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OU Student Union: More than a riot on college green

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First and foremost, the Ohio University Student Union is a student started and student-run organization.  We are dedicated to the fight for affordable and equitable public higher education for all.  We believe that the purpose of education is to empower students to participate in the collective transformation of the world. To that end, we mobilize students in the fight for a radically democratic university; a university governed by organized students, faculty and staff toward mutually beneficial outcomes.

We are driven by our conviction that a democratic and liberated society requires democratic and liberated institutions of education united under the following principles:

Student autonomy—each individual student is the master of his or her own learning and development.

Student solidarity—the interests of each student are the interests of all students.

Student power—students organized democratically on the basis of shared interests have the power to radically transform our university and our society.

Student liberation—students are liberated in the process of fighting for a world free of oppression and exploitation.

Public higher education must be equally and readily accessible to all current and aspiring students regardless of race, gender, economic class, immigration status or any other categories that are used to exclude us from our universities. We believe that a legitimate university administration acknowledges our rights as students to collectively and democratically negotiate the formal terms of our education. It is our right as students to disrupt or challenge illegitimate administrators.

We are a relatively new student group, only a few years old, but we have already shifted the campus dialogue on student rights. We fight tuition hikes, advocate for student trustee voting rights, write letter after letter to the editors of The Post and host educational events on the university budget and the proud protest history of the OU community. Our push for student trustee voting rights for the past two years was taken up by both tickets in last spring’s Student Senate election and by the newly appointed student trustee.

However, we are not satisfied with the idea that senators who serve on Student Senate will best represent our interests as students. The majority of our senators recently endorsed a language modification in Ohio House Bill 111 that would change the proposed law from mandatory student trustee voting rights to allowing the board to choose whether or not to permit student trustees the right to vote.

And after they had already passed approval of the modification, the senators come to our meeting and attempt to explain why they decided to endorse the watered down wording. They spoke of politics and speculated on when and how we would gain power in the university bureaucracy.

We say: our power in our institution is too important to be left up to the whims of politicians in Columbus. This is why we must be our own advocates; we cannot trust our representatives, student senators or Ohio state legislators, to withstand the pressures of partisan politics. The university power structure needs to be as direct as possible to ensure our shared interests are being met. To every student a vote.

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