As a three-time Alum of The Ohio State University, it is important that I share a few units that are particularly important to me as a social worker and scholar activist. These include the College of Social Work, the Office of Diversity, the Hale Center, William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library, and Ohio State’s response to civil unrest on campus. (Contents in black font below are quoted materials.)
College of Social Work
“I was a student for 10 years at Ohio State and I spent 7 of those years in the College of Social Work. I have since worked 21 years in the College of Social Work as faculty and as an administrator.” ~J. Meshelemiah
The College of Social Work, through excellence in teaching, research, and service, prepares leaders who enhance individual and community well-being, celebrate difference, and promote social and economic justice for vulnerable populations. The College fosters social change through collaboration with individuals, families, communities, and other change agents to build strengths and resolve complex individual and social problems. As an internationally recognized College, we build and apply knowledge that positively impacts Ohio, the nation, and the world. Read more on the College of Social Work website.
Office of Diversity and Inclusion
“As an undergraduate student, I received a “full-ride” to The Ohio State University as a Freshman Foundation Program student through the then called, Office of Minority Affairs. ~J. Meshelemiah
The Ohio State University Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) is one of the oldest and most prominent offices of its kind in the nation. Founded in 1970, ODI supports the recruitment, retention and success of students, faculty and staff who enhance the diversity of The Ohio State University. ODI oversees the Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center, the Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male, the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program, the nine-city Young Scholars Program, as well as being home to a wide-range of retention, mentoring, scholarship, and access programs. Read more on the Office of Diversity and Inclusion website.
Black Art Collection
“Hale Hall has a Black art collection that speaks to one’s soul. It is one of the best in the country.”
The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
One of the largest Black art collections in the United States and recognized by the Association of Black Culture Centers as one of the top five in the country, the Hale Center’s artwork illustrates the Black experience through nationally-recognized artists. The art exposes visitors to a variety of Black art, and many of the artists, such as Smokey Brown and Ralph Bell, are from the Columbus area. Traditional artifacts from various tribal groups within Africa, South Africa, and the Caribbean are also represented.
William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library
“As an undergraduate, I worked in the “Main” Library–now called Thompson Library, for five years. This library will always hold a special place in my heart.” ~J. Meshelemiah
Thompson Library is the main library at Ohio State serving more than 54,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The original c. 1913 Beaux Arts building was enlarged in 1947–1951 and expanded again in 1977. This project transformed the library that largely functioned as three separate buildings into a unified and flexible 21st century research library and campus hub. Challenges included reconfiguring the internal organization and merging building styles and materials without increasing the building’s gross size. Thompson Library has become an active academic and social destination. Since the university’s 2009 fall quarter began, about 12,000 students a day have used the library — more than three times the daily gate count than prior to the renovation.
Minority Relations at The Ohio State University
“As long as I live, I will pursue justice. This is not easy work, but INJUSTICES are even more difficult.” ~J. Meshelemiah
Even though the first African-American student graduated from Ohio State in 1892, for decades minorities faced major obstacles towards earning a degree. Locating student housing presented an especially difficult challenge. Unwritten rules prohibited minorities from living in campus housing until the university quietly changed this policy in the 1940s.
In addition, most landlords in campus neighborhoods refused to rent to minorities. Until the open housing initiatives of the late 1950s, most African-American students lived on the southeast side of Columbus and commuted to campus.
During the 1950s, Ohio State began studying discrimination on campus. Investigations of racial inequalities resulted in the formation of a Human Relations Commission. In 1957, the commission issued a groundbreaking publication detailing racial relations in thirteen areas of campus life. Media coverage of the Civil Rights Movement also heighten student awareness of racial issues and gathered bi-racial support for the passage of civil rights laws.
Read more on The OSU Archival Reflections on Civil Rights
Ohio State Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Protests for Racial Equality
“Being a student leader can be challenging, but identifying dominant systems that exclude, discriminate, and/or hurt others are important to dismantle so that all students are safe and included on college campuses. Diversity, equity, and inclusion makes learning better for all involved.” ~J. Meshelemiah
“I believe we were actually there a little bit before 10 a.m. It was right before noon that the administration building was taken over because there was so much resistance to what was being stated and what we were trying to negotiate – a change on campus,” Henry said. In the photo President Drake meets with members of the 1968 protest.
Henry was one of the leaders of the Black Student Union at Ohio State who staged a protest inside what is now Bricker Hall to bring issues of educational inequality, racial disparities and police misconduct to the attention of university leadership in 1968. The flashpoint for the protest came after four black female students were kicked off a bus and allegedly harassed by campus police. Once the protest began, students pushed for more diversity in academic leadership, courses and the student body.
John Sidney Evans was the spokesman for the Black Student Union at the time of the protests. He, like 33 of his peers, was expelled and criminally charged for the takeover of the administration building.
All had to fight to clear their names and reverse their expulsions. Evans said they also had to fight for their place in history.
“I’ve met faculty members at Ohio State who didn’t know anything about what happened. You know I have, maybe, 10 first cousins who graduated from the school. They know about as much about the [protest] as the typical person on the campus right now and I’m their cousin,” Evans said. “So I thought that there should be a recognition of what happened 50 years ago.”
Evans and the other leaders of the Black Student Union talked to Drake about the progress made at Ohio State and the work still to be done. Drake spoke about the programs that came before his time as president that established classes focused on African-American studies and offices dedicated to expanding diversity. He pointed toward recent efforts to make college more accessible and more affordable.
Read the complete article on The OSU News