The state budget has been approved and, while there is still work that needs to be done, there were some gains that were made that make the future look quite promising. One of the biggest wins is the Fair School Funding plan. We know that children represent our future, but for decades, Ohio’s budget has failed to invest in educating our kids.
However, this new plan changes everything. By fully funding public education, the Fair School Funding plan will increase opportunities and possibilities for students, no matter what their zip code is. It will help give students access to the resources and tools that they need to succeed and continue their education.
Another huge win within the budget is the expanded healthcare for new mothers. Every new mother will receive a year of medicare, after giving birth. This type of win will save lives. With the budget investing in affordable childcare, supporting mental health and wellbeing, and expanding priority health programs, the future is looking bright.
Nonetheless, we can’t give up yet. We must continue to fight together as students from all walks of life, so that we do not just earn some wins, but all of the wins we need to ensure an Ohio where everyone can thrive— no matter where we come from, what we look like, or how much money we have.
Heading into 2021, young people have continued to see and face plenty of issues that plague our campuses and communities. We have continued strong in our mission of #BuildingPower and #Organizing, fulfilling a vision of young people centered as independent leaders of meaningful and transformative change.
For OSA, the spring semester has been about continuing our fight against the criminal injustice system and working to make college more equitable and accessible. In March, we held a Higher Ed Livestream series in coalition with our partner organizations, Policy Matters Ohio, College Now Greater Cleveland, the Ohio Federation of Teachers, and the Ohio Poverty Law Center. The series included personally impacted storytellers and policy experts who discussed why we should end the transcript trap (watch here), the importance of expanding OCOG or the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (watch here), and how debt navigators can help students (watch here).
Earlier this month, Cleveland State and Case Western Reserve University OSA chapter members helped launch the Citizens for a Safer Cleveland ballot initiative campaign, which seeks to implement a charter amendment that would mean fair, independent investigations with real accountability for officers who commit misconduct. Students will be collecting signatures for the ballot initiative throughout the spring, and will be helping to get out the vote come the fall (follow the campaign on Facebook here).
Moving forward in 2021, our members, chapters, and teams are continuing their work in reimaging campus policing and reinvesting in student services, sharing our stories and voices around the student debt crisis to pressure our policymakers, and fighting for state-level policies that make college accessible to everyone, regardless of our race or income.
CHECK OUT OUR NEW STAFF!
We are proud to announce that Akii and Sammi have joined the OSA team as student organizers for Columbus and Cincinnati respectively. They will be helping #BuildPower in campuses and communities across Ohio, empowering young people to organize around the issues that matter most to us.
Akii Butler (He/Him)
Akii was born in Virginia Beach, VA and raised in Youngstown, OH. He is the OSA’s student organizer for the Columbus area as well as Kent State University. Before joining the OSA, Akii spent his time organizing during his time as a student for Kent State University, and after with a local organization. During his time with the OSA, Akii hopes to make an impact and bring together emerging and unique college students to help make the change that they want to see. One of his goals to bring change within the Higher Education system with the help of his peers and colleagues.
What do you hope to accomplish at OSA? During my time with OSA, I hope to make an impact on many of the students I’ll be working with. I want to show them that through organizing you can create change, no matter what the issue is.
Hey OSU students! Get involved with the OSA OSU Chapter! OSA is relaunching its OSU chapter! If you are interested and would like to get involved with the new chapter, please contact Akii Butler via email at email@example.com
Sammi Mathew (She/Her)
Sammi Mathew was raised in Cincinnati, OH, where she continues to operate as a Student Organizer for OSA. Within the past five years, Sammi has utilized communications, social media, campaigns and community organizing to advance women’s rights, immigrant rights, animal rights, and tenant rights. Sammi believes organizing is key to obtaining community-based solutions which break the patterns of systemic injustice, and achieving a just and liberating society for all people with power in the collective. In her free time, Sammi enjoys vegan food blogging, studying cooperatives and abolitionist approaches to injustice, unlearning and relearning, and assisting the Kentucky Anti-Eviction Network.
What do you hope to accomplish at OSA? As a Student Organizer with OSA, I plan to assist students in realizing their potential to organize for collective community power, and work towards a society that goes beyond the confines of the world that capitalism, white supremacy and misogyny have constructed in front of us. In this pursuit, I hope to help students work on strategic actions which result in the defunding of campus police, building out student worker unions, advocacy for national debt cancellation, and/or anything else students feel would create a more just campus for all students.
TAKE ACTION FOR HIGHER EDUCATION!
In order to make Ohio a state where everyone can thrive and reach their full potential, higher education must be accessible and affordable. OSA is actively working to fight punitive policies such as the transcript trap and fighting for student debt cancellation, which will help decrease the racial wealth gap in the country.
Student Debt & Transcript Trap Survey
Impacted by student debt or the transcript trap? Did you leave your university with outstanding student debt, and has it impacted your ability to graduate (i.e., was your transcript withheld)? Whether your college plans were disrupted due to the cost of higher education or because you had to take time off, your story matters to us. And if you’re currently struggling to navigate the crushing maze of paying off student debt, we hear you. Share your story below to help make change!
It is imperative we use our voices as students to advocate and fight for more accessible and affordable education. We are calling on President Biden and Ohio lawmakers to implement policy to end the student debt crisis and ensure every Ohioan can graduate and fulfill their dreams, regardless of race or income. Sign this petition and show your support for education debt cancellation.
Between a critical election, an ongoing pandemic, an adjustment to remote learning, and the struggles of trying to afford an education while paying off debt and making ends meet, young people in Ohio had an overwhelming and difficult year in 2020. Nonetheless, even in these dire and unfamiliar circumstances, young people have continued to find ways to organize and fight for the issues that matter most to us. For the OSA team, this has entailed getting out the vote, showing up for racial justice, fighting for criminal justice reform, and more. Read all about our different work, wins, and reflections for the past year in our yearly report.
Despite the organizing challenges posed by social distancing and remote learning, OSA chapters have recently hit the ground running! The Case Western and Cleveland State chapters held new member orientations and OSA Denison held their very first organizing training.
In preparation for the 2020 elections, OSA members across the state have been hitting the streets (from a safe distance), making phone calls, and sending text messages to make sure that our communities are registered to vote and know what’s on the ballot! Indeed, we have made over 35,000 calls to verify voter registration. OSA members in Franklin County, Hamilton County, Cuyahoga County, and Dayton have even created their own voter education materials. Check out some of our voter education tools and resources here!
Alongside GOTV efforts, our members have continued to organize direct actions and advocate for the issues that impact us. In the Columbus Dispatch, Jarrod Robinson wrote a powerful Op-Ed regarding the crushing debt that impacts students. Wright State and Central State OSA members also held a recent forum featuring candidates Leronda Jackson and Mark Fogel (running for Ohio House District 40 and Ohio Senate District 6 respectively) that focused largely on higher education issues.
Shoutout to our eight artist fellows on completing OSA’s very first artist fellowship! Be it through music, painting, drawing, or other mediums, these artist-activists used their talents and passion to create culture, tell stories, and build community. In a recent live-streamed forum, the fellows discussed the creative projects they pursued through the fellowship and how the politics and social movement of today have impacted and inspired their work.
and The Ed4All Convening (October 19th – 20th 2019)
“Invest in Ed, Divest from Prisons: How shrinking incarceration can save higher education” is not just a list of statistics showing how our education system and our prison system leave black, brown, and poor students behind; it’s a document with stories from people seeing the system break day by day; it’s also our first step toward a concrete vision of how we can transform Ohio’s public institutions. In it you will find specific ways we can move funds into higher education away from mass incarceration.
Higher education is out of reach for many, yet remains the best corridor for upward mobility in the US. Money that should go toward funding students struggling to get ahead is invested in prisons and jails, even though it costs far less to educate an Ohioan than it does to incarcerate one. So, why are Ohioans being locked up more frequently than they are completing advanced degrees? OSA demands this pattern change.
But we’re not just talking about change. We’re launching a movement to make change. We invite you to join us at The Ed4All Convening (10/19 – 10/20), where we will bring together people who have seen the broken parts of the higher education system and craft a 2020 Ed4All Plan. We will take this bold vision into 2020 through political advocacy, voter education, campus organizing, and cultural interventions. And we want you to be part of shaping it. To register, please visit: http://bit.ly/Ed4AllConvening.
We will bring together students, professors, alumni, and community members to design a policy plan to open up higher education for ALL Ohioans.
Moving away from the cash money bail system, reducing incarceration practices that waste state dollars, expanding financial aid, rolling back debilitating student debt practices . . . these steps can give Ohioans — whether white, black, or brown — equal access to stability and a sense of safety within their community.