Monday, April 18, 2016

Ohio State Admins Used "Safe Space" to Combat a Student Sit-In. From The Atlantic.

If you are students, and I think the vast majority of you are, I want you to understand that you are violating the student code of conduct. As dictated to me by [university president] Dr. Drake 15 minutes ago to me on the phone, we have chosen to try to work with you this evening because we respect you. This is your university.
And we want to have dialogue. We want the dialogue to extend beyond tonight. But if you refuse to leave, then you will be charged with a student code of conduct violation. And I’m telling you this now because I want you to have good thought and careful consideration. If you’re here at 5 a.m. we will clear the building and you will be arrested. And we will give you the opportunity to go to jail for your beliefs. Our police officers will physically pick you up, take you to a paddywagon, and take you to be jail.
Our goal, because I want you to understand why we would do something like this—I didn’t think we were going to—but the consensus of university leaders is that the people who work in this building should be protected also.
They come to work around 7 o’clock. Do you remember when you all made the rush down there and chanted to the folks outside the doors a minute ago?
That scared people.

That elicited disbelief from protesters. Who was scared, they scoffed, the police officers with guns? Said the university messenger, “If you refuse to understand what I’m trying to tell you—I’m not going to answer that question,” meaning he refused to say who it scared. Soon after, his sidekick steps in, saying, “It would scare employees who are wanting to do their work in this building.” Added the first messenger, “The employees who work past five o’clock left early this evening. Do you know why? Because they were scared you were going to do something.”


The rest.


- from unknown sender

16 comments:

  1. The story from the Columbus Dispatch provides more information about the protests themselves.
    Click here.

    Good for OSU. If students can disrupt university business over the type of food (not quality or quantity) provided at the dining hall then they can protest anything.

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    1. Ben, other news links don't mention the food services angle, but instead highlight student demands that are much more substantive, for example, transparency in the university budget.

      To quote a student in a Cleveland TV channel 19 website:
      "We tried to find more information on the OSU Budget. Online the budget for 2016 shows $6.1 billion in total revenue. The total expenses are $5.5 billion, line items for those costs include salaries, benefits, financial aid, and health system. There is also an 'other' category that lists $1.3 billion in costs."

      I'd sure as hell go out and protest to try and find out what the $1.3 billion in "other" represents, especially if the uni is like most others these days with increasing class size, decreasing faculty numbers, increasing tuition, admin ranks & salaries, etc. etc.

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    2. When "Other" represents more than a fifth of you budget there certainly is a lack of transparency.

      Handling money in billion dollar increments with good stewardship and the ability to see that little of it is stolen is not a trivial task, and a huge grab bag line like that is scary.

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    3. Fair point. I only read the article which I linked. It's a public university and while I'm sure most Ohio politicians are hesitant to criticize the Buckeyes, it is a public university. I'd think there some way to get this information through some document hunting or FOIA requests.

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  2. At least they're not rioting because a beloved college football coach was fired for remaining silent about child sex abuse.

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    1. Students riot when the WIN the championship. I can't begin to understand that.

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  3. At a former campus I used to work at, demonstrations were prohibited under any circumstance.

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    1. What is the no-longer-a campus now?

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    2. Oh, they're still a campus.

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    3. Oh, OK. I thought maybe their policy was relevant to their demise, but I was going in the wrong direction.

      As for a former girl I used to date, now she's an old lady.

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  4. Only college professors and administrators would think this abuse of power was funny. Cowards. Every one of them.

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    1. I don't think it's funny. I think it's idiotic. Idiocy doesn't make me laugh.

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    2. It is most certainly NOT abuse of power! Holding people accountable to the rules they agreed to is abuse of power now?

      You don't go to school to protest, you go to learn. If you just protest constantly, you should be expelled. And if they cared about their beliefs as much as they say they do, they'd be willing to be expelled. They call themselves civil rights activists. Those people got sprayed with fire hoses and had dogs sic'd on them. And THESE snowflakes aren't even willing to change schools.

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  5. I did not send this in, but I suspect everyone so far has missed the point:

    Look at the extreme reaction administration takes when the customers demand their whims be met. Compare that to how administration has trended toward siding with students AGAINST instructors who have an educational agenda to adhere to. If it's really all about food selection, why hasn't the always-correct customer been appeased?

    Thinking of this simply as a snowflake issue misses the administration angle that is SO CLEARLY on display in the snippet.


    - Anon y Mouse

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  6. The accounts of what the protestors want do seem to differ significantly (which suggests there may be a somewhat loose coalition bound together as much by the desire to protest as by a particular cause; that's not entirely unusual in a college -- or any -- context; see the Occupy movement, among others). Some of the causes do seem more serious, and some of the demands more reasonable, than others.

    That said, the Atlantic writer strikes me as making a cogent point: on the one hand, the whole feelings-as-facts "safe spaces" trend is tremendously vulnerable to such responses, and perhaps should be, since the reasoning involved (and I use that term loosely) is pretty far removed from anything resembling critical thinking (or even, to my mind, real respect for other human beings, since people of good faith can, in fact, differ, even in ways that badly hurt each others' feelings, without having any ill intentions). This kind of response could be a useful corrective, lest campus discussions of various sorts devolve into the equivalent of a bad marriage-counseling session in which the participants battle over who is more rightfully aggrieved/the victim.

    That said, there's also a very real danger that administrators will use this weapon way too broadly, against protestors who have a real point to make (and budget transparency certainly falls in that category as far as I'm concerned, though I'm wondering if a FOIA request might be more effective than a protest -- assuming that isn't the budget that you get in response to a FOIA request). And somehow such tactics do, as the Atlantic author points out, have a way of being turned against the most vulnerable. I'm seeing a good many black and brown faces among the protestors, which casts a slightly different light on the accusation that the protestors scared staff/made them feel that they might "do something" (do we now add sitting in while black/brown to the list of "threatening" activities that somehow invite/justify preemptive force? Yes, nonviolent protestors have routinely been arrested since at least the '50s, but the refusal to recognize that nonviolent protestors *are* nonviolent, rather than just waiting to burst into violence, seems to me to hark back to the '50s and '60s. I certainly don't remember any such rhetoric during the anti-apartheid sit-ins of my own college years -- the late '80s)

    I guess another question is whether the sit-in is an antiquated, perhaps outdated, technique in the present media climate. Certainly there are other ways to catch the attention of the press, and to bother college administrators to the point of paying attention, that don't leave one open to accusations of alarming the support staff. I'd be inclined to advise the students to turn to those (some of which also have the virtue of forcing one to explain one's position cogently in order to get attention) rather than take the risk that their perceived violence will be turned back on them.

    tl;dr: it does seem to be a complicated moment, with a lot going on out there, and no easy answers.

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    1. Given OSU's student population, you could probably get 100 students to protest the flavor of cheese used in the Tuesday burrito bar.

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