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Students March in Protest of Tuition Hikes, Arrested Students

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“Solidarity” was the idea echoed throughout the crowd as Ohio University students gathered on College Green to protest recent tuition hikes and the arrest of four students who staged a sit-in at last week’s Board of Trustees meeting.

Over 100 students, many with red squares pinned on their shirts, joined in the “Chop from the Top” protest rally on College Green Thursday to continue an ongoing opposition to the 1.6 percent tuition hike the Board of Trustees approved Friday, as well as rally around the four protestors who were arrested for disrupting a lawful meeting of the Board of Trustees in Walter hall Friday.

The rally, organized in part by Ohio University Student Union, was a success in the eyes of Student Union President Jacob Chaffin.

“For a rally to show support for the four people who were arrested I think there was a lot of energy. People were angry. They really did come out in full force for a worthy cause to show solidarity,” Chaffin said.

Students began with speeches at the war memorial before marching down Court Street, temporarily stopping traffic, and onto Park Place, where they stationed themselves in front of President Roderick McDavis’s residence. Students from the crowd shared their feelings while chalk was used to scrawl impassioned messages on the side walk in front of the house.

According to Ellie Hamrick, one of the four students who will face Athens Municipal Court Monday, the goals of the rally were to continue to pressure the university to freeze salaries of administrators who earn above $100,000 per year, as well as use the already approved tuition hike solely to fund need-based scholarships for incoming students. In addition, protestors were petitioning the university to not press charges against the students they say were participating in healthy civil disobedience.

Ellie Hamrick, in speaking to the audience, responded to the words of McDavis, who was quoted as hoping that, in the spirit of shared governance, respectful conversations about these issues could continue.

“Now this all sounds good, but I have three questions for Dr. McDavis. Number One: What shared governance? Number Two: What respect? And Number Three: What civility?” Hamrick said.

Hamrick, who leads STAND Against Genocide on campus, expressed frustration with the administration’s continued unwillingness to work with students.

The other three students arrested, Megan Marzec, Jessica Linder and Eden Almasude, all spoke at the rally.

“Strong voice is necessary. We’ve had so much support just from the small action of just a few people, we’ve gotten from letters of solidarity spanning from Germany, to Taiwan, to Montréal. Student solidarity is extremely powerful,” Marzec said.

Ohio University Student Union has already received over $1,000 in donations to support the arrested students, according to their Facebook page.

Cruz Bonlarron Martinez, a Ohio State University student of Puerto Rican Descent and member of Buckeyes Organizing for Student Solidarity visited the event to express his support for the cause.

“I am here to support OU right now, especially after the arrests have gotten international attention. I have friends who are involved in the student movement in Puerto Rico that heard about the arrests here,” he said.

Security was tight through the entire event, with OUPD police officers stationed outside Cutler hall and around the president’s residence. At no point did the protest become violent nor did the protestors complain about the officers’ presence.

 

 

CORRECTION: Cruz Bonlarron Martinez is of Puerto Rican descent

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