Several hundred students gathered on Friday evening to march from Hale Hall to the Oval to protest against racial discrimination in solidarity with the protesters at the University of Missouri and other campuses. However, at the end of the rally, more than 150 students staged a sit-in at the Ohio Union that continued past midnight.
The sit-in started on the first floor of the Union at 6 p.m. After several hours, the students drafted a letter demanding that Ohio State’s administration issue a public letter of solidarity with Concerned Student 1950, an activist group known for its protests at the University of Missouri. They presented the letter to the university administration to sign and release.
A compromise was reached between university administration and protest organizers, and the university will publish details about the agreement on Saturday, said Sarah Mamo, a third-year in African-American and African studies and political science and a lead organizer of the protest. The sit-in concluded at 1:30 a.m. on Saturday.
A revision has been agreed upon and will be signed. #OSU2MIZZOU
— Racism Lives @ OSU (@osu2mizzou) November 14, 2015
The rally was held to “unearth the presence of racism on OSU’s campus,” according to the Facebook event page “#OSU2MIZZOU: Racism Lives Here.” The event was slated to only have students march to the Oval, where the protesters rallied against racial discrimination.
“Today we are here for action; our siblings in struggle at Mizzou and universities throughout the country have called upon us to demand justice within the confines of the ivory tower. We are answering that call today,” Mamo said just before the step off of the march toward the Oval.
At about 4 p.m. on Friday, students and protesters marched toward Thompson Library, chanting, “We’re with you, Mizzou,” and, “OH-IO. Racism has got to go,” before the crowd stopped to encircle the Thompson statue.
There, black students shared personal stories of moments when they had experienced racial discrimination as members of the OSU community. The stories were oftentimes emotional and met with applause from an empathetic audience.
Following the rally, the students marched on North High Street toward the Ohio Union. University President Michael Drake as well as Vice President for Student Life Javaune Adams-Gaston joined the students and listened to a list of tentative demands before the sit-in.
Rooney Hassan, a third-year in public health and another organizer of the nonviolent protest, said that other organizers participated in negotiations during the sit-in with OSU officials, including Assistant Vice President for Media and Public Relations Chris Davey and Adams-Gaston.
The series of events has been extensively coordinated via social media, especially Twitter and Facebook. Organizers created the hashtag #OSU2MIZZOU for the demonstrations, which was used at every stage for participants and students to communicate and share their message.
President Drake released a statement before the rally on Friday regarding the recent events at the University of Missouri and at other colleges.
“The recent events at the University of Missouri, Yale and other campuses reinforce the vitally important role that universities play in confronting the issues of racism, intolerance and insensitivity in American society,” the release stated. “This moment is an opportunity for us to reflect and learn.”
Mamo, speaking about Drake’s release, said, “Statements are one thing and action is another. Without action we have no liberation; without liberation we have no justice.”
Inaki DeGuzman contributed to this article.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Sarah Mamo is a third-year in African-American studies, when in fact she is a third-year in African-American and African studies.