Ohio State students weigh in on campus climate following Black Lives Matter protests

More than 400 people – largely Ohio State students – rallied outside the Ohio Union before staging a sit-in inside the building on April 21 to protest Ohio State’s relationship with the Columbus police following the recent murder of Ma’Khia Bryant by the Columbus police. Credit: Jessica Langer | Campus LTV Producer

Kendall Beard and others Moritz College of Law students staged a protest in May 2021 after law school fails to acknowledge shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant like George Floyd.

University spokesman Chris Booker said in an email that Ohio State combats racism through education, scholarships, and numerous programs and initiatives, such as the implementing non-policing measures to improve safety after hearing concerns shared by students.

However, Beard said he felt face-to-face discussions between students and the university were lacking. He said the Ohio state administration was loudest at the height of the protests, making their actions appear performative.

“It was happening in our community, and everyone was like, ‘Oh, we’re sorry, but you have three exams next week,'” said Beard, a sophomore law student and member of the Black Law Student. Association. . “There really wasn’t a proper time to grieve. There wasn’t enough time to really process what happened.

Washington Cole, a sophomore in operations management, said that while some Buckeyes are advocating for change, Ohio State is still a predominantly white school and most students cannot relate to the everyday fears of black students.

“Because I wake up every day and I’m a black woman, I think when my brother wakes up every day, when my friends wake up every day, they realize they’re waking up and they’re sensitized to the social and societal hierarchy that exists in our country,” said Cole, Special Initiatives Ambassador for the Black Student Association. “I don’t think a lot of white college students think about it every day, because they don’t have to.”

Cole said the university should require diversity and inclusion training to help students better understand and understand what an average black student might be going through. She said Ohio State should always amplify voices of color, not just during Black History Month.

Organizations like BSA provide black students with a safe space from the systems of oppression they face every day, Cole said.

Ramon Obey, a third-year African-American and African studies student, said the efforts of student activists educated others, but had not otherwise brought about effective change on campus due to the lack of coalition among militant groups.

Booker said Ohio State is “committed to a safe and welcoming campus, a complete and inclusive education, and a truly anti-racist community.”

Booker said Ohio State combats racism and racial inequality through education, scholarship, research, and numerous programs and initiatives — including the RAISE initiative and cohorts within the Multicultural Center of the Office of Student Life and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Booker said the university has also implemented non-policing measures to improve off-campus safety, such as permanent security lighting, a full-time independent licensed social worker in the off-campus area, and partnerships with community organizations.

“Ohio State has also worked to meet the mental health needs of BIPOC students by conducting outreach to marginalized communities and embedding a counselor on ODI,” Booker said.

Beard said Ohio State has acted with “pamphlet diversity,” promoting the number of black students on campus and the scholarships given to them. Instead, he would like Ohio State to conduct “proactive diversity,” which looks at what dangerous stimuli or environmental factors make it unsafe for black students to come to college.

“It’s hard being the minority where it seems like the only thing they care about is you being there, and that’s it,” Beard said.

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