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Students, faculty speak out against Issue 2

A proposed student rally against Issue 2 fell short of expectations Thursday morning after about 20 people gathered at the Union Oval to support the cause.

The group, about half students and half faculty members, chanted with signs and voter registration forms, urging students to vote against Issue 2 in the November election.

The event was the first of several planned by the College Democrats, the organization that sponsored it.

“We were hoping for a larger movement, but every single student counts,” said senior Danni McConnell, College Democrats president. “We really wanted to reach out and raise awareness, which I think we still did today.”

The group cited poor weather and quick organizing as reasons for the low turnout. Eleven voter registration cards were collected in about 45 minutes after the rally, McConnell said.

“The important thing was getting students registered to vote,” she said. “Even if we just registered one student, I would have been happy.”

Issue 2 – the voter referendum on Ohio Senate Bill 5 – limits the ability for all public sector employees to collectively bargain and strike, affecting more than 350,000 employees.

It is currently on hold until the referendum is voted upon in the November election.

When the bill passed in the Ohio Senate in early March, more than 300 people gathered at the Union Oval to protest. Two graduate students organized the event overnight.

This student rally was slightly different, as it was a response to a recent release of public records relating to Senate Bill 5, said senior Daniel Gordon, who also helped organize the event.

“We didn’t want to lose that energy or organize after this was old news,” Gordon said.

The documents revealed Sean FitzGerald, the University’s general counsel, crafted Senate Bill 5’s amendment excluding professors from collective bargaining eligibility.

The Inter-University Council, an association representing Ohio’s pubic university presidents, submitted the amendment to the state using FitzGerald’s language, which was eventually signed into law.

“This doesn’t only affect our teachers – it directly affects us as students,” Gordon said. “The credibility of BGSU as an institution is pretty damaged by this … but we can defeat Issue 2, stand up for public workers and prevent the diminishment of our education.”

Some students, however, are urging their classmates to do their research before heading to the polls against Issue 2.

“We’re happy [Issue 2] is on the ballot, because it gives people a chance to debate and discuss it, and more time to create an informed opinion,” said Chance Stoodt, vice chairman of the College Republicans. “We encourage students to do their own research and not just accept secondhand information.”

Issue 2 asks public employees to pay the same amount into their pension and health insurance as private employees to save the government money, Stoodt said.

It also retains some collective bargaining rights for public employees, including wages, he said.

“In times of economic hardship, it’s important for families to tighten their belts until they can get back on their feet,” Stoodt said. “The government is doing the same thing right now, and [Issue 2] is the effect of it.”

David Jackson, president of the Faculty Association, the University’s faculty union, appreciated student support of the faculty at the rally.

By raising awareness, the group furthered the case for the administration’s voluntary recognition of the faculty union regardless of Issue 2, Jackson said.

“If you have faculty members who are empowered – who are and have a real voice in our work lives – it’s better for the students,” he said. “To build a better, more trustful relationship and move forward, we must have voluntary recognition regardless of Issue 2.”

The faculty union and administrators are currently bargaining for their first contract. Negotiations began in July and will continue under current law until the November election results are announced.

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