Technical glitches during the live stream of a national teach-in did not deter a small group of Ohio University students and faculty members from joining the discussion.
About 20 people gathered in Grover Center yesterday to watch speeches by several labor and education activists and discuss how to take a stand in Athens.
The national event, which took place in New York City, was broadcast online and focused on public sector unions, debt and corporate greed.
“It’s pretty historic, what’s happening right now,” said Judith Grant, faculty coordinator for Defend Education, Ohio!, an OU activist organization.
Because of difficulties with the video stream from the national teach-in, Defend Education, Ohio! will post a video from the event on YouTube, Grant said.
OU was one of 269 colleges across the U.S. that registered to participate in the nationally broadcast Fight Back USA! teach-in, led by well-known activists Cornel West and Frances Fox Piven.
Laws restricting unions, such as the recently signed Ohio Senate Bill 5, were a popular subject during the teach-in speeches. The discussion that followed from students and faculty members watching in Grover Center focused on how those in Ohio can prevent the bill from going into effect.
“Educating people, talking to people is the first thing. Then, there is the action,” Grant said, noting that members of Defend Education, Ohio! will be working this quarter to gather signatures for a Senate Bill 5 referendum.
Ohio needs 231,149 signatures to get the referendum, which could prevent Senate Bill 5 from going into effect, on the ballot for the November election.
Andrew Kirkland, an OU senior studying history who attended yesterday’s teach-in, said he is motivated to take action in part because he is concerned about his future.
“If I don’t make any noise, I won’t have a job,” he said, adding that he is worried about state parks and museums closing — places he might want to work after graduation.
Norma Pecora, president of the OU chapter of the American Association of College Professors, also attended the teach-in in Grover Center and encouraged students to participate in the movement.
“It is difficult to get people actively involved, there’s no question,” she said.
Defend Education, Ohio! is a coalition of OU students and faculty members “committed to the idea that education is a fundamental right of citizens” that is “aiming to combat the privatization of the public,” according to its website.
The organization’s first teach-in took place March 2 in Baker University Center and spanned five hours and included speeches from nearly 30 faculty members.
The coalition is planning more events for later this quarter, including a documentary viewing on College Green.