Transparent means “honest and open,” according to Merriam-Webster, “not secretive,” “easy to notice or understand” and “able to be seen through.” Up to this date, the Comprehensive Energy Management Project and the facilitators behind it have been anything but.
At a series of campus community meetings that I attended regarding the CEMP, numerous objections were raised by a diverse group of people who will be personally affected by this deal. Professors, students, community members and workers at Ohio State are confused and unhappy with the proceeding of the CEMP.
At a Jan. 28 Undergraduate Student Government town hall on the CEMP, despite requests from audience members, the panel refused to even name potential partners. They cited that doing so would reveal “trade secrets.” The last time I checked, the name of a corporation is not a “trade secret.”
In this same meeting, the panelists shared that current employees will only be offered an interview for their jobs with the potential partners. This is a complete lack of job security. Why can’t the university guarantee their jobs? Facilitators of these meetings continue to stress that the university is writing the terms of the contract, therefore it is ridiculous that the future for these workers and their families is uncertain. The university will not disclose why they refuse to offer these hardworking individuals their current jobs, but you can believe that it is because they are union-busting the Communication Workers of America, Local 4501.
My jaw hit the floor when I received an email on Feb. 22 stating that the university has decided to move into the third phase of the CEMP, the Request for Proposals. This is in response to the three meetings held less than one month prior, in which I only heard concern after concern. We simply do not know enough about this deal to move forward.
So many questions are left unanswered. How will a private corporation profit from this deal? How will this affect faculty research and teaching budgets or the already sky-high costs for freshmen and sophomores living on campus? How will affinity research affect the academic freedom of world-class researchers on campus? Why do we think a private corporation can better determine the research agenda than people who have dedicated their lives to knowledge production? What will the administration privatize next and how many jobs will the university sacrifice for that lump-sum check? These meetings were held simply to pacify the public. Despite the pushback, administrators have no problem pushing the issue further along.
I am troubled that the university did not consider involving the rest of the Buckeye community until the plan had reached its second phase. Everyone connected to the university will be impacted by the sell-out of our energy systems. Every voice needs to be a part of the decision-making process considering that this project is projected to be a 50-year lease. Fifty years. Everyone involved with this project will be long dead. Can we afford to lose control over our university and our energy for 50 years?
I do have this piece of information to offer: The university has said that in the terms of the potential contract, the selected contractor would have to pay a fine every time that it fails to meet the sustainability goals of OSU. This means that it could be beneficial for OSU to choose a fossil fuel corporation, because it could use dirty energy and have the school turn a profit every time that occurs.
This is infuriating, but if we make our voices loud enough, the university will listen. Students have the power to make the difference we want to see. United Students Against Sweatshops is a student-worker solidarity organization — join our campaign to Stop the Sell Out! Go to our website, sign our petition, read our report explaining our concerns in more detail. Come to our meetings on Thursdays at 7:15 p.m. in the 18th Avenue Library Room 070. Join our rally on the South Oval at 3:30 p.m. on April 21. Tell President Michael Drake why you don’t want this deal to go through: email him, call him. Your voice matters, make sure it’s heard.
Third-year in geography
United Students Against Sweatshops Local 42