Concerns continue over Johnson

Above is the Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown where the meeting was held. Photo by Elizabeth Coss / The Jambar

By Elizabeth Coss and Christopher Gillett

A student-led “Next Steps” meeting was hosted at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown on Feb. 8 to discuss the future of Youngstown State University. 

The meeting’s purpose was to determine how to proceed with YSU President Bill Johnson’s appointment. Students, alumni, faculty and the public attended. 

While the meeting was not open to the media, The Jambar spoke to senior political science major Rose McClurkin, who organized the event. McClurkin said the meeting was meant to continue opposition toward the administration. 

“This event is happening tonight to continue the momentum of making sure that we have strategic steps to hold the administration accountable,” McClurkin said. “Getting input from community members, alumni and students to make sure we keep the conversation going on how we’re going to work with this new administration.”

Around 50 students walked out of classes Jan. 22 to protest Johnson’s first day as president. Despite the protest, McClurkin said apathy is prominent on campus. 

“Apathy and general disheartedness [at YSU] is pretty common, but it is also a manufactured apathy. Like the administration wants their students to feel like they can’t do anything. They want them to feel like anything that they say or any actions that they take aren’t going to have meaningful repercussions or actual changes are going to be made,” McClurkin said.

Johnson was hired by the board of trustees through a confidential search process in November. McClurkin said the disapproval of Johnson is not political, but the hiring process was.

“Though our disapproval of this process [that brought Johnson to YSU] is not political, the process in of itself was political.” McClurkin said. “There is no way for the governor-appointed board of trustees to appoint a Republican politician of the state of Ohio and it not be a political process.”

Multiple protests against Johnson’s hiring have occurred on campus and in board meetings since his appointment. McClurkin said she believes the administration didn’t expect push back to last this long. 

“I don’t think the board thought this was going to last this long. I think the board thought that this was gonna blow over and the pushback from this wasn’t going to be so sustained — especially economically sustained, like people are pulling money,” McClurkin said.

McClurkin said more meetings are being planned and that pressure from the community will continue to affect the administration. 

“We’re consistently meeting and consistently acting to prove them wrong. That at some point, they are going to have to hear us, and they are facing those tangible repercussions of money being taken out, of gaining national and statewide news coverage. This isn’t going away,” McClurkin said.

Leave a Reply