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Protesters attend Board of Trustees meeting, demand action

Lindsey Barrett / Lantern reporter

The Black Student Association and supporters of the OSU Stand Your Ground movement held a protest during a formal Ohio State Board of Trustees meeting Friday morning. The protest was in response to the words “Long Live Zimmerman” that were found spray-painted to the west side of Hale Hall Thursday.

James Hayes, a member of BSA, called the incident a “hate crime.”

“It was not mere vandalism that denigrated the west wall of the Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center, but an act of hatred,” Hayes said.

Hayes said the group’s primary goals were to “improve the climate at OSU and ensure the safety of all students at the university.”

Hayes and LaChe Roach, president of the OSU chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, addressed the board.

Roach read the three demands of the group.

The demands were for hate crime alerts, which would be used to raise immediate awareness for “racist, sexist, homophobic and other hateful actions,” for increasing diversity in both students and faculty, and for “inclusion, not just tolerance,” Roach said.

At the meeting, President E. Gordon Gee thanked the students for their leadership and concern.

Gee said he has asked Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president for student life, and board member Janet Reid to form a task force that will look to find ways to solve issues such as the incident at Hale Hall. Gee said he also plans to use external consultants to form an action plan.

“I will ask Dr. J and Dr. Reid to reach out and get representatives from the community to get involved, we will have these recommendations, we will then bring them to our board, and we will meet in three weeks,” Gee said.

Judge Algenon Marbley, a member of the board, also responded to the students.

“We are aligned with you,” Marbley said. “We have the same agendas.”

Marbley said the university has a policy of zero tolerance toward hate speech and other related crimes. He also said the university places high importance on diversity and inclusion, and has already been working on addressing the concerns raised by the students.

Marbley said the task force addressing the students’ concerns will include students, including some from BSA.

Reid echoed the comments of Marbley in response to the students.

“The fact that you are here means that you do care,” Reid said.

Reid said the board members share the sentiments of the students, and placed high importance on dealing with the issue of hate.

“We were in a meeting when (the news of the Hale Center graffiti) was going on, so the importance of it interrupted the flow of what was going on, because we recognized the gravity,” Reid said.

Roach said she questioned whether or not the trustees’ responses were genuine.

“I feel like they came yesterday to see what we were going to say and have something prepared, so I don’t think listening (to them) is as genuine,” Roach said. “But I do appreciate them having us and responding, and that’s what we wanted. We wanted that response.”

The members of BSA addressed their concerns to Gee Thursday night at the Hale Center.

Roach said the group intends to give the university the chance to address their concerns, and looks forward to hearing what the task force’s plan of action will be. She said it was important that the entire university was aware of the task force’s plan.

Hayes said the group also wants to explore ways in which the university can reach out beyond campus to minorities in Columbus as a whole.

Other protestors, like Derrick Amanor, a fourth-year in electrical and computer engineering, joined Roach in questioning the trustees’ sincerity.

“I think we got a very cliche approach,” he said. “It’s exactly what I expected to hear from them, and I think that they need to be a little more proactive. There needs to be action behind these words.”

The protest took place at Longaberger Alumni House at 2200 Olentangy River Rd.

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