement,” Swenson said.

Student protestors said they are also upset with Kasich.

Swenson said that Kasich is aware of the Occupy protest downtown, and that Kasich will now see that students are also involved as there are specific issues to fight for on campus.

The increasing privatization of OSU is a large worry for students.

“I’m concerned that Ohio State is really becoming privatized at an alarming rate and I think, too, that if we’re going to be talking about economic solutions and economic equality than we have to be looking at how the cost of higher education prohibits access for a lot of people to gaining an education and also leaves a lot of people in crippling debt that they don’t have the means to add to the economy when they get out into it,” said Sarah Carnahan, a second-year Ph.D. in social work.

Student debt and lack of jobs were a matter of concern among the crowd.

“This is opening students’ eyes to the way the debt they are accumulating now will affect them post-graduation,” said Victoria Genetin, a fifth-year Ph.D. in women’s studies. “Jobs aren’t available in the ways we’ve been told they are available.”

Several professors brought classes out for a teach-in and discussion with members of Occupy Columbus. As students crossed the Oval, some stopped to watch while others joined to sign petitions, and shared their own frustration with the university.

“I think the students are watching the Occupy events both in the United States and around the world,” Genetin said. “They are really inspiring.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.