Environmental group locked out of sit-in PDF Print E-mail
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN, Sentinel County Editor   
Friday, 19 April 2013 14:01
BGSU students hold a sit-in, Friday, April 19, 2013, on the first floor of McFall Center on the campus of Bowling Green State University. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
BGSU students intending to perform a sit-in were instead locked out of President Mary Ellen Mazey’s office today.

Members of the BGSU Environmental Action Group had planned to sit in Mazey’s office all day in another effort to convince the university to transition to 100 percent clean energy by 2020. But university police kept the students from going to the second floor of McFall Center, where Mazey’s office is located.

The first students to arrive were allowed to take flowers up to Mazey’s secretary, since she took more than 500 phone calls this week generated by the environmental group’s “call-in” campaign.

But then the students were escorted back to the first floor of McFall. “They aren’t even letting us in the office,” said Josh Chamberland, president of the environmental group. “Every door is locked and requires police escort.”

Dave Kielmeyer, spokesman for BGSU, said the second and third floors are being restricted to employees and people with scheduled appointments.

“We certainly respect their First Amendment rights to protest peacefully,” Kielmeyer said of the students. “But at the same time, we have an obligation to make sure the office of the president can continue operations.”

The students remained sitting on the floor in the main hallway throughout the day, six to eight at a time.

The protest was “peaceful and low key,” Kielmeyer said.

At lunch time, the university police at the scene reportedly ordered pizza and shared with some protesters.

Chamberland said early in the morning there were “at least 15” police officers restricting access to the upper floors in McFall. Kielmeyer said the police numbered closer to half a dozen.

“Quite frankly, I’m surprised there are so many police officers here,” Chamberland said, questioning the university’s decision to spend so much on security at the site, but not spending enough on clean energy efforts.
According to Chamberland, restricting students to the first floor of McFall is the equivalent of limiting free speech.

“This allows for the administration to avoid all student contact and ultimately avoiding accountability to the students they represent,” he said. “It was not our intention to disrupt business in the office whether police were here or not. We are here to serve as a visual reminder to the administration of the now 3,313 student, faculty, and community members who have signed a petition calling for 100 percent clean energy at BGSU.

In a press release, the students acknowledged efforts already made by the university.

“BGSU has taken some great first steps by signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and the students would love to work with the university to ensure a true carbon-neutral future by not emitting carbon into the atmosphere by burning coal and natural gas, instead using resources like wind, solar, and geothermal,” the group stated.
Last Updated on Friday, 19 April 2013 14:22

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