© Copyright 2020, The Post, Athens, OH
Cover illustration by Olivia Juenger |For The Post
Sept. 29, 2019
A Twitter video showing three Athens Police Department officers pinning down a man on Sept. 29, 2019 caused outrage from users, according to a previous Post report.
The video, which was tweeted by Jiy Brooks, shows the officers pinning a man face-first on the Court Street bricks. Other people can be heard yelling at police from the sidewalk as the victim was pinned.
Brooks said she was walking down the street around 1 a.m. when she saw the victim near a car with a group of friends. She then saw cops coming up to the car and heard the victim say, “What did I do?” while putting his hands up, according to the same Post report.
Several Ohio University student organizations, including Black Student Union and Black Student Communication Caucus, responded to the tweet, saying the force used was unnecessary.
Feb. 17, 2020
Kaitlin Bennett was met with hundreds of protesters when she came to OU on Feb. 17 to film a video for her conservative group, Liberty Hangout, and question students with trivia about President’s Day in front of a camera, according to a previous Post report.
About 400 people gathered in front of Baker Center to see Bennett, a viral gun rights activist turned conservative media figure.
After the visit, Bennett tweeted a video of students shouting at her truck, taking videos, throwing drinks into the open window and giving the group the middle finger.
OUPD said in a statement later the incident didn’t rise to the level of a riot, and no one was arrested.
March 13, 2020
OU announced March 13 that it will move all campuses to remote and online instruction until the end of Spring Semester due to the coronavirus, according to a previous Post report.
As a result, local businesses were in jeopardy because they didn’t have the student traffic. Those not in jeopardy have made it their mission to give back.
Josh Thomas, co-owner of Brenen’s, said when the schools were out and OU administration sent students home, his good friend, Brent Hartman, who runs O'Nail Hartman Insurance Agency, wanted to buy lunches that Brenen’s would then give out for free.
“Immediately, we had other community members, other local businesses, anybody that recognized the pandemic wasn't really affecting them financially,” Thomas said. “We had those types of people just started giving us a call and saying we also would like to help; we'd like to help Brenen’s, but we also want to help the community.”
As far as a need for the lunches in the fall, Thomas said Brenen’s will take it day by day.
“We certainly still have some people in town that need the meals and that need is never going to go away. And we recognize that. We've had a lot of other people recognize that, too, and still want to help. If it's something we can continue to do and make it work, then I'm sure we'll be happy to do that,” Thomas said.
Brenen’s Coffee Cafe, among other local Athens businesses, begin rolling out free lunches for those in need soon after a mandated shut-down due to COVID-19. (Photo provided via Brenen’s official Twitter account)
April 20, 2020
Earlier in the semester, Shively Court will be closing permanently due to the low enrollment prediction for the Fall Semester.
The decision to shut down the dining hall most notable for its “Grab N Go” option was made before the coronavirus pandemic began, according to a previous Post report.
Katie Brown, a senior studying integrated media, was a student leader for three semesters at Shively Court. Brown found out about the dining hall closing first from the office assistants in a student leader GroupMe, she said in an Instagram direct message.
“Usually that's the case: that if you go from being a student leader at one hall to working at another hall, you will basically start from the beginning/not be a student leader,” Brown said in an Instagram direct messaage. “ …someone from Nelson reached out to me and reassured me that I would be able to work at either of the dining halls as a student leader because of the unique circumstances.”
Brown was going to work at the District on West Green, but now because of OU's phased learning, the managers have said they can't hire student employees during phase one, so she’s unsure.
Ohio University’s decision to close Shively Court is predicted to save the institution about $1 million. (Kelsey Boeing | Director of Photography)
“I wasn't offered another job right out of the gate other than to apply at Nelson and the district, so I was scared that I wouldn't be able to work at either of the other dining halls as a student leader. Usually that's the case: that if you go from being a student leader at one hall to working at another hall, you will basically start from the beginning/ not be a leader.” -Katie Brown, a senior studying Intergrated Media
April 30, 2020
The loss of students on campus because of the COVID-19 pandemic led to the creation of multiple online efforts to raise awareness about OU’s alleged budget crisis.
The Save OUr Professors movement was created April 30 by Olivia Gemarro, a senior studying English creative writing and sociology-criminology pre-law. Gemarro said she was frustrated with information about professor cuts being spread and wanted to make the greater community more aware of it. The account has gotten attention from all demographics of the OU community, according to a previous Post report.
Alumni have also become prevalent in budget conversations. A group of alumni started the My OHIO Is… website, where people can submit their personal testimonies of what OU means to them. The hope is to unite the community under a shared vision of OU amid talks of budget cuts, according to a previous Post report.
A lot of testimonials have been submitted so far, Henry Kessler, a 2015 OU alumnus who studied art history and helped create the website, said. Kessler hopes the stories show communities and not just classrooms are being affected.
A Twitter page created out of support for Ohio University union members emerges in lieu of several layoffs.
May 1, 2020
OU implemented its first “significant personnel reduction” May 1 in response to budget struggles that were intensified by the coronavirus pandemic.
140 employees were notified their positions would be eliminated May 31. An additional 49 positions were unfilled after employees took the university’s early retirement incentive plan.
Impacted employees worked in roles including groundskeeping, culinary and maintenance, according to a previous Post report. The reductions are estimated to save OU about $11 million.
May 6, 2020
Over 200 people attended a union-hosted motorcade rally May 6 to support OU employees whose jobs were eliminated.
The event was organized by the OU chapter of the American Association of University Professors and OU’s American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME Local 1699.
The main goal of the event was for OU to implement a firing freeze. The freeze would halt non-renewals, reinstate COVID-19 layoffs and cap salaries at the equivalent of Gov. Mike DeWine’s salary, according to a previous Post report.
As cars looped around Athens, a representative from the OU chapter of the American Association of University Professors, or AAUP, delivered a petition to Cutler Hall.
Approximately 200 people rallied in their vehicles outside Peden Stadium in protest of Ohio University laying off 140 union employees on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. (Kevin Pan | For The Post).
May 15, 2020
An additional 202 OU employees received news of being laid off May 15.
The second personnel reduction included the loss of 53 instructional faculty members and 149 administrators. An additional 74 tenured faculty members enrolled in either OU’s Voluntary Separation or Retirement Program, according to a previous Post report.
After OU finishes reorganizing departments, 55 of the laid off administrators are expected to be rehired.
A tiered furlough plan was also announced May 15 and began July 1. The furlough applies to all administrative, faculty and classified non-bargaining employees, according to that same Post report. It also includes seven mandatory furlough days.
Stories published May 26 and 28, 2020
Be on the lookout for North End Kitchen + Bar and Grub-N-Go around Athens.
A Cornwell family-owned restaurant will go in the location of the former Cornwell Jewelers, 77 N. Court St., according to a previous Post report.
David and Jen Cornwell are opening North End Kitchen + Bar, an open-air street taco restaurant.
“I think that this will be fun: being able to have the different salsas and the smaller street tacos,” Jen said in the previous Post report. “You come in, and you can get two or three different ones, depending on how hungry you are.”
North End Kitchen + Bar isn’t the only eatery new to Athens.
In May, Uptown Grill, 11 W. Union St., changed its name to Grub-N-Go and is under new ownership, according to a previous Post report. Grub-N-Go is run by Athens local Todd Thompson. The restaurant is family-owned and family-run. Thompson is working with his son, his daughter and his daughter-in-law.
Thompson has an all-day breakfast and lunch/dinner menu, and due to popular demand, he brought the chicken and waffles back.
“There was such an outpouring on social media about the chicken and waffles being gone,” Thompson said. “And the thing was, I had no clue about chicken and waffles, so I decided to come up with my own sauce, so the sauce is different. I have been told that it's better than the previous sauce. I'm excited about it, and we seem to sell them well.”
The campus favorite drunk food is not on the menu, but it is on the sidewalk sign. A regular chicken and waffle sandwich is $6.50, and a chicken and waffle with bacon is $7.
“It's going to be permanent. People will be able to order it any time they want, all day long, even breakfast if they want it for breakfast,” Thompson said.
“And the thing was, I had no clue about chicken and waffles, so Idecided to come up with my own sauce, so the sauce was different. I have been told that it's better than the previous sauce. I'm excited about it and we seem to sell them well.” -Todd Thompson, owner of Grub-n-Go
May 29, 2020
A fourth member of Sigma Pi pleaded guilty to charges in connection to the death of former pledge Collin Wiant in late May.
Saxon Angell-Perez, 22, pleaded guilty to charges of felony cocaine possession and permitting drug abuse and misdemeanor hazing charges May 29, according to a previous Post report.
Angell-Perez must cooperate with the prosecutors for the remainder of the case and submit to a non-reporting probation and a drug and alcohol diversion program.
“I hope to see that they have the opportunity to get their message, their story out to students their age and that they get to share that, and that we really can end hazing...that the whole idea of it becomes obsolete.” -Kathleen Wiant, Collin Wiant's mother
June 2, 2020
Hundreds of people protested, marched and chanted against police brutality across Athens on June 2.
The Athens peaceful rally for POC victims of police brutality started after a crowd of about 100 people gathered at the Athens County Courthouse, according to a previous Post report.
The rally included an eight-minute moment of silence in honor of George Floyd, a Black Minnesota man who was killed by a police officer, a speech about how peaceful protesting isn’t enough to win the fight of racial inequality and several call-and-response chants.
Protesters not only filled the steps and outer area of the courthouse, but the opposite side of the street. All four corners of the Washington Street and Court Street intersection were full of demonstrators, according to the previous Post report.
A peaceful protester during a Black Lives Matter protest in Athens, Ohio, walks across the street in front of police officers and other protesters, holding a sign that reads, “I am not a threat” on June 2, 2020. (Kelsey Boeing | Director of Photography)
“I'm here for my little siblings. I'm here for my unborn children, and I'm here for the next generation, to be their voice and to be their fight because I'm tired of the trauma. I'm tired of the PTSD. And I'm tired of being scared.” -Laki Mahamud, a student protesor
June 3, 2020
About 100 people rallied June 3 in support of protecting union jobs in the wake up mass personnel layoffs at OU.
The rally was organized by the local union 1699 and the Southeast Ohio Central Labor Council and began at the College Gates, according to a previous Post report. Supporters marched, chanted and carried signs as they made their way up Court Street and stopped at the Athens County Courthouse.
Carrie Stobart, a cook at OU, attended the rally. She said union work usually runs in the family, which can make layoffs such as OU’s particularly detrimental.
June 23, 2020
The president of OU’s disbanded Sigma Pi fraternity pleaded guilty June 23 to charges involving the death of former pledge Collin Wiant.
Elijah Wahib, 22, of Westlake, pleaded guilty to two counts of obstructing justice and two counts of hazing and permitting drug abuse, according to a previous Post report.
Wahib must complete the Prosecutor's Office Athens County Empowerment, or A.C.E, Program. He was also sentenced to 31 days in jail on hazing misdemeanor charges by Judge Patrick J. Lang.
Kathleen Wiant, Collin’s mother, said she’s focusing on the good coming out of Wahib’s sentencing.
“I hope to see that they have the opportunity to get their message, their story out to students their age and that they get to share that, and that we really can end hazing … that the whole idea of it becomes obsolete,” Kathleen said in that same Post report.
Former Ohio University student, Elijah Wahib, walks out of court behind his lawyer, Paul Wolf, after his arraignment hearing on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. (Kelsey Boeing | Director of Photography)
June 23, 2020
About 81 employee positions were eliminated June 23 in OU’s final mass personnel reduction.
There were 63 classified positions, 17 administrative positions and one hourly research position that was considered unclassified impacted by the reduction. Employees in 23 of the former positions will be rehired after departments are reorganized, according to a previous Post report.
The bulk of positions eliminated were in the College of Arts and Sciences.
July 5, 2020
Tensions ran high July 5 when two rallies collided on Court Street.
A rally titled Defend The Police began at noon and was later met with counterprotesters Uptown. There were more attending the counter protest, Defend OUr Community, but State Rep. Jay Edwards, R-Nelsonville, attended the Defend The Police Event.
Edwards said he thinks the majority of people in Southeast Ohio and Appalachia do not support defunding the police, according to a previous Post report.
“We got to do better at trying to weed out the bad apples, but defunding a police is the absolute opposite thing you can do,” Edwards said in that same Post report.
The majority of those attending the counter protest were students and of the younger demographic. Those at Defend The Police tended to be older residents in Athens.
Counter-protesters reflected in the sunglasses of a Defend the Police rally protester on Sunday, July 5, 2020. (Kevin Pan | For The Post)
“We got to do better at trying to weed out the bad apples, but defunding...police is the absolute opposite thing you can do.”
—State Rep. Jay Edwards, R-Nelsonville
July 30, 2020
The “Matthew Bode Victims” account drew significant attention on Instagram after a survivor shared their story July 30.
In the post, the survivor, who is remaining completely anonymous, wrote that she visited OU on Sept. 6, 2019, and was invited to a Pi Kappa Phi frat party at Bode’s house. There, she had two drinks and didn’t feel well. She slept in the house and woke up naked from the waist down and a condom on the floor. The post has gotten over 111,000 likes and more than 12,000 comments.
“I had stayed quiet for far too long and it went unnoticed for longer than it ever should have,” the survivor said in an Instagram direct message. “My goal was to show other women like me that you have a voice too. We should not have to be silent over something we couldn’t control.”
The creator of the account and another woman who saw the account and felt encouraged to speak up make up two accusations against Bode. Anonymous pressed charges in September and in June, and Bode was arrested. According to NBC4 Columbus, Bode is being held on a $250,000 bond for two charges of first-degree felony rape. The survivor called Jenny Hall-Jones recently and was told that because the rape was out of OUPD’s jurisdiction, she had to go to the Athens Police Department.
The survivor started a change.org petition to create a platform for change.
© Copyright 2020, The Post, Athens, OH