OSU graduate students and supporters protest outside the Moritz College of Law.

Ohio State University graduate students have enough struggles to contend with: completing degree requirements, teaching, research, and making ends meet on poverty stipends. Now OSU officials plan to take away a resource that grad students with children have relied on for decades: affordable family-friendly housing. In October, the university announced plans to close Buckeye Village at the end of the school year. OSU wants to demolish the housing complex to make room for a new sports facility. 

As it has done with energy, parking, and janitorial services, OSU wants to hand over the responsibility for graduate student housing to the private sector. The university is negotiating plans to move Buckeye Village residents to the University Village apartments on Olentangy River Road, subsidizing the higher rent for two years.

University Village houses mostly undergraduate students. Buckeye Village residents don’t want to live there. University Village lacks resources that grad student families depend on: speed bumps to reduce traffic hazards, quick access to the CABS bus system, and walkable access to the OSU-run day care system. They would also lose amenities that are currently included in their rent cost: internet, garbage collection, and some utilities. Given the low-wage jobs that are accessible to graduate students — especially foreign students, who make up the majority of Buckeye Village residents — any increase in the total cost of living will hurt.

“By closing Buckeye Village without alternatives, OSU is pushing families and struggling students out of the community and out of higher education,” said Bianca Davis, a graduate student in the physics department. Buckeye Village residents would lose a community that has developed around the needs of working families with children. “It’s a community of families,” Davis said. “Putting them alongside partying undergrads would destroy that.”

On December 6, about 50 graduate students and supporters rallied outside the Moritz College of Law, calling on OSU to commit to be an accessible public resource instead of a vehicle for private profit. “This fight is about the future: our future, our children's future, the future for the institution of family, the future of community," said Buckeye Village resident Rhonda Michelle.

The protesters marched to Blackburn House, where president Drake was addressing the Council of Graduate Students. They spoke with to president Drake and delivered a petition with these demands:

  • Stop the demolition of Buckeye Village and eviction of student families until a suitable, permanent replacement family housing solution is developed.
  • Reopen applications to the intentionally vacant Buckeye Village units.
  • Expand and operate new family housing with no loss of services.
  • Stop the privatization of student housing.

The protest was organized by a coalition of Buckeye Village residents, OSU Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA), Columbus Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and Central Ohio Revolutionary Socialists (CORS).

The coalition is continuing to organize on multiple fronts with support from undergraduates, including a proposal for new student housing and a campaign for green student housing. More public actions will be organized when students return from winter break. To find out how to get involved, follow YDSA Ohio State on Facebook or Twitter.

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