Ohio State students and faculty affiliated with the #ReclaimOSU movement assembled outside of Bricker Hall shortly after 4:30 p.m. on Thursday for a press statement, regarding how administration and University Police handled the sit-in Wednesday night.
Students involved with the sit-in claimed members of the university administration threatened the group with expulsion and arrest if they did not vacate Bricker Hall by 5 a.m. on Thursday. The students had gathered in front of University President Michael Drake’s office after a rally in front of Thompson Library. Demands included greater university transparency, as well as budget and investment information.
The press statement was initially announced through Twitter by Real Food OSU, just after 11 a.m. on Thursday.
At the time, all of the doors were locked and guarded by police. Police cars also lined West 17th Avenue behind the building.
Maryam Abidi, a third-year in strategic communication and women’s, gender and sexuality studies, joined by other students on the steps of Bricker Hall, read a statement representing #ReclaimOSU.
Abidi recounted the previous night’s events, stating that a little before midnight, police and administration retracted their previous statement that students could stay inside Bricker Hall until 5 a.m.
“They threatened immediate arrest and expulsion for the approximately 40 students engaging in a peaceful protest in Bricker Hall, despite previous assurance that we would be protected until 5 a.m.,” she said.
In a video posted to YouTube, Jay Kasey, senior vice president for administration and planning, told students sitting in Bricker Hall Wednesday night that students still in the building at 5 a.m. Thursday would be cleared from the room and arrested.
“Our police officers will physically pick you up and take you to a paddy wagon and take you to be arrested,” he said after a student asked Kasey what he meant by “clear the room.”
Kasey later said he was “fairly confident” students still in the building at 5 a.m. would also face expulsion.
The decision to give the ultimatum came after university leaders decided the presence of the students in the building might scare employees working the following day. He said several employees left Bricker Hall early on Wednesday out of fear.
At 8 p.m. on Wednesday, University Police tweeted that “accommodations (have been) made for #ReclaimOSU students already inside to stay overnight” and that they “can leave at any time.”
However, in another video, posted on the NBC4 website, Kasey advised students to leave immediately.
Student organizations involved in #ReclaimOSU included Real Food OSU, United Students Against Sweatshops, Still We Rise, OSU Coalition for Black Lives and the Committee for Justice in Palestine.
Faculty members took turns reading segments of a letter of solidarity to the assembled crowd during the press conference.
The faculty were: Pranav Jani, associate professor of English; Treva Lindsey, associate professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies; Lilia Fernandez, associate professor of history; and Leslie Alexander, associate professor of African-American and African studies.
The letter of solidarity had garnered nearly 200 signatures by the start of the conference just after 4:30 p.m.
Abidi ended the statement with, “Our work is not done, and we will not be silenced.”
To close the conference, students joined arms and sang together.
Amanda Vaughn, Jay Panandiker and Michael Huson contributed to this article.
Update April 7: An update was made to this story to include information about videos of the sit-in.