Students fight for their rights

Bob Moser and Bob Moser

For the participants in today’s Student Rights Awareness Fair, revolutionary thought will be carried from the classroom into the community.

Students in Linda Pertusati’s Ethnic Studies 201 course — Ethnicity and Social Movements — were encouraged to step outside the boundaries of a 50-minute class period and apply what they have learned to the real world.

“All too often students come into a classroom and feel no social responsibility when they leave the room,” Pertusati said. “This class provides an opportunity to put what they’ve learned into real action that means something to them.”

The Student Rights Awareness Fair will be open to the public today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in 101 Olscamp Hall.

In targeting their issues of concern, each group has chosen a problem that they feel should not only concern themselves, but the University student body as well.


Any BGSU student with a meal plan has most likely been confronted with the limitations that come with Flexfunds, which limit how much of a student’s meal plan can be spent in one place. Five students have come together to fight what they feel is a far too restrictive rule.

Food Freedom Fighters have a distinct goal locked in their sights: The end of Flexfunds.

“I think the school’s controlling too much of students’ money,” FFF member Brad Wagner said.

Through the creation of an informational website, distribution of flyers and the collection of petition signatures this fall, FFF hopes to show campus administration that an overwhelming majority of University students want the freedom to eat wherever and whenever they choose.

Even though administrators refused to end Flexfunds in the past, FFF member Will Young hopes that an overwhelming number of signatures will help amplify the dissatisfied voice of the student body.

“We’ll win because we pay their salaries,” Young said, “and paying customers should get what they want.”


If you’ve grown frustrated over required textbooks not being bought back for the following semester, you are not alone. A group of Pertusati’s students banded together to form Buy-Or-Not-To-Buy, and are pushing for accountability from professors.

Teachers fail to understand the financial burden students deal with, BONTB member Mike Dennison said, in reference to the high cost of textbooks that can not be sold back later.

The inconsistency of a course’s availability from one semester to the next, and new editions of textbooks each year are both prominent reasons that students have trouble selling their textbooks at the end of a semester.

Buy-Or-Not-To-Buy is working toward a requirement of professors to inform their students on the first day of class on whether or not the course and required textbooks will be bought back at the end of the semester.

According to Dennison, knowing this ahead of time would allow students to make an educated decision on whether or not they will even buy an expensive textbook, or would allow them the opportunity to share with classmates.

University senior Amanda Sharpe seemed hopeful that professors could be required to share this information with students in the future, even if it hurt profits at the local bookstores.

“They probably wouldn’t sell as many books,” Sharpe said, “so they [bookstores] wouldn’t like that. But we pay enough for our education right now, and it’s pretty wasteful to make us buy books just to throw them away later.”


University students whose religious beliefs do not fall in line with Catholicism or Christianity may feel that their customs and practices have not been recognized in the campus dining facilities. Students For Religious Equality came together out of this common frustration.

Cheryl Kandel, a member of SFRE, said she was drawn to the goals of the group after experiencing the restrictions on campus that only a religious minority faces.

“I joined because I have noticed the overwhelming dominance of the Christian religion on campus,” Kandel said.

Jewish, Muslim and Hindu dietary practices call for strict adherence to the preparation of their food, Kandel said, as well as the sanitation of the environment it is prepared in and utensils used to cook it.

Students For Religious Equality share the frustration that campus residents who follow these dietary practices feel, and are pushing for fair representation from the University’s dining services.

“Our focus is getting a kitchen or dining space where these religious diets can be met,” Kandel said.

In order to generate support from like-minded students on campus, SFRE has concentrated on the circulation of petitions to campus groups which hold religious affiliations. They have also reached outside the University community in an attempt to build coalitions with religious groups in neighboring cities.


During tight economic times at the state level, the decrease in funding given to public universities like BGSU has required students to shoulder added financial burden. The members of Show Me The Money believe that the University’s administration has not shared a fair amount of the cost, and want to rally support for a more hard-nosed review process of all financial decisions that are made.

In late September of this year, President Sidney Ribeau’s repealment of controversial raises awarded to members of his office staff was a direct result of pressure applied by the University’s Classified Staff Council.

While acknowledging the watchdog role that CSC has played for University students, Show Me The Money member Rachael Easler can see important steps that still need to be taken.

“The next step should be to look at some of the faculty positions,” Easler said, “and decide if those people are doing the work necessary for their salary.”

Further development of a student-based review board is the goal SMTM hopes to accomplish.

“If USG were allowed to approve expense decisions before they went into effect, students would have a much bigger voice on where money goes,” Easler said.


One of the groups at today’s Awareness Fair have been in the news quite recently. Reason Not Race!, who led a student march on Monday, are trying to put a stop to racial profiling by campus police.

“We feel that minorities are being targeted unfairly,” said RNR! member Jontae Pratt. “Whether our cars are pulled over, events are broken up or we are questioned about our activities.”

Monday’s march was deemed a success by RNR! after campus police agreed to an open-forum meeting in the coming weeks where students can report past instances of racial profiling.

RNR! will not rest on their laurels while campus police mull over the more than 200 signatures collected just a few days before Thanksgiving break. According to Pratt, the group will continue collecting signatures and testimonials for as long as it takes.

“We don’t just want to talk about this,” Pratt said, “we want to do something about it.”

As a whole, the five student groups have followed a developmental path that their professor Pertusati had hoped they discover. One of application and action on the knowledge they have taken from her lessons.

“For me,” she said, “education is useless unless you’re going to do something with it.”