Students taking action

A_Mess_Cover_Walkout

3 recent assaults prompt rally, demand for change

By Richard Heck
Feb 5, 2002
Athens Messenger: front page

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About 200 Ohio University students rallied on the College Green on Monday to protest against several recent assaults on campus and to demand the OU administration do more to combat such violence.

While the student-initiated peaceful protest asked for students to walk out of classes at 11:30 a.m., the number who did so to join the rally was not able to be determined.

But despite a cold winter wind and snow showers, about a dozen speakers urged the 200 students to demand an end to campus violence.

The protest was sparked by three incidents on campus last month in which two women were sexually assaulted and a third was assaulted behind Lincoln Hall because of her sexual orientation.

“We don’t want OU to be known for violence,” said one of the speakers, none of whom identified themselves. “We cannot and will not allow violence and hate against women, gays and lesbians or minorities to be tolerated. This rally was planned to retake our campus and our safety.”

The students issued a wide ranging list of demands for consideration by OU administrators, including placing more emphasis on programming to heighten awareness of violence against women, homosexuals and minorities, for the university and state to adopt domestic partnership benefits, creation of a university women’s center and for the university to allow more freedom of speech on campus.

Originally, the organizers of Monday’s protest asked participants to meet at the Civil War memorial on the College Green, but the event was moved because university policies only permit rallies next to Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium.

Terry Hogan, OU dean of students, declined to comment about the demands, noting that his office just received the list Monday. “We’ll look carefully at each request the students have made and go from there,” he said.

Hogan also noted the university supported the students’ right to protest, but that the rally should not have infringed on class time.

“We would prefer that they did not disrupt the instructional process, but we respect the students’… feelings that this was important to do, because it is an important issue,” he said.

Several speakers at the rally, however, criticized that stance, which was echoed in an editorial by the student-run campus newspaper, The Post, that said a walk-out would be disrespectful to professors and to students trying to learn.

“We’re here today because sexual assault and hate crimes are a disruption of the educational process,” said a male speaker. “These are everyone’s issues.”

The organizers of Monday’s rally included several student groups representing a variety of constituents and issues, said Mickey Hart, coordinator of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Programs at OU.

Hart noted that some of the demands by the rally participants are being met by current OU programming, particularly with preventive measures. However, he noted, “We don’t do enough prevention as we should.”

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