It's been over a month since we've released an official and general statement regarding our organizational status at the Ohio State University. This statement will fill in that gap with as much detail as is practical. For those who are more interested in the quick version of where we stand right now: we won, but the fight isn't over. As of February 2nd, we decided to accept a "deferred charges" deal OSU administration offered us in return for our full reinstatement. In short, this means that all charges against us will be dropped if we attend some extra meetings with administration and attend to some bureaucratic tasks regarding our student org. This victory is largely thanks to the hundreds of individuals and organizations who supported us by reading, signing, and sharing our petition.

Our defense campaign has achieved its immediate aim — to have the charges against us dropped and our organization immediately reinstated. We do have one extra demand of OSU which was not possible to raise when we first released our petition: OSU admin must retract and apologize for defamatory statements made in an article released by The Lantern. Further detail on this point will be elaborated in a forthcoming media statement.

A Significant Risk of Substantial Harm

To briefly recap our previous statement, following a Palestine teach-in we hosted on December 7th, our student organization was suspended from OSU because the dean had "determined that there is reasonable cause to believe your organization’s activities pose a significant risk of substantial harm to the safety or security of your organization’s members, other members of the university community or to university property." Further, we were facing charges including "failure to follow university rules regarding posting temporary fliers, reserving meeting space, using classroom space during a prohibited period (reading day) and the failure to respond to meeting requests from your advisor and university leaders."

When OSU first lodged the claim against us that we posed a "significant risk of substantial harm", we explicitly asked the administration to tell us on what grounds they were alleging this. We received a non-response of bureaucratic doublespeak, only affirming that we would be facing a "preliminary meeting" soon, leaving a "let us know if you have any questions" as the cherry on top. But what OSU was unwilling to discuss with us privately, they were willing to state publicly to The Lantern. Apparently, the crux of the issue was our inclusion of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's logo in one of our flyers, as shown below.


Did you spot it? It's that small logo in the bottom left of the graphic that we used in the bottom right of our flyer. That was their stated reason for suspending us, their "reasonable cause" to believe that we posed a significant risk of substantial harm.

Of course, there's more to this story. We know that the administrators at OSU had little to no knowledge of the PFLP prior to this incident, let alone the ability to identify their logo in a graphic within one of our flyers. We now know for a fact that we were only targeted by the administration due to a coordinated harassment campaign by Zionists. Just two days prior to our suspension, an Instagram account called "israelwarroom" made a rather popular post attacking our organization for hosting our teach-in. This spurred hundreds of Zionists to call the University to urge them to disband our organization and expel our student members. Unable to resist the most basic public pressure, OSU partially heeded their call by suspending and investigating our organization.

Since the administration was so kind as to announce to the world what we'd been accused of, we were able to prepare ourselves for the preliminary meeting we had with them on January 8th. We quickly and easily dispelled the absurd notion that we are a front for or otherwise materially supporting the "known terrorist organization" PFLP. Thus, they dropped the allegation that we pose a "significant risk of substantial harm" which they used to suspend us rather quickly. Yet, our interim suspension was still in place.

Minor Bureaucratic Infractions

What remained were the charges for some extremely minor policy violations, each of which we will address here.

  1. "Failure to respond to meeting requests from your advisor and university leaders"

    The "meeting requests from [our] advisor" never existed. To this day we're unsure why the administration leveled this claim against us. As soon as our suspension came down, we were in regular contact with our student org advisor, which they could attest to if OSU cared to ask. As for meeting requests from university leaders, there are only two emails that could possibly fall into this category. One was from a University administrator who had seen our flyer and emailed us to let us know that we did not actually have the meeting room reserved for the date because it was Reading Day. We didn't see this email before our meeting because it was sent the night prior to it. Beyond that, it wasn't a "meeting request" anyway, only stating "Please let us know if you have any questions." We did not have any questions.

    The second email we received was from Dr. Melissa Shivers, sent the day after our teach-in:

    "Good morning. I don’t believe we have had the chance to meet yet, and I would like the opportunity to connect with you all. I have found it helpful to connect with students engaging in various activities and programs. and to also understand the needs our students, including from an administrative and learning perspective. Could we meet in person early next week?

    Thanks for your consideration and best of luck as you continue your preparation for finals.


    Dr. Shivers"

    We were given no indication that this "getting to know you" meeting was mandatory, nor that it was anything but a generic mass-email sent to every student organization on campus. Further, a formal charge for not responding to this one email for 3 business days during finals week is a little harsh. Given the facts surrounding this particular allegation, we were able to get OSU to drop the charge entirely.

  2. "Using classroom space during a prohibited period (reading day)"

    We did this. For those who are unfamiliar with OSU's academic calendar, Reading Day is the day before finals begin. On reading day, there are no classes and every classroom is available for students to study in at their leisure. Additionally, we had reserved that particular room for every Thursday evening through the end of the semester, so we didn’t think anything had changed there. As far as we knew, the only risk we were taking by hosting the meeting was that there could be students already studying in our meeting room. To mitigate this risk, we sent members to secure the space ahead of our meeting time, and everything went smoothly.

    In our preliminary meeting with the OSU administration, they told us that typically room reservation policy has a "self-executing" feature whereby the reservation tool itself has a strike system. First strike is a warning, second strike is a temporary ban from using the reservation system, etc. They even admitted that a case of room reservation policy violation has never been referred to Student Conduct before. Talk about selective enforcement!

  3. "Failure to follow university rules regarding posting temporary fliers"

    This is also true. Unbeknownst to us, OSU actually has a bizarrely strict temporary signage policy. It stipulates that "temporary signage is limited ONLY to designed [sic] posting boards (inside) and kiosks (outside)." We flyered on lamp posts and smooth surfaces, which we did not know was prohibited considering that a quick walk around campus will demonstrate to anyone how frequently this rule is violated by other student organizations.

    When we brought this up to the administration, they confirmed that they don't "walk around campus looking for flyering violations" but rather deal with it on a case-by-case basis as people complain to them. Ah, so the reason that the beach volleyball club can flyer on campus and we can't is because they don't have hundreds of bloodthirsty Zionists after them. The selective enforcement is built into this rule!

So, in the end, it seems that we were correct in calling out our treatment by the OSU administration as a violation of our first amendment rights. Having our interim suspension upheld solely on the grounds of selectively enforced minor policy violations stemming from public pressure from our political opponents is proof of that.

Other "Concerns" of the Administration

One point that was raised by the administration, but never leveled as a charge, is the specific composition of the Central Ohio Revolutionary Socialists. We were told that our website "doesn't look like it's run by students" (thank you) and have been questioned as to how many student members we have compared to non-student members. To clarify this point, CORS up until now has been a mixed student and non-student organization, with both student and non-student members enjoying equal rights and responsibilities. This had been our organizing model since the formation of CORS in 2019, and was the organizing model of the International Socialist Organization at OSU for a decade before our organization came out of its dissolution. In light of the administration's new insistence that we exist as a purely "student" organization, we voted to split CORS into "student" and "city" wings. We are confident that this organizing model will help us fulfill our mission to build working solidarity between students and the broader working class, and we're excited by the opportunities it presents to form branches on other campuses in the future.

The second "concern" of the administration was that we could be harmed by our political opponents – physically, reputationally, or otherwise. Of course, we're concerned about that too, but we don't act without thinking and we feel more than capable of defending ourselves. The administration raised this "concern" as a creative way to justify the "significant risk of substantial harm" allegation, positing that while we have acted fully within our rights advocating for Palestinian liberation, we may be unintentionally exposing ourselves to a "significant risk of substantial harm" from outside Zionists. Ah, so the suspension was actually to protect us! Thank you, OSU administration, for demonstrating to our political opponents that they can just threaten us to get what they want!

The full absurdity of this claim can only be understood when you think back to OSU’s statements to the OSU student paper, The Lantern. There, they presented the allegations against us, implying we support terrorism. These few short statements by an OSU administrator are the basis for over a dozen articles written claiming we’re a criminal terror group. If this is the way you “protect” a student organization and its members, we don’t want to know what OSU’s attacks would look like. This “protection” claim would be very funny if it weren’t for the escalating danger that OSU exposed our members to by giving our harassers more ammunition against us.

Zionists Lose

Following our January 8th meeting with the administration, we felt that we were in an advantageous position. Despite our continued suspension, we won back our right to meet on campus and every serious allegation of being linked to terrorism had been dropped. In our analysis, this is thanks primarily to the outpouring of public support by individuals and organizations at OSU, in Columbus, and across the country who defended us and signed our petition. OSU, as an institution, wants to minimize backlash and preserve its public image. When Zionists made a big fuss about us, they thought the path of least resistance was to discipline us publicly and deal with us privately. Placate the Zionists with an interim suspension, and consider our reinstatement if it all blows over. When we were able to demonstrate that we're also ready to put up a fight with hundreds of individuals and organizations behind us, their calculus changed. Our power lies in our mass base.

Our next meeting with the administration took place on January 17th. It was at this meeting that the deferred charges process was originally proposed to us. The administration was pushing us to agree to their process so that we wouldn't have to face the potential charges for our violations. To us it seemed that they were overplaying their hand. Agree to their process or face what? Charges for flyering lamp posts and a miscommunication over a room reservation?? Regardless, we decided to mull it over. We were assured that the administration would send us their deferred charges form "soon."

It took them until the 30th to email us that form —our interim suspension still in place. In a serious display of disrespect, they wanted us to either accept or reject their deferred charges process in just two days! Knowing that the deadline they set would fall before our weekly Thursday meeting, they wanted us to respond before we could even convene and consult our full membership. Luckily, when we pushed back against their insulting deadline, they conceded our right to meet before coming to a democratic decision.

The terms of their deferred charges process are as follows:

  • Meet with Student Activities to review the requirements of being a student organization.
    • Find a faculty advisor (our old faculty advisor left their position at OSU before this case started, completely unrelated to the current situation).
    • Review and revise our student organization constitution.
    • Address and fill student leadership roles.
  • Meet with Student Conduct two more times to follow up on the above work with Student Activities.
  • Respond to communications from University leaders.
  • Agreement to the deferred charges process will result in immediate reinstatement.

While we were genuinely curious about what a formal charges process would look like for our extremely minor and borderline unpunishable infractions, this curiosity was weighed against our immediate reinstatement and the fact that we'd likely have to address their other concerns about our organization regardless. In the end, we opted to accept their deferred charges process in order to begin to put this incident to bed and continue in our important work in the movement for Palestinian liberation and the myriad of other pressing issues of our day.

Where Next?

With the sanctions against us lifted, we can now resume our political educating and organizing with confidence and without the threat of reprisals against our organizers by university administration. The attacks we’ve faced by the Zionists have not broken us. Rather, we are coming out of this campaign of repression stronger and more confident in our cause. Given the ongoing genocide in Gaza and escalating attacks on the West Bank, Palestine organizing will continue to be a central focus for us. We will redouble and deepen our efforts to organize and advance the movement on campus and in the city.

We are certain that this isn’t the last of the attacks against ourselves or other activists and organizations at OSU and in Columbus. We are dedicated to using our experience to help other comrades deal with and triumph over political repression. We will continue agitating for OSU to retract its statements made against us in the Lantern and we commit to push the struggle to Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Israel forward along with all other pro-Palestine forces. Today, Palestine is the greatest flashpoint in the struggle between the forces of reaction and empire and the forces of progress and national liberation. The open repression we face as pro-Palestine activists is evidence of this. We believe that the combined struggle of millions of workers and oppressed people across the globe can bring the Israeli genocide to a halt and create the conditions for a free Palestine. We are committed to building the movement in the U.S. no matter the obstacles, until Palestine is finally free.

Previous Post

About the author

CORS Membership


This article was written by one or more members of CORS, and represents the organization as a whole.