On Wednesday, students at Ohio State University (OSU) organized a peaceful protest that culminated in a sit-in at Bricker Hall at night. The sit-in quickly involved the police and ignited fervent debate on social media under the hashtag #ReclaimOSU.
Challenging the administration's lack of financial transparency, protestors demanded "complete, comprehensive and detailed access to the Ohio State budget and investments," arguing that OSU students are kept in the dark about the companies that the school invests in and how their tuition money is allocated.
Student organizations involved in the sit-in included Real Food OSU, United Students Against Sweatshops, and OSU Coalition for Black Lives and the Committee for Justice in Palestine — three groups that are asking the school administration to meet at least one of their previously established demands regarding food and energy sources, and the school's investment in companies that operate in the Palestinian Territories.
"Everyone that I talked to today told me about how their group has been trying for weeks, months, and even years to appeal to the administration of OSU through the recommended channels, but have been systematically denied the attention and respect they feel they deserve," OSU student Joseph Hoffman told A Plus, though he took care to note that he was not personally affiliated with any of the groups that were involved.
But the sit-in was when students began tweeting that the OSU Police were denying outside access to the building it was taking place in and refusing to allow food to reach protestors.
Protestors also tweeted that despite being given until 5 a.m. to leave or be arrested, the police then warned them shortly before midnight of immediate arrest and expulsion if they did not leave immediately.
"Closer to midnight, the police reneged on their word and declared that the protesters had to leave 'soon' or they would begin the forceful removal and arrests," Hoffman said. "They would not clarify when 'soon' was so the protesters felt forced to leave the building, despite their plans to stay until 5 a.m."
A statement from OSU released after the incident read:
This was a group that included mostly students and also unknown people who may not be affiliated with the university, and their occupation of this building was illegal. After repeated discussions and warnings, the group chose to disperse on their own volition. They were not removed.
Protests were taking place in Duke University the same day, too. Rallying behind the hashtag #DismantleDukePlantation on social media, students and faculty joined forces to demand racial justice and a $15 minimum wage for campus workers.
Duke University's and OSU's protests are another example of student activism blooming across campuses all over the country, including at the University of Missouri, Harvard, Princeton, Brown and others.
Heightened racial tensions have become a focal point for many of these demonstrations — many of them aligned with national movements like Black Lives Matter — with protestors demanding safer campus spaces, increased support for minorities in higher education, and leadership changes, among other things.
A Plus has reached out to OSU protestors and the administration for comment.