When Ohio State sent an email to Dylan Roderick that said it would not renew his housing contract in Buckeye Village and he would be relocated to University Village, Roderick said he was angry.
Roderick, a graduate student in physics, said he “stewed” in that anger for a couple of days before a friend convinced him to do something about it. He reserved a room at the Buckeye Village Recreation Center for Tuesday night and organized a meeting for people who felt similarly.
At the meeting, concerned Ohio State graduate and undergraduate students discussed the losses they will face with the destruction of Buckeye Village — Ohio State’s graduate student and family housing — and possible protests against the university’s plans.
“When a bad thing happens and a bad thing happens to a community, like us being kicked out of Buckeye Village, it can feel like you’re alone,” Roderick said. “I wanted to get the residents, especially, get them thinking about and participating in potential future action.”
The university announced in late October that residents of Buckeye Village may have the option to rent a University Village unit beginning in 2020-21 at their current rate, as the university continues to develop the Athletics District and closes the existing Buckeye Village, university spokesperson Ben Johnson said.
Buckeye Village is a group of apartments owned and operated by the university offering either one- or two-bedroom units and access to university Wi-Fi. Roderick said that low speed limits enforced by speed bumps and the community center create a safe environment. The nearby Ohio State child care center offers tuition assistance programs for employed graduate students, according to the Ohio State’s human resources website.
The meeting included discussion of the timeline of Ohio State’s announcements related to Buckeye Village, concerns about living in privately owned housing and a show of support from undergraduate students. Roderick said his goal of getting the student community organized was successful.
“I learned more about why people are here at Buckeye Village. I’ve got a list of what is lost when we [relocate], and I’ve got people that are more than willing to help construct a rally, come to a rally and fight for Buckeye Village,” Roderick said.
Among the top concerns for meeting attendees was the loss of a safe, family-oriented community. Some meeting attendees said that moving to University Village would mean living with younger undergraduate students and further from the university. Roderick said he agreed.
“This isn’t just because I don’t want to lose my apartment. I want the other families in the future, other people with kids or spouses, to have a place like Buckeye Village,” Roderick said. “I want the university to actually want people like me here.”
Bianca Davis, a graduate student in physics who recently had a child, applied to move into Buckeye Village with her husband, who is also a graduate student. She was told there was no availability, and she assumed it meant that Buckeye Village was full. She later found out that the university was no longer accepting applications in preparation for the demolition.
Davis said Buckeye Village would have been a great resource for her by providing a safe community, child care for her daughter, university internet and affordable amenities.
“Just the amount of money that [we] would’ve saved living here since my daughter was born would’ve been a really big help for us financially. We have pretty low stipends, with day care costs and medical bills, even being on the OSU insurance, we’ve lost all our savings in just a few years,” Davis said.
In her speech to meeting attendees, Davis spoke to the greater impact of Buckeye Village’s destruction.
“This is just privatization of education. It’s making it increasingly unaffordable for people in a time with record student debt and student loans. It’s making it harder for people to be grad students if you’re a foreign student, if you come from a poorer background like many of us do,” Davis said. “They have the money to build an alternative, more modernized Buckeye Village or graduate community housing. This is a public institution, this is the flagship of Ohio, this is just absurd.”
The meeting included a pledge of support from the Young Democratic Socialists of America at Ohio State.
Nikki Velamakanni, a second-year in neurology and secretary of YDSA, told meeting attendees that students will be behind their efforts. She said getting the word out is necessary.
“A lot of attention is what we need, and that’s part of the reason that a lot of things go under the rug because they don’t get the attention that they deserve,” Velamakanni said. “So YDSA stands in solidarity with you.”