A sign that says Reclaim OSU

On Tuesday, September 13th, the Lantern published an interview with President Michael Drake that misrepresented the details and events of and surrounding the #ReclaimOSU occupation last spring. We, as a coalition, have several corrections and rebuttals to President Drake’s comments:

Referring to the threats of expulsion against protestors at the ReclaimOSU protest, President Drake claimed that “it never would happen.” However, Dr. Drake has a history of upholding these same draconian measures against student activists. As Chancellor of The University of California Irvine, Drake threatened students who became known as the Irvine 11 with arrest and expulsion. After peacefully disrupting a speech by an Israeli ambassador, students were suspended from school and given three years of probation.

Furthermore, after phone conversations with Dr. Drake, Senior Vice President for Administration and Planning, Jay Kasey, explicitly told protesters that if they did not vacate the premises, they would face arrest and expulsion. Instead of apologizing to students for his wanton threats, President Drake took the route of scapegoating his subordinate Jay Kasey. The article states that “Drake said he found out about the comment after the fact.” However, recorded video of the protest shows Jay Kasey stating that “I’ve just talked to President Drake” before leveling the threats of arrest and expulsion. Either Kasey lied to the students, or, more likely, Drake did in fact speak with Kasey and give the orders.

In the aftermath of the protest, the article states that “Drake said there have been discussions with some of the involved groups, to hear what they have to say, throughout the spring and summer, as well as meetings that have occurred as recently as the past couple of days.” However, no member organizations of ReclaimOSU have received any attempts of contact from President Drake.

Drake claims that, “We (the administration) try to be good listeners. We really try. We try to be great listeners, actually.” The whole genesis and experience of ReclaimOSU disproves this assertion. Administration has continually met student protest with either apathy or outright hostility. Drake has only met with one of the ReclaimOSU student groups for a grand total of 15 minutes over the last year. And even when students pursue the formal means of reform through the university structure, the Undergraduate Student Government, Drake has ignored their efforts. Real Food OSU successfully passed a resolution through USG, and yet Drake has refused to adopt their resolution, let alone respond to it. The afternoon of the ReclaimOSU sit-in, when protesters entered Bricker Hall, they found the door of Drake’s offices locked and that Drake had left preemptively, tipped off that a protest would be occurring. And throughout the night, Kasey relayed Drake’s stance that he “does not listen to student demands.” President Drake and the administration of OSU may listen to a select body of students on very specific terms, but to state that the university administration listens, and well, to students who have deep concerns or critiques of the institution, has been proved absurd time and time again.

Today, the university is run by a bureaucratic administration in partnership with the corporate-owned Board of Trustees. ReclaimOSU’s goal is not to be solely “listened to” by these bodies, but for Ohio State to be a democratic institution where students and workers have a real say in how this university operates and where the university’s money is spent and invested.

ReclaimOSU will continue to expose the lies told, empty promises made and efforts to manipulate student activism. We will continue to fight for a just and democratic university that students and workers deserve. Until this goal is reached, we will continue to disturb the “peace” so enshrined by those who wield power to repress us. Because without justice, there cannot and will not be peace.


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