Home Politics Student groups get together in first General Assembly

Student groups get together in first General Assembly

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Construction on E.W. Scripps Hall didn’t stop student activists from gathering Friday afternoon to discuss how Ohio University should spend the $1.2 million that was originally intended to go to a new house for President Roderick McDavis.

Hanging signs from past protests from the scaffolding on the building while a police officer stood near Alden Library, approximately 50 students gathered in a public forum to share ideas on how the money once allocated for the property on Coventry Lane could be better used for students.

Esther Brueggemann, a junior studying history, said that the event was the third one in a trilogy discussing the poor spending habits of the university.

“Starting with the Bat Rally, we really gathered a lot of attention for our cause,” Brueggemann said. “We can’t let this go on, with the university spending money wherever they think they can, when we are sitting here demonstrating all these places that the money would be spent instead.”

Those in attendance picked the way they felt this money could be spent and split into four groups: affordability, well-being, unionization efforts, and campus development.

Once in the groups, students spoke about why they were there and why they felt it was important that the university listened to their chosen issue. The original intentions were to rotate so that everyone present could discuss several issues, but it was decided about 20 minutes in that participants would be more comfortable having deeper discussions about a single issue.

At the end of the formal rally, a delegate from each of the four groups came to a microphone on the stage of the amphitheater to explain what they felt were the most pressing issues.

The delegate from the well-being group talked about funding the Survivor Advocacy Program and intersectional training for those who work with victims of sexual assault. They also pushed for “comprehensive advertising” for any office that completes the training, as well as “cultural competency” classes at orientation or with a required online component.

Those who discussed affordability also pushed classes on cultural competency on the terms of those requesting it. In addition, they wanted transparency in how the university spends money. Finally, those who saw affordability as the biggest problem wanted students to get a say in how 29 Park Place is used in the future. A university-wide vote was suggested, giving students a final say in what the house would be used for.

No specific demands on how to spend the $1.2 million came from the group who saw unionization as the biggest problem. Their only request was for the “escalation” of student unionization by recruiting new resident assistants and by pushing to create unions for teaching assistants and graduate assistants.

Finally, the group of students focusing on campus development and sustainability talked about the lack of requirements for students to learn about how to be a more ecologically friendly school. They wanted to push for an addition to the summer requirements for incoming freshmen, which currently includes Alcohol EDU and a sexual assault program called Not Anymore.

Their suggestion for the money was that it be put towards funding the Office of Sustainability. Ellenore Holbrook, who was the delegate for the campus development group, suggested that the money be put towards “building a coalition” between the Athens community, the Office of Sustainability, the Student Sierra Coalition, Climate Action Now, and students on campus.

Holbrook also pointed out that the university has a plan to be running on clean energy by 2075, which she said was unacceptable.

“That’s ridiculous,” Holbrook said. “We need to be running on green energy well before then. There are entire countries running on clean energy, and there’s no reason we can’t as well.”

The rally officially ended with a vote to move forward with a summer campaign. The campaign will focus on finding ways to express the demands to the university and to the student body as a whole.

Sasha Gough, a freshman majoring in creative writing and a member of F*ckRapeCulture and the Ohio University Student Union, said the rally made her excited for the fall semester.

“Student Union has a lot planned for the future,” Gough said. “Even with all the seniors leaving, we’ve got a lot going on. It might take a while, but we’ll see results eventually.”

The event was followed by free pizza for all in attendance as well as performances by Style Star and Near Hills, local musical groups. Many joked that the final show could be called “rally fest.”

People walking by Scripps Amphitheater were welcome to join the festivities and many did.  Those in attendance showed up for Style Star’s fun, off-color obscenities and Near Hill’s smooth original songs and stayed for speeches from groups like F*ckRapeCulture and New Black Lives Action Coalition, or New BLAC.

Freshman pre-physical therapy major Allison Hicks thought it was great that people came to the General Assembly who don’t normally come to these kinds of events.

“People are going to get a better feel for what each organization is like,” Hicks said. “Those who stopped by got a feel for the ideas people had, which is great, because we came up with some really interesting stuff that we can work on.”

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