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Students, activists raise tents to raise awareness in week of action

Trevor Britton, a first-year in physics and astronomy, Sean Rugg, a first-year in sociology, Jay Roeler, a third-year in political science, Isaac Miller, a fourth-year in history, and Meghan Day, a fourth-year in computer science, camp out on the South Oval on Tuesday, April 19, 2011, as part of a five-day protest.

Students and activists gathered this week on the South Oval as part of a week-long campout to raise awareness about controversial university policies and state legislation.

The campout, which was formed by a loose coalition of individuals and student groups on campus including United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), Free the Planet and International Socialist Organization (ISO), is part of a week of action that will culminate on Friday afternoon with a Walkout and Rally on the Oval.

“It just sort of organically happened,” said Thomas Lee, a fourth-year in political science and international development.

“We all just heard about this from people we met.”

Events scheduled for the rest of the week include a nightly people’s assembly where all students, faculty, staff and community members can voice their opinions and ask questions about local and university issues, a screening of the award winning documentary “Gasland,” and daily student-run information sessions. Think tanks Policy Matters Ohio and ProgressOhio will attend the info sessions to give factual support on the discussed current issues.

“This is really just a place for people to learn more about issues and ask questions,” said Free the Planet member Pat O’Connell, a fourth-year in materials science engineering.

“How do you expect the average Ohio citizen to have time to understand all 5,000 pages of the current budget, or the hundreds of pages SB5 (Senate Bill 5) legislation?”

Food Not Bombs, a local mutual aid project, is providing free breakfast to campers.

“I’m here to stand up for workers rights on both the state and university level,” Lee said. “I’m here to stand for and demand that Ohio State be a leader in clean energy. I am here because students should get to have a fair say in these issues like mandatory student housing for second years, the switch to semesters and all other university matters.”

Terasia Bradford, a USAS member and second-year in sociology and French, said she was fighting for similar issues.

“People are already struggling financially to get through school, these students out here realize we need to come together as one large student movement,” Bradford said.

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