L-I: Alternative Commencement & Protest against J.C. Watts at OSU

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at SPAMOSU.EDU
Mon Jun 5 13:11:04 MDT 2000

Dear Leftists:
Unlike Antioch College whose students collectively & democratically chose Mumia
Abu-Jamal for commencement speaker, at the Ohio State University where no
democracy exists, the administration, with the support of the
Republican-dominated Board of Trustees no doubt, unilaterally imposed J.C. Watts
as commencement speaker (with the former president of the "undergraduate student
government" rubber-stamping President Kirwan's choice). The commencement
ceremony will take place on June 9.
Student activists are organizing alternative commencement activities in
opposition to J.C. Watts (below is one of the flyers for alterna-commencement.
See also Kelli Douglas, "Students Plan Alternative to Watts at Graduation," _The
Lantern_, 2 June 2000.)
After the strike of service & skilled-trade workers (the majority of whom are
African-American) during which class-based oppression & institutional racism at
OSU were criticized, the administration made a particularly poor choice in
bringing J.C. Watts -- a very conservative Black Republican. (It's as bad as
bringing Clarence Thomas.) The choice symbolically tells us that the only blacks
welcome at OSU are conservative ones who are opposed to affirmative action & in
favor of the privatization of everything -- especially public schools -- and the
"free market" without unions. Watts likes "strong defence" & the war on crime
and opposes reproductive freedoms as well.
Please write to President Kirwan (kirwan.1 at osu.edu) and let him know what an
awful choice J.C. Watts is for commencement speaker. Or contact the Office of
the Board of Trustees:
The Ohio State University
Board of Trustees
210 Bricker Hall
190 North Oval Mall
Columbus, OH 43210
Phone: (614) 292-6359
Fax: (614) 292-5903
Commencement keynote speaker J.C. Watts stands for everything OSU is supposed to
be against:
* Watts has been outspoken in favor of dismantling affirmative action. OSU
administrators claim to be fighting against such assaults on affirmative action.
* Watts supports the privatization of public schools and the weakening of
government accountability. OSU administrators claim to be opposed to
privatization trends in public education.
* Watts wants to eliminate targeted programs for disenfranchised groups (while
supporting targeted programs that benefit the rich and corporations). OSU
administrators claim to be working against such trends by expanding programs
that will diversify the university and promote equity.
* Watts supports meritocracy while ignoring institutionalized racism, sexism,
homophobia, and class-based oppression. OSU administrators claim to be committed
to combating these institutional inequities.
* Watts supports special rights for married couples and privatization of health
care. OSU administrators claim to support expanding and improving health care
services and extending coverage to domestic partners.
In all of these ways, Watts contradicts university goals (for more info on J.C.
Watts' voting records, see, for instance,
http://www.aclu.org/vote-guide/Watts_J.html &
Watts' views are shared by the overwhelmingly Republican OSU Board of Trustees
(see Kate Moore, "Republicans Control OSU Trustees Board," _The Lantern_ 1 June
2000, at http://www.thelantern.com/archives/gendisp.asp?id=959869890890).
Furthermore, recent budget restructurings, university-corporate contracts,
student services restructurings, subcontracting of university jobs, and other
trends toward corporatization at OSU suggest affinity with Watts' conservative
views. Is this the direction we want OSU -- a public institution -- to take?
Let your university leaders know J.C. Watts does NOT represent or support
university goals. Don't let the university become OSU, Inc. Turn your back on
Watts in support of more democracy and less meritocracy!
* TURN YOUR BACK ON WATTS to show the university leaders that he does not
reflect OSU's values or goals.
* Click if Watts' message "bugs" you.
* Wave or hold up red flyers if Watts' message bugs you.
* Write a message to President Kirwan (kirwan.1 at osu.edu) telling him that J.C.
Watts contradicts Kirwan's stated goals and values for OSU. Ask him why Watts
was chosen for commencement speaker if he does not represent the purported
values of the OSU and its administration.
* Talk to people about the problems of the corporatization of universities.
Don't let OSU become a corporate-driven institution guided by market values.
* Look for red banners and alternative commencement activities for a
commencement experience that embodies the spirit of grassroots public space!
Join the struggle to democratize the university and challenge the control that
the Board of Trustees and top administrators have on OSU policies and budget
Resist corporatization and bring this public institution back into the hands of
the public and the entire OSU & Columbus community. *****

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