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OSA announces new executive director

Ohio Student Association is thrilled to announce our next Executive Director: Prentiss Haney!

Prentiss is a member of the OSA family - he started his organizing career as a field organizer for Organizing for America registering students and building campus organizing teams. After the 2012 election, he joined OSA to continue building student power. Since then, Prentiss has played many roles in the organization ranging from training coordinator to regional team lead. He has developed campus teams in two cities, trained hundreds of leaders and has led racial justice and higher education campaigns. In 2016, he joined the staff full time as our Communication Director building up a social media presence and strengthening our internal communication structures.

Prentiss has a deep commitment to Ohio and building the strongest vehicle for young people to learn the skills of resistance and community organizing. Our membership believes in his leadership and is ready to continue to fight for the communities and dignity we deserve especially in the current political moment.

- Stuart, former executive director

Statement from Prentiss

“I remember how it felt the first time I confronted power and won. It was 2013 and a group of us at Wright State had been planning a campaign to end police brutality at black social events on campus. The police had been harassing black student events and using excessive force to end them. Additionally, the university was charging black student thousands of dollars in security cost because black social events were deemed “high-risk” by a racist point-system the university developed.  

OSA was there from the beginning. They helped us craft our strategy and mobilize around the issue. However, what I remember most was how OSA rooted our struggle in dignity. When the university and other students couldn't see why it was important to end this type of state violence, OSA did. Ohio Student Association knew that the most marginalized communities deserve respect and power. So when we won, I saw what power looked like. I knew then OSA was the vehicle for me. Now four years later, I am still committed to this fight and I know OSA is the vehicle to unleash powerful youth leaders like me in 2013.  

My vision is to make Ohio Student Association the premier youth movement-training and organizing vehicle in Ohio. Young people must shift the political landscape and reimage what is possible. The 2016 election showed us that what we imagined as impossible is, in fact, possible. So let’s not hold back. It’s time for us as young people to reimagine our path to power. Youth engagement in the political process is key to determining our future and not only online but at local governments and universities across Ohio.

OSA is a movement-building organization teaching and practicing the craft of organizing, civic engagement, and creating movement moments. Our strategic method along with traditional organizing styles allows us to have a hybrid experience where youth are creating relational culture, fighting for progressive policies on universities & local governments while launching movement moments that create a collective identity and collective resistance.

I know the power of young people is unlimited. I see it every day in this organization. OSA has transformed my life. I owe it to OSA to continue building the premier youth movement-building organization in Ohio.”

- Prentiss Haney, Executive Director

 

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Recap: Catchin’ Bodies Summit in Ohio

Note: This blog was originally posted here on feministcampus.org

On June 11th and 12th, I had the privilege of attending the Ohio Student Association’s Catchin’ Bodies Summit. It was my first experience at an OSA event, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I encountered was a group of dedicated, hardworking, and compassionate people who worked their hardest to make everyone feel welcome. For me, the most uplifting part of the summit was meeting so many people who were not only interested in social justice, but specifically bringing justice to Ohio. As someone who plans on working in Ohio for years to come, it was refreshing to meet people who cared as much about the state as I do.

We started off by breaking into groups to practice resonance. Resonance is where members of the group share their stories, and the other group members acknowledge what parts resonated with them. Part of the challenge for some people is to simply listen to their peers, instead of sharing parts of their stories out of turn. Resonance encourages showing empathy and solidarity with one’s peers without purposely or accidentally one-upping each other. It was a fulfilling experience where I felt safe to share my story, and I could feel validated in my experiences.

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Feeding the Streets: With Love & Revolution

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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


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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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#Occupy4Tamir at Prosecutor McGuinty's Home

Occupy4Tamir.jpgOSA joined with Tamir Rice's cousin and hundreds of Cleveland community activists on Saturday to demand justice for the 12 eyar old child who was killed by police at a recreation center in his neighborhood. A symbolic funeral was held at a park in West Cleveland and the group marched through the streets of West Park to the home of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGuinty to demand action be taken to hold police accountable. In spite of white nationalist groups attempts to intimidate protestors, people of all races, ages, sexualities, genders and faiths gathered to demand that McGuinty do more to make sure that police cannot kill with impunity. 

This action took place just hours after the Brelo Verdict was read, finding the officer who stood on the hood of the car and unloaded his weapon into the car where an unarmed Black couple sat. In total, 137 shots were fired by dozens of police officers into the car of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.

There is a fundamental flaw in the criminal justice system, when prosecutors have no accountability when they fail to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. Prosecutors such as McGuinty rely on police officers to win cases every single day, and so often fail to put forth a winning case against police officers in situations of police brutality. 

The efforts of our current Governor Kasich and Attorney General Mike Dewine are superficial bandaids to this structural conflict of interest. This is why we need a fundamental shift in the power relationship between community and police in Ohio. 

Watch OSA leaders speak on this action and this injustice on Democracy Now and CNN.

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Ohio Students are "Drowning in Debt"

blogimage.jpgReposted from a Wednesday May 20, 2015 Article in The Columbus Dispatch By Catherine Candisky

OSA organizer Rachael Collyer graduated summa cum laude from Ohio State University this month, but the celebration has been subdued as she contemplates how to repay $28,000 in student loans.

On Wednesday, she wore swimming goggles and arm floaties before a subcommittee of the Ohio Senate to emphasize that she’s drowning in debt and fretting about her future.

“It is incredibly frustrating that despite doing everything I was told I needed to do to be successful, I now find myself in overwhelming debt,” said Collyer, a Cleveland Heights native and representative of the Ohio Student Association.

She was among a dozen students from colleges and universities across the state who urged the Senate Finance Committee’s higher-education subcommittee to boost funding to schools and increase financial aid to students as the legislators work on the upcoming two-year budget.

Subcommittee Chairman Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, said on Wednesday that he expects the Senate to increase state aid to colleges and universities, but details have not been decided.

“Ohio leads the nation in tuition restraint, but clearly more needs to be done,” he said.

Student-loan debt in the U.S. reached $1.2 trillion by the end of 2014. In Ohio, those graduating with bachelor’s degrees from state schools last year averaged about $30,000 in student debt.

“The weight of my accumulated debt weighs on me and leaves me fearful of the future,” said Alli Rigel, a recent Ohio State graduate trying to pay for medical school.

Tobi Akomolede, Senate speaker in the undergraduate student government at the University of Cincinnati, said a provision in the House-passed budget prohibiting tuition hikes in 2017 would help keep college affordable and restrict student debt, but more must be done.

“Increased state funding is crucial to prevent costs from coming back to students in the form of lower-quality education, gutted student-support services, stunted innovation and lack of cost-saving services,” Akomolede said.

Although tuition at Ohio’s four-year universities has decreased by an inflation-adjusted 2.4 percent in the past decade, the state’s annual per-student aid is $2,237 below the U.S. average.

A new report shows that most states, including Ohio, are spending less per student on higher education this school year than they did in 2007-08, the start of the recession.

Ohio has cut spending by 22 percent, according to the analysis released last week by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive research group that analyzes state and federal spending. Overall, all but three states — Alaska, North Dakota and Wyoming — have reduced aid to colleges and universities. Of those that cut spending, 31 have done so by more than 20 percent.

The report says less state aid means higher tuition for students and their families, pushing student-loan debt to record highs, surpassing both car loans and credit-card debt. About 60 percent of college students graduate with debt.

The House-passed budget includes 2 percent annual increases in higher-education funding. It also includes $7.5 million to help pay off the college debt of students with in-demand jobs who promise to stay in Ohio for five years.

In addition to providing more state aid to colleges and universities, the Senate might approve increased funding for need-based Ohio College Opportunity Grants, Gardner said. Several students testified that the grants helped them earn degrees without accumulating debt.

Gardner said other moves that would help are getting more high-schoolers to earn college credits through tuition-free early-college programs and renewing efforts to graduate more students in four years.

ccandisky@dispatch.com

@ccandisky

 

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Student Victory Against Ohio Poll Tax!

amelia2.jpgThe students who stood up to Ohio legislators' voter suppression tactics aimed at disenfranchising out of state college students could not be ignored. 

Amelia Hayes of Ohio Student Association joined Senator Nina Turner on an Ed Show interview on MSNBC last week to speak out against this provision snuck into a transportation bill.  

Governor John Kasich used his line-item veto authority today to kill language that would have required out-of-state college students who register to vote in Ohio to obtain in-state licenses and vehicle registrations within 30 days. 

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the governor let stand a new portion of the law requiring new residents to get an updated license and registration within 30 days. But he stripped out the measure linking that provision with voting registration. 

Ohio Student Association has advocated for expanding voting access, not limiting it. We want to see initiatives that exist in other places to enhance our democracy and support voting like automatic voter registration, online voter registration options and same day voter registration.

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Politics of Black Hair

Cleveland OSA members held their first Politics of Black Hair event last Wednesday, March 18th. This event launched a conversation around why black hair is political, including going through the history of black hair from pre-slavery to 1980.

The presentation however did not only focus on the political nature of black hair but went hand in hand with the time period. For example, in Africa pre-slavery, Africans believed that your hair was in direct relation to how close to God you were so people did not cut their hair often.

OSA believes this event is necessary because there aren’t many spaces for people to come together to discuss purely black culture in a way that is not separating the black community but is focused on bringing awareness to real issues that affect black people. Hair is one of those things.

Our next Politics of Black Hair event will be Wednesday April 8th from 6:30-8:30 at the Khnemu Lighthouse Foundation located at 966 East 105th Street Cleveland, Ohio 44108. Click here to RSVP!

 

 

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Students Stand Up for Higher Ed

lobby_day1.jpgOn February 25th Ohio Student Association joined with Young Invincibles, State Representative Kathleen Clyde, State Representative Dan Ramos and student government representatives from major universities from across Ohio to urge legislators to consider student impact in the 2015 biennial budget. 

"Capping tuition at unaffordable is not enough. We must invest in the future of Ohio's economy by investing in higher ed" said Rep Ramos. "Our governor has cut $3 billion in taxes, if we spent just 10% on need-based aid for higher education, we'd QUADRUPLE the amount of aid for Ohio Students."

In our high tuition and low-aid state, a college degree is becoming more and more inaccessible for Ohio's students. We joined together to hear stories from first generation college students, recent graduates, and young people who cannot afford to finish school because of slashed to need-based financial aid.

We are part of a national campaign Higher Ed, Not Debt because we believe every young person has the right to a high quality education from pre-K through college without being burdened with student loan debt. 

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