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Board of Trustees: Energy partnership approved, Wendy’s protesters demand action on lease

Protesters attend Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting, upset about the university’s lease with Wendy’s at the Wexner Medical Center. Credit: Summer Cartwright | Senior Lantern Reporter

The Board of Trustees met Friday morning to vote on, and approve of, legislation including Ohio State’s proposed energy privatization partnership with ENGIE-Axium, posthumous degrees to be granted to three students in May and planning costs for recently announced Framework 2.0 construction projects.

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve of the Comprehensive Energy Management Plan, a 50-year, billion-dollar privatization plan. A lawsuit was filed to the state Supreme Court by a Bruce Weide, a professor emeritus in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, demanding unreleased public records on the deal. OSU released a heavily redacted, more-than-2,000-page report to him on Wednesday evening. Weide said neither he — nor the public — has had enough time to look at the deal properly, though he pointed out multiple financial red flags in an email to The Lantern on Friday, as the Board continued with its vote.

The deal has been under scrutiny since it was announced last week, resulting in multiple steering sessions and a special session — the first of its kind in known history — called by University Senate.

University President Michael Drake applauded the energy partnership, detailing its potential to make OSU a leading name in sustainability.

“This program is the culmination of two and a half years of discussion with more than thirty groups across campus including students, faculty and staff,” Drake said. “We have the opportunity to strengthen our core missions in considerable and really unprecedented investment in faculty, staff and students.”

Board member W.G. “Jerry” Jurgensen addressed public concern over a lack of communication throughout the planning and bidding process that resulted in the energy partnership prior to voting on the deal.

“Given the size and complexity of this transaction and reading the paper this morning … I recognize it’s tough to capture that amount of detail and really demonstrate the due diligence that is going into this,” Jurgensen said.  “I would really encourage the university to take a hard look at a public outreach in this regard that explores it in a little more detail in a Q-and-A format what this is really all about. Because of its size, and because it’s 50 years, and all of the other things there’s a real great opportunity for this to be misunderstood and misappreciated.”

Protests

A large crowd was present during the meeting, including some in protest of OSU’s contract with Wendy’s. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers interrupted the meeting to call upon the Board of Trustees to “keep their word.”

Multiple groups on and off campus have been demanding the university ends its contract with Wendy’s, which leases a restaurant space in the Wexner Medical Center, so that it will be pressured to  join the Fair Food Program and adhere to that program’s standards for tomato pickers. The program has added 14 major corporations to its program, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Chipotle and Wal-Mart, but it hasn’t convinced Wendy’s to join.

OSU’s contract with Wendy’s states the school will work to find “a resolution of the concerns of the Student Farmworkers Alliance regarding the procurement of tomatoes for the operation of Tenant’s business at the Premise that is satisfactory to Landlord in its sole discretion.”

Previously, the university set up a meeting between Wendy’s and the Student Farmworkers Alliance, but the group declined to meet, citing a message posted to Wendy’s website dating from 2013. In that statement, which has since been updated and changed, Wendy’s said it was being targeted by CIW and that the restaurant should only have to negotiate directly with the supplier, not a third-party organization like CIW.

The Fair Food Program, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers — a workers’ rights organization — and the Alliance for Fair Food work together to ensure the protection of rights and wages for farmers and farmworkers in Immokalee, Florida, according to their websites. Unlike McDonald’s and Burger King, for example, which buy tomatoes from farms in Florida that are protected by the Fair Food Program’s code of conduct, Wendy’s gets its tomatoes from Mexico.

“Keep your word,” the group of CIW members chanted from the back of the meeting room.

The group was told to write a statement to the board on their concerns that could be reviewed by the Board of Trustees later.

Reagan Tokes

Additionally, the board also voted in favor of granting a posthumous degree to Reagan Tokes, a fourth-year in psychology.

Tokes, a fourth-year in psychology, was last seen alive on Feb. 8 as she left her shift from Bodega Cafe in the Short North, before police say she was kidnapped, robbed, raped and murdered. Brian Lee Golsby, 29, is facing an 18-count indictment related to Tokes’ death and a string of robberies in German Village, and is facing the death penalty. He pleaded not guilty on Monday.

Along with Tokes, the Board of Trustees voted to award posthumous degrees to Adam Doleh and Jarrod Jasmine. Doleh is to be awarded a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Jasmine is to be awarded an associate degree from OSU’s Agricultural Technical Institute, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Environment and Natural Resources.

Framework 2.0

Members of the board also approved the planning costs for newly announced Framework 2.0 construction projects, estimated to cost between $5-7 million.

This includes 11 current construction projects that exceed $20 million individually, including renovation and upgrades of the Schottenstein Center, Ohio Stadium and Wexner Medical Center.

In total, the board approved 25 items on Friday, including contract extensions, buying and selling various property to accommodate Framework 2.0 plans, naming buildings and rooms after persons and the establishment of a master of contemporary art and curatorial practice.

All items were approved with unanimous consent.

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