The Ohio State University Represses Ohio Youth for Climate Justice Organizers

Ohio Youth for Climate Justice
4 min readFeb 15, 2024

The following statement was issued on February 15, 2024, to provide our community with clarity regarding Ohio State’s repressive tactics against our organizers. If you wish to read and sign on to our Solidarity Letter addressed to OSU administration, please do so here.

Ohio community gathers in solidarity with Palestine. The image is blurred and tinted purple.

On January 25, 2024, three Ohio Youth for Climate Justice organizers– Hannah, Yousuf, and Jerry — protested President Walter E. “Ted” Carter’s speech to Ohio State’s “Staff Wellness Event.” Time and time again, Ohio Youth for Climate Justice has confronted Ohio State’s president, Board of Trustees, and Office of Investments over their investments in fossil fuels and israeli apartheid. Yet, millions of OSU’s endowment dollars continue to facilitate genocide in Gaza and fuel climate disaster across the globe. On January 25, Hannah, Yousuf, and Jerry made it clear to President Carter that he must take immediate action to divest from israeli companies, international companies on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) list, and in the fossil fuel industry.

At the Staff Wellness Event, Carter proclaimed he was proud to “allow this type of protest at The Ohio State University.” Yet, just hours later, Hannah, Yousuf, and Jerry received formal summonses from OSU’s Student Conduct Office claiming their behavior at the event could be in violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

Following a preliminary hearing with Student Conduct, the students were unduly charged with ‘unreasonably disruptive conduct’ simply for speaking out about injustice. The students now await their hearings in front of the students, staff, and faculty of the University Conduct Board. Pending the University Conduct Board’s decision, Hannah, Yousuf, and Jerry could face probation, suspension, and even dismissal from Ohio State.

For 75 years, Palestinians have lived under brutal occupation by the israeli settler colonial state. A nearly 17-year-long siege has trapped over 2 million Palestinians in Gaza with conditions that António Guterres, Secretary-General of the U.N., compared to “hell on earth.” Since October 2023, Palestinians in Gaza have been indiscriminately bombed by the israeli occupation forces. Over the past few days, israel has escalated even further by launching an offensive on Rafah, the last “safe zone” in the Gaza Strip. Over 30,000 Palestinians have been murdered by the IOF throughout the past four and a half months. This is a genocide.

In addition to facing existential israeli violence, Palestine is one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world though it is responsible for less than 0.01% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Despite this, Palestine is repeatedly blocked from receiving climate funds and adaptation resources because of israeli occupation.

A recent study found that in just two months of senseless bombing, israel’s genocide in Gaza produced at least 281,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide– more than the annual carbon emissions of 20 climate-vulnerable nations combined. Israel’s system of apartheid and settler colonialism is maintained and exacerbated by the fossil fuel industry. On October 30, six fossil fuel companies accepted licenses from israel to extract oil and gas off the coast of Gaza amidst ongoing IOF bombardment. Without Palestinian liberation, there can be no climate justice.

But OSU is no mere witness to the ongoing genocide and the fossil fuel industry’s hunger to profit off militarism.

President Carter, the Board of Trustees, and the Office of Investments sustain israel’s genocide in Gaza by continuing to invest Ohio State’s endowment in israeli companies and international companies on the BDS list. Their investments grant the fossil fuel industry social license to continue endless extraction, even amidst ongoing genocide. Ohio State has the potential to become a University leader in environmental justice but the Board of Trustees lacks the moral courage to act in this time of crisis. We need President Carter to take a different path.

Hannah, Yousuf, and Jerry are just 3 of the latest targets of nationwide university repression. Students across the country are facing increased censorship and intimidation for organizing against U.S. imperialism in occupied Palestine. At the University of Michigan, student elections on pro-Palestine resolutions have been canceled and campus sit-ins have been met with aggressive policing and criminal charges. Rutgers University-New Brunswick suspended its Students for Justice in Palestine chapter in December 2023 with no due process. Here at Ohio State, our friends from Central Ohio Revolutionary Socialists faced organizational suspension after hosting an event entitled “Intifada, Revolution, and the Path to a Free Palestine.”

Ohio Youth for Climate Justice is not the first to face censorship and intimidation for organizing against U.S. imperialism. Like our comrades throughout the country, we will not let these repressive tactics deter us from our true goals of divestment from israel, the fossil fuel industry, and US militarism. We will continue to hold The Ohio State University accountable for its complicity in the Palestinian genocide and the ongoing climate crisis.

Ohio Youth for Climate Justice has the support of countless OSU students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community members across Ohio.

If you suppress one member of our movement, a hundred more will rise up in solidarity.

Drop the charges against Ohio Youth for Climate Justice. Divest from fossil fuels. And free Palestine.

Ohio Youth for Climate Justice is a youth-led movement organizing radical action to address the climate crisis with the focus and urgency the issue deserves.

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Ohio Youth for Climate Justice

We are a youth organization fighting for radical change in response to the climate crisis. On Medium, we highlight youth voices from Ohio’s climate movement.