Coalition letter to President Drake

December 2, 2015

 

President Michael V. Drake

205 Bricker Hall

190 North Oval Mall

Columbus, OH, 43210

 

Dear President Drake,

 

We, the undersigned student organizations, have rallied together today to raise our voices as one. As students at The Ohio State University, we see our institution make decisions in the name of enhancing the Buckeye experience and improving our academic mission. These decisions are laden with secrecy, and include selling out our energy systems to a fossil fuel corporation, sourcing our food from farms with inhumane conditions, and investing in corporations that support Israeli apartheid. We pay exorbitant tuition prices to go to this university, yet our money is squandered supporting corrupt practices. These decisions are made in our name, yet do not reflect the values of students and the Buckeye community as a whole, and they perpetuate a system of racism.

 

When students take issue and propose alternatives, our voices are denied or falsely placated. This is not a democratic system, and our concerns are not represented. In spite of these experiences and past decisions made by this institution, we hold hope in the ideal of a socially just Ohio State. Students and workers need to have a say in the decisions that impact us. We call for a wholly democratic process in which students, workers, and faculty hold a majority seat at the table for decisions that impact us. Below, find a list of steps OSU must take in order to begin moving forward in truly representing the values of the Buckeye community:

 

  • Sign on to the Real Food Campus Commitment, ensuring our university supports a fair, humane, ecologically sound, community based, and transparent food system that prioritizes student voice.
  • The Request for Information process of the Comprehensive Energy Management Plan stops immediately, and Ohio State University ceases from all current future endeavors to privatize our public university and cater to corporate interests.
  • To withdraw its investments in entities (ie. Boeing, Caterpillar, etc) complicit in the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories until they are no longer engaged in the violation of human rights and other practices that fail to adhere to the Ohio State’s endorsed Principles of Responsible Investment.
  • To cut ties with companies engaged in systematic prejudiced oppression on the basis of race, religion, nationality, country of origin, age, gender or orientation.

 

This coal symbolizes the dirty energy choices we fear you are about to make, and the coal for Christmas you receive for denying student voices. It doesn’t have to be this way. President Drake, you have a responsibility to your students to respond to our grievances.

 

Sincerely,

                          

United Students Against Sweatshops

OSU Coalition for Black Lives

OSU Divest

Real Food at OSU

International Socialist Organization

Student/Farmworker Alliance

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Take a Stand this Wednesday to Stop Corporate Takeovers

 

WHAT: Rally to Stop the Sell Out
WHEN: Wednesday, December 2nd at 3:30pm
WHY: To stop the sell out of OSU energy systems in order to protect workers, environment and public education.

 

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"We will never know whether parking privatization was a good financial deal"

Dr. Bruce Weide discussing in the Lantern how the administration covers up the truth about their privatization negotiations. He says, "Unless there is some sort of student uproar over continual obfuscation of the truth, I cannot imagine why the administration would change its ways." We must be that truth. 

 

Letter to the Editor: Privatization isn’t always the answer

Tuttle Park Place Garage is located at 2050 Tuttle Park Place, Columbus, Ohio. Credit: Muyao Shen / Assistant Photo Editor

Tuttle Park Place Garage is located at 2050 Tuttle Park Place, Columbus, Ohio. Credit: Muyao Shen / Assistant Photo Editor

Many Lantern readers might not know — and older ones might only vaguely recall — that in 2012, Ohio State privatized Columbus campus parking operations via a 50-year lease to QIC/CampusParc. At the time, I was a faculty representative in the University Senate and one of many faculty members who vehemently opposed privatization. There were several reasons for opposition, not the least of which was that our analysis showed it would be a bad financial deal for OSU. Fortunately, the University Senate unanimously approved a resolution in early 2013 asking the OSU administration to present an annual parking privatization accountability and transparency report to the campus community so everyone can see how the deal actually plays out.

There is a big problem with the A&T reports so far, however. The financial analysis has been notable not for its transparency, but rather for inappropriately treating the up-front lease payment OSU received in 2012 as if it were a $483 million gift to the OSU endowment fund. No mention has been made of the opportunity cost to OSU of having privatized parking operations: OSU used to accrue millions in net annual earnings from parking that are now going to QIC/CampusParc. The A&T reports have completely ignored this fact even though the terms of the lease require QIC/CampusParc to provide its financial statements to OSU.

So, last year I worked with someone in the OSU Business and Finance Office who graciously provided me with one critical earnings number from the QIC/CampusParc financials. The A&T report said that in fiscal year 2014 OSU distributed $22.7 million from parking privatization funds to various good causes around campus (such as student scholarships). My analysis showed that when opportunity costs are included, this was about $3.1 million less than would have been available to these causes if OSU had not privatized parking.

When I recently asked OSU B&F for the critical QIC/CampusParc earnings figure for fiscal year 2015 so I could prepare a similar comparison with this year’s A&T report, I was stymied. I therefore made a public-records request. Six weeks later, I finally got a reply: “The information that you requested is considered (a) trade secret of QIC/CampusParc, and thus exempt from disclosure under the Ohio Public Records Act.”

In other words, we the public will never know — indeed, according to the administration we have no right to know — whether parking privatization was a good financial deal for OSU. We face 47 more years of not knowing.

The good news is that one can estimate the figure OSU refuses to provide. I’ve done that and will continue to do so and let you know what I find via annual letters to the editor of The Lantern.

I predict the official A&T report this year will say that just over $22 million was distributed to good causes around campus. My analysis shows that when opportunity costs are included, this is about $6.3 million less than would have been available to these causes if OSU had not privatized parking.

As OSU prepares to privatize operation of more OSU physical facilities, please keep this experience in mind. Not only will you not see from the administration a substantive analysis of the actual financial implications of privatization before it happens, you will never see an honest accounting of the actual financial outcome that was realized (unless, of course, it is truly positive).

But you are sure to be deluged with vague, incomplete and glowing reports about how clever the administration was to have made the deal. History shows that faculty members are basically powerless to make a difference in this regard. Unless there is some sort of student uproar over continual obfuscation of the truth, I cannot imagine why the administration would change its ways.

 

Bruce W. Weide

Professor Emeritus

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The Comprehensive Energy Management Plan

The Comprehensive Energy Management Plan is in the second phase of three of business negotiations. In October, 2015, the university entered into the Request for Information (RFI) phase, to be followed by the Request for Proposals (RFP) in January.

In April, 2015, corporations interested in purchasing OSU's power and energy responded to the Request for Qualifications (RFQ). The RFQ details that opportunity to purchase the energy at OSU includes management of ALL utility systems on campus, and the production and distribution of energy throughout campus. It also sells includes the responsibility of logistics for purchasing and delivering fuel to campus.

In return, the RFQ promises that the new corporation will open up the facilities previously owned by the university for research opportunities for students and faculty. It also states that selling off will help OSU reach its energy savings goal, although those goals were never stated. 

Furthermore, the Statement of Authority reads that due to the Board Resolution No. 99-141 of the Board of Trustees, OSU's Senior Vice President for Business and Finance, Geoff Chatas, will have total authority in the decision making process. The last time that Chatas sold off parts of our public university, he was offered and accepted a job with the very same firm to whom he sold our school. Sound like a democratic university to you?

Bottom line: 

The Comprehensive Energy Management Plan is a plan to run our university like a corporation, selling off assets for profit and allowing corporations to determine the procurement of resources and the terms of research on energy and sustainability. We must stop this deal before we lose all public control over our university 

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