Home Politics Protesters interrupt Board of Trustees meeting, 3 charged

Protesters interrupt Board of Trustees meeting, 3 charged

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No guaranteed tuition hikes.

 

Fully fund the Survivor Advocacy Program on their own terms.

 

No new pipelines.

 

These were the chants of about 25 protesters as they interrupted the Ohio University Board of Trustees Friday morning. One minute later, the trustees suspended the meeting and left the room, and three of the protesters were escorted out of the room in Walter Hall by the Ohio University Police Department.

 

The students escorted out by OUPD were Claire Chadwick, a senior English major and the leader of the chants, Bekki Wyss, a senior gender and social change major and Andrew Lake, an alumus, according to an Ohio University Student Union press release. They were charged for disrupting a lawful meeting and have arranged for a pretrial date with Athens County Municipal Court for Feb. 16.

 

This comes a day after three other protesters were charged by Athens Police Department with persistent disorderly conduct when they marched in downtown Athens streets protesting tuition hikes. Those students were all Student Senate members: president Megan Marzec, College of Arts and Sciences senator Kyle Tussing and SAC senator DJ Amireh. Chadwick and Wyss are also Senate members.

 

Administrators said that although they encourage debate and discussion on campus, they were disappointed with the actions the protesters took.

 

“I absolutely appreciate the students’ concerns and the fact that they want to express their voices,” Jenny Hall-Jones, Dean of Students, said. “It just always breaks my heart when they choose to get arrested. But I understand that it is something that they’re doing as part of their civil disobedience.”

 

During a media event, President Roderick McDavis echoed similar sentiments.

 

“I think it’s always beneficial to have conversations about whatever issues that may exist on our campus,” he said. “I hoped that we could have had some conversations before today, and unfortunately, that did not occur.”

 

Five minutes after the protesters left, the trustees reentered the room and passed a resolution to increase incoming students’ tuition by 5.1 percent. This was done to prevent losses as the university starts its OHIO Guarantee Plan, more commonly known as “guaranteed tuition”. The tuition for incoming students in 2015 will be $11,548 per semester for four years at OU.

 

Chairman David Brightbill called the passing of the resolution “a historic event”, as OU is the first college in the state of Ohio to have guaranteed tuition. At the same time, however, he said that he “did not find joy” at increasing tuition and making it harder for students to pay for college.

 

Meanwhile, over 70 protesters moved to the Civil War Monument to continue protesting the tuition hike as well as tell personal stories of student debt and the cost of tuition. The crowd, then reduced to about 30 people, moved to the Athens County Courthouse while Chadwick, Wyss, Lake, Marzec and Tussing received their pretrial date. More than ten police officers were visible at both the College Gate and across the street from the Courthouse.

 

Outside of the tuition increase, the board passed eleven other resolutions out of the thirteen on the agenda. Most concerned new construction projects, one being a natural gas pipeline that runs under Dairy Lane, moves under the Hocking River and enters the Lausche Heating Plant. Another resolution approved completed designs for seven building and road projects at OU, including improving the President Street Academic Center, opening Bobcat Lane near Baker Center to the public and the demolition of “Back South” Green dorms (Cady, Foster and Brough.)

 

During the discussion on the projects, trustee Sandra Anderson said that the University Resources Committee talked about “being mindful to the disruption on campus” about the magnitude of construction projects on campus. This came up after complaints of the numerous construction sites at OU this school year, including the repair of Park Place and and West Mulbery Road, the construction of new South Green dorms and the continued construction of Schoonover Center of Communication.

 

“I want to make sure that however we time it or plan it, we try to minimize the impact on anyone so that a four-year student doesn’t spend all of their time walking around orange fences and construction sites,” she said.

 

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