Graduate and undergraduate students march across the oval in a rally to protest plans to demolish Buckeye Village. Credit: Joe Matts | Lantern reporter

Despite the cold and the start of finals week, students rallied to protest the demolition of Buckeye Village Friday.

About 50 Buckeye Village residents and supporters carrying signs that read “Save BV” and listed demands regarding graduate student and family housing asked University President Michael V. Drake about plans for the future of graduate student life at Ohio State at an open question and answer section Friday afternoon.

The protestors met for a rally outside of Drinko Hall before marching to Blackburn House to participate in a Council of Graduate Students meeting with Drake, who plans to retire in 2020.

“We want a commitment to actual family housing for the future, a permanent solution, and that solution should not be privatized one,” Dylan Roderick, a graduate student in physics, said.

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 in previous Lantern reporting.

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. 

Buckeye Village residents met to organize and discuss their concerns Nov. 12, leading to Friday’s rally.

The protestors demanded that the university maintain Buckeye Village until there is a suitable replacement, reopen Buckeye Village to new students for the time being and make a commitment to develop new family housing.

Roderick gave Drake a list of “hundreds of students, faculty and alumni” that signed a petition to meet their demands.

Drake fielded several questions from Buckeye Village residents and CGS delegates about the university’s dedication to affordability and diversity and its support of students with families. Drake referenced his legacy of increasing affordability in higher education, spoke about the university’s plan to relocate students to University Village without increasing costs, and said he would like to have more discussions about this in the future.

Drake explained that building a new Buckeye Village that is up to Ohio State’s standards would increase rent for these students by several hundred dollars, and discussions about how Buckeye Village is going to be replaced are ongoing. 

“We’re looking really carefully these days at the support of [students with families], that specific subset of our population,” Drake said. “One of the things that we had talked about, actually just recently, was getting together a working group to look at the issues that affect affordability for our students with families.”

Roderick said that this rally was more about showing how many people support Buckeye Village and getting Drake’s attention as opposed to getting answers.

“He said a lot of nothing with a lot of words,” Roderick said. “His responses basically amounted to, if I may summarize, ‘we’re not going to change our plans, but we’d like to have a committee put together to decide what our plans are in the future.’ So it’s still basically what I’ve stated the whole time — there are no future plans.”

Supporters at the rally included a representative from the Young Democratic Socialists at Ohio State and the American Association of University Professors.

“This affects not only everybody who’s living at those apartments, but also all of the students that they serve,” Jill Galvin, an associate professor in English, said. “It affects their ability to bring their best to this university, and frankly, we owe them more.” 

The group of Buckeye Village residents plan to meet Saturday to discuss future efforts. Roderick said that he thinks the next course of action is to reach out to politicians and administration members that can influence the university directly.