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New OSU President Passes First Test with Flying Colors

Free Speech and Student Safety Both Preserved in an Example Every Other College Should Study
By Jerry C. Cirino
May 3, 2024
On The Record

It’s a perfect example of the radical left’s upside-down view of reality.

An Ohio State University professor actually referred to campus police as “armed invaders.”

That’s like calling Hamas “peacekeepers.”

But Professor Michiko Hikida didn’t have the common sense or the decency to stop there.

Writing as a guest columnist in the Columbus Dispatch, the associate professor of elementary language arts told her new boss, OSU President Ted Carter, that he “makes me sick” for allowing “armed strangers to invade our learning space,” adding, “You should be ashamed of yourself.”

She wasn’t alone in her delusion.

Former OSU Professor Keith Kilty also wrote a guest column for the Dispatch, headlined, “Ted Carter, you turned campus into military zone. Your goons crushed protester's rights.”

The professors’ shared hysteria shows how easy it is to lose sight of basic realities on the ground from the lofty perch of an ivory tower.

Here’s what actually happened on Thursday, April 25, beginning around 5:00 pm, according to WOSU and Carter.

About 600 anti-Israel demonstrators tried to set up an encampment, imitating the round-the-clock protest zones seen on scores of other campuses across the country. University administrators repeatedly warned protestors that would violate campus safety rules and would not be allowed.

Carter was true to his word.

At 10:00 pm, law enforcement (including Ohio State University Police officers, Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers and Franklin County Sheriff's deputies) began arresting and charging protestors with criminal trespass for knowingly violating university policy and police orders.

As Carter wrote in a letter explaining his decision, “Encampments are not allowed on campus regardless of the reason for them. They create the need for around-the-clock safety and security resources, which takes these resources away from the rest of our community.”

He cited other compelling reasons, including:

•     “During Finals Week, the Ohio Union is not only a study space for students, but it is also an exam location, including for students with disabilities.”

•     “(Encampments) create undue pressure on proximate buildings, in this case the Ohio Union, for restrooms and personal hygiene.”

•     “The encampment also created a disturbance to our residential community in Baker Hall.”

Carter emphasized, “What occurred on our campus on April 25 was not about limiting free speech. It was an intentional violation of university space rules that exist so that teaching, learning, research, service and patient care can occur on our campuses without interruption.”

The president also made mincemeat out of the professors’ hyperbolic claims that armed goons turned the campus into a military zone, crushing protestors rights.

“As a public university, demonstrations, protests and disagreement regularly occur on our campus — so much so that we have trained staff and public safety professionals on-site for student demonstrations for safety and to support everyone’s right to engage in these activities,” wrote Carter.

“Sadly,” he added, “in recent days, I have watched significant safety issues be created by encampments on other campuses across our nation. These situations have caused in-person learning and commencement ceremonies to be canceled. Ohio State’s campus will not be overtaken in this manner.”


University administrators across the country could learn a thing or two from the OSU example, rather than sitting on their hands as violent mobs riot, storm buildings, and engage in running street battles with police, as shockingly occurred at colleges including Columbia and UCLA.

Police at OSU did not harm students – they were protecting students, 99-percent of whom were not protesting but studying for finals.

Protecting them from who, our radical professors would surely ask. 

In part, protecting them from what Democratic New York Mayor Eric Adams calls a global movement to "radicalize young people," led by individuals who are "not affiliated with (Columbia) university," but nevertheless recruited students to "create chaos."

Adams said the pro-Palestinian demonstration at Columbia had been “co-opted by professional outside agitators” who have no affiliation with the institution.

According to the New York Times, they include the likes of “Lisa Fithian, a longtime activist and trainer for left-wing protesters whom the Police Department would later publicly describe as a ‘confirmed professional agitator.’”

The paper said she is the author of a 2019 book called “Shut it Down,” “a guide to strategic civil disobedience and has worked as a political organizer for decades, supporting political demonstrations across the country.”  

Fithian was quoted as saying “We have to be willing to create a crisis. We have to be willing to engage in social disruption and create crisis for the people in power who are creating harm.”

Columbia University President Nemat Shafik also blamed outside agitators for instigating protests and an encampment occupied by demonstrators for two weeks. 

“We believe that while the group who broke into the building includes students, it is led by individuals who are not affiliated with the university,” Shafik wrote to the police on Tuesday.

CBS reported “senior police sources say of the 282 people arrested at both Columbia and City College of New York, 27% were over 30 years old and just over 10% have been arrested several times, mostly protest-related.”  

Fithian admitted “she came to Columbia on Monday afternoon to conduct a training session with about 30 students activists.”

The Times reported Fithian “has also run workshops for other activists. Unions and activist groups have paid her $300 a day to run demonstrations and teach their members tactics for taking over the streets.”

Who is sponsoring this global movement seeking to radicalize our young people?  

FOX reported that anti-Israel agitators across the country are “tied to far-left groups with radical associations backed by dark money and liberal mega-donor George Soros.”

It is far from inconceivable that the violent chaos caused by mobs running riot on other campuses could’ve happened here.

It is vitally important to note that more than half of the protestors arrested at OSU last week were not students or staff. Of the 36 people arrested, 20 were not affiliated with the university and only 16 were actual students.

By shutting down their encampment before it took root and metastasized, Carter’s action arguably prevented what happened at Columbia and UCLA from happening at OSU – where REAL goons ran riot.

Instead of turning violent, OSU students have magnificently embraced and embodied a lesson that students across the country should emulate.

The right to free speech is protected by the law.

The right to riot is not.

Hundreds of demonstrators held a massive anti-Israel protest on the OSU campus on Wednesday...then dispersed peacefully and voluntarily at the request of organizers. 

No arrests were reported.  

By shutting down last week’s illegal demonstrations, Carter has preserved the students’ right to free speech and to hold peaceful protests.

Carter didn’t crush the students’ right to free speech. 

He guaranteed it.

OSU is fortunate to have such a decisive and principled leader.

I have another guarantee.

As a member of the Ohio Senate, I want to make clear in the strongest terms possible – we will do everything necessary to protect our Jewish students on campus at OSU and every college and university in our state.

We will make sure they are safe and secure on campus – to study and live in a learning environment that is not threatened by the horrible violence and absolutely repugnant anti-semitism we have seen infect institutions of higher learning across this country.

Perhaps we should consider introducing legislation that would provide for the termination of faculty members, tenured or not, who participate in, or encourage others to commit, violence on campus.

Freedom from this horrible fear is every student’s God-given right.

Guaranteeing it is our constitutional obligation and sacred duty.

Jerry Cirino represents Ohio Senate District 18