Home Campus Ohio U professor designed promotional material linked to controversial “No on Issue 3” campaign

Ohio U professor designed promotional material linked to controversial “No on Issue 3” campaign

7 min read

An Ohio University professor told students in one of his classes he designed campaign materials for an anonymous group that urges students to vote against Issue 3

An Ohio University professor created at least one of the controversial, anonymous anti-school levy materials that urge students to vote against Issue 3. The ad equates the cost of the proposed property tax increase with having less spending money for beer. 

Multiple students enrolled in Daniel R. Dahlen’s “Management of Promotions” marketing class said he presented his design for a “No on Issue 3” door-hanger during class on Oct. 1. Dahlen told his students that his private advertising firm, Dahlen Communications, Inc., was approached by the “No on Issue 3” campaign to target college students with anti-school levy rhetoric.

A slide from Dahlen’s in-class presentation on Oct. 1 with his door-hanger design pictured. Provided by students.

The door-hanger design, which has been placed on doors and car windshields of Athens residents over the past few weeks, pictures a beer bottle with the caption, “If the levy passes, it could cost you 3 cases a month” and the “No on Issue 3” campaign logo.

The New Political was unable to confirm whether Dahlen designed the back of the door-hanger, which provides further information about the campaign, or any of the other materials that “No on Issue 3” has distributed.

Dahlen denied the publication’s request for comment both in person and over email.

The Controversy Behind the Anonymous Group

The “Vote No on Issue 3” campaign, which began online under both “Students for A+hens Education,” and “Citizens for A+hens Education,” has yet to register its identity with the Ohio Elections Commission (OEC).

Besides posting signs and door hangers, the campaign has also placed stickers on city cigarette butt receptacles illegally, according to The Athens News.

If Students/Citizens for A+hens Education spends over $1,000 on the campaign, the group will have until Oct. 25 to register with the OEC, Debbie Quivey, director of the Athens Board of Elections, said in an email.

The group uses a private proxy domain to hide its online identity, which continues to obscure who is behind the campaign.

The organization is also funding online advertisements that link back to its websites and has promoted its content on Facebook.

All the physical and digital products produced by Students/Citizens for A+hens Education bear “Paid for by Heartland America, Inc.,” and “Not Authorized by any ballot issue committee,” at the bottom.

Research into Heartland America, Inc. revealed no immediate evidence of a political organization. The only two groups that share the same name are a now-defunct candle company in Canton, OH and an online catalogue company from Minnesota.

A spokesperson from Heartland America, Inc. of Minnesota told TNP that the company has no involvement with the Student/Citizens for A+hens Education campaign.

What is Issue 3?

Issue 3 is a proposed county-wide bond levy that will impose two property taxes if passed. The first tax will be 59 cents per $100 worth of property value and the second tax is an additional 5 cents per $100.

The levy has prompted a significant amount of local controversy. Besides the anonymous campaign, a group called Athens Area Citizens for Common-Sense Solutions also opposes the levy. There are also several pro-levy groups: Athens Parents for Equitable Education, and Vote Yes for Athens City School District.

Proceeds from the tax increase will go toward issuing bonds for the renovating, improving, and building of facilities and additions for Athens City School District’s schools.

If Issue 3 passes, the Athens School Board plans to tear down both East and Morrison-Gordon Elementary Schools and construct two new pre-K through third grade schools at where the previous buildings stood. The Plains Elementary School will be renovated and house fourth to sixth grades. The board also plans to tear down and reconstruct the Athens High School and make minor renovations to Athens Middle School.

The board has not decided what will be done with the West Elementary School building, according to The Athens News.

Cole Behrens, Nate Doughty, Alejandro Figueroa, Nathan Hart, Sarah Horne, Bo Kuhn, William Meyer, Ben Peters and Kat Tenbarge contributed to this report.

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  1. :-)

    October 25, 2018 at 9:05 PM

    If you go here (https://www.studentsforathenseducation.com/members) and sign up, you can then click into the member profile for the owner of the site. Look at the URL. It has the owner’s original user name which is an abbreviated version of their real name. Just a tip.


  2. A student

    October 25, 2018 at 9:29 PM

    Your a sick reporter for trying to blame the campaign on a professor at OU. You do realize what this could result in. Honestly sad. If you get the facts right in his class he specifically stated he didn’t design it. This is a pathetic piece that assumes insteads of stating facts. Get back to the drawing board junior


    • :-)

      October 26, 2018 at 9:59 AM

      Then why does the person who runs the “no on 3” campaign website have Dahlen Communications, Inc listed as an employer on her personal website?


      • (;

        October 28, 2018 at 11:11 AM

        Oh are you guys going to go after a student now. I’m sure that would look great on OU a student organization writing against another student of the university. That’s a real bobcat attitude


        • :-)

          October 29, 2018 at 11:28 AM

          They aren’t writing anything about a student. I’m not associated with this publication. Just an Athenian who doesn’t like shady, anonymous groups meddling in local decision making efforts.


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