About Ohio Student Association

Formed in 2012, Ohio Student Association (OSA) is a statewide organization led by young people. OSA engages in values-based issue & electoral organizing, nonviolent direct action, advocacy for progressive public policy, and leadership development. On campuses and communities across Ohio, we organize young people to build independent political power.

We are young people breaking cultural, economic and political chains by collectively swinging back against systems of oppression. We do this through grassroots organizing, direct action, and leadership development. We are a vehicle for people who believe another world is possible.

  • Latest from the blog

    Feeding the Streets: With Love & Revolution



    I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on Shawn.

    For a moment this morning, I didn't want to get out of the bed. But I was greeted by life giving acts of community care, and I was reminded of Shawn's spirit. I set my intentions today on wanting to live like bro on his best days, happy fearless and free, and certainly full of love. 

     I was planning on seeing Shawn this Saturday at "Feed the Streets", it hurts that I won't physically get to be with him. But because today I'm choosing to be by happy fearless and free, I'm going to show up and show out for him and our community this Saturday. 

     Please join us as we support Pursuing Our Dreams and our brother MarShawn McCarrel in their monthly "Feed the Streets" initiative this Saturday February 20, 2016

    "We will be building and giving back to the West side of Columbus. Come out and be the change you want to see. We will be servicing the people that reside in the Franklinton Square/W Broad St. Area. Please meet in the parking lot behind the White Castle. Address is 1539 W Broad St Columbus, OH 43222. #BuildCommunityMoveCommunity"

    We know that our brother MarShawn was about that action! And we know that he loved on his people so deep and fiercely. Let's continue his legacy!

    Visit the Facebook event page for more frequent updates.

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    For Our Brother MarShawn McCarrel



    On Monday, February 8th, we lost our beautiful brother and comrade MarShawn McCarrell.  The symbolism of his choice to take his life at the front door of the Ohio Statehouse is not lost on us. He knew what was killing him, and us, and he would leave no mysteries. We fought alongside MarShawn to end state-sanctioned violence against Black people.  Time and time again, as police gunned down more people in Ohio and across the nation we demanded change. We shut down malls, police stations, courthouses, and that very same statehouse. We didn't get justice or accountability from our elected officials when John Crawford, Tanisha Anderson, or Tamir Rice were killed. We were told to wait, or that we didn't have the facts, or that we were knocking on the wrong person's door.  Our elected officials repeatedly told us they would stand by the system in place over our people.  Like many before him, Marshawn gave his life to the Black freedom struggle, and we will continue to fight in his name.


    MarShawn was a soldier for the liberation of all people.  His spirit was effervescent with visionary beauty, creativity, and love.  He marched 11 miles for justice for John Crawford, rallied at the Statehouse to defeat Stand Your Ground, and joined in protests to recognize violence against Black cis- and trans women.  He built up Ohio Student Association into a strong grassroots organization with a presence across the state and a reputation across the country.  He helped launch Freedom Side, a coalition of youth-led racial justice organizations modeled after the Civil Rights Era Council of Federated Organizations (COFO).


    Marshawn started his own organization Pursuing Our Dreams, where he worked with young people on the West Side of Columbus to organize and support the community he grew up in.  Every month, POD hosted Feed the Streets.  They would make sandwiches to feed folks, and distribute winter clothing when it was cold.  He was inspired by the traditions of the Black Panthers and Young Lords—Black and Chicano freedom organizations that knew fighting for the liberation of our people must include supporting the basic needs that our society denies us.  We must do for each other, what the state and the society will not.  He always reminded us of the importance of loving care for each other to our liberation.  


    MarShawn lived the commitments that many of us talk about every day.  While he worked tirelessly to honor the dead, he lived every day for the living.  He took on night shifts in order to organize during the day.  While he led rallies and provided security at protests, he built alternative institutions to transform his local neighborhood.  While he traveled the country to learn about and train others in social change, he worked with poor and working class folks in Columbus.  Every day, he was grounded in the needs and demands of the struggle for freedom and liberation. 


    In the end, Marshawn said his demons won, and nothing could be more devastating.  Those demons walk amongst us still but Shawn never will again. Within our own organization and the movements we are a part of we will always lift up the importance of mental health and taking care of each other. None of us are strong enough to go through this struggle alone. Collective care must replace self care, and, now more than ever, we must lean on one another for support.


    Rest in Peace, Rest in Power, Brother.  We love you.  Your death is a painful reminder of the urgency of our cause.  We believe that Black Lives Matter and we believe in Black Futures.  We will continue your work to transform our society into one where each person’s intrinsic value is recognized.  We will continue to fight all forms of injustice, as we work to build and feed our communities in every way.  We will continue to fight for our people, from a place of love, humility, and urgency, as you always did.  


    The next Feed the Streets will take place on February 20 from 1-3 PM.  Meet us to build MarShawn’s dream in the parking lot at 1539 W. Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43222. You can also support the Legacy Fund his family has started in his name here: https://www.gofundme.com/marshawnmccarrel





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    Our City, Our Stories, Our Future

    candidates_forum.jpg“I love the smell of civic participation in the evening,” sighed Torin Jacobs, teacher and organizer, to a crowd of over a hundred people ­ in a city where there are sometimes events with more candidates on the panel than members in the audience.

    October 1st. 10/1, the day we had been counting down to for months. The hours spent trying to prioritize the issues that face our city, the weeks spent refining the topics to focus the panel on, come to fruition. As though the insecurity imposed on communities for their meals, for their schools, for their jobs and for their families is simply an itinerary for the questions asked at a
    candidate’s panel, as though people’s lives can be twisted and squeezed tidily into a political agenda. Yet at 6PM on October 1st, what was happening in the theater of Fort Hayes High School was so much more.

    In attendance were school board candidates Gary Baker, Shawna Gibbs, Jim Hunter, Bernadine
    Kennedy Kent, Tina Pierce, Ben Tyson, and Eric Brown, along with city council candidates Zach
    Klein, Liz Brown, Joe Motil, Shannon Hardin, Jaiza Page, John Rush, Besmear Sharrah,
    Ibrahima Sow, Dimitrious Stanley, and Michael Stinziano. School board candidate Mary Jo
    Hudson and mayoral candidates Andrew Ginther and Zach Scott were not present.
    With the hue and cry towards the two empty mayoral seats, the brandishing of signs reading
    “BLACK LIVES MATTER,” the eruptions of “I can’t breathe” and “Is that a yes or no?" we were
    reminded that it was a time and a place for the people to talk. As speakers from the community
    explained their realities slowly and carefully to a panel that was given bare minutes to respond,
    we were reminded that it was a time and place for candidates to listen.
    The night was an exploration of the dichotomy of Columbus: when it is touted as economically
    thriving, business­friendly, diverse and progressive, entire swaths of our city are hidden. 1 out of
    7 kids can’t afford enough food to eat, and twice that are living in poverty. The cost of food,
    housing, healthcare, childcare and higher education are rising, and median income is falling.
    35% of Columbus households make less than $30,000 a year. Our schools and neighborhoods
    are segregated and unequal. Of the 50 largest cities in the US, Columbus is bottom­five for
    social mobility.

    So members of our community spoke to bridge this gap, sometimes tearfully. They spoke of the
    harsh discipline of black and brown schoolchildren. Of the way corporate and government
    entities have tried to wrest the control of schools from the community whose children would
    experience the brunt of it. Of the ways they’ve seen a low minimum wage seep through the
    crevices of families and lives, lingering long after the opening of insufficient paychecks from two
    or even three jobs. Of the unquestionable need for oversight of our police department, in a
    country where internal investigations and systemically faulty judicial processes corroborate the
    destruction of lives all the time. Keisha [last name?] closed out the night with a rousing song,
    her words “I forgot I had a freedom song” reverberating in the crowd. She invited everyone to
    repeat after her: I am open to myself and the world around me. It was a panel like nothing else.

    Ohio Student Association and the People’s Justice Project will be distributing voter guides,
    including the candidate’s stances on the four main issues of the night, in advance of the
    municipal elections on November 3rd.

    Written By Kenza Kamal

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