Ohio University African Student Union celebrates African Night

P1020031International students from the continent of Africa are one of the groups who, with great effort, soak the pressure mounted by academic work due to the difference in the school systems, among others.

For such students, the only way to release the stress is through programs held on campus to allow them some hours to think about something else other than academics.

One of such programs is the annual African Night held at Walter Rotunda on Ohio University P1020013campus.

The program brings together all people of non-African and African heritage, including African-Americans, to learn about each others’ culture (mind you, the continent has 54 countries with different ways of life and over a thousand languages), feast and dance to good tunes.P1020017

Last Friday was nothing short of these.

A flag show preceded the events for the night to display the many different colors that represent the continent.

This was followed by a poetry recital by a man who calls himself “Poet-Laureate” Keith; from Botswana, (It is one of the countries where poetry is an everyday thing) called “I am the Ethnic Totem.” Written by himself, this poem calls on all Africans to unite to enable them overcome the challenges of this world.

The poem also syncs with the theme for the night, “Celebrating Africa’s Diversity: A Recipe for Unity.”P1020038

Variety, they say is the spice of life. A Ghanaian, Eric Kesse, also gave a rendition of Nigeria’s P Square’s “No one like you” and “Onyinye” songs while he carefully plunked the black and white keys on a keyboard.

Away from the performances, attendees were treated to a variety of food from parts of the continent including the famous jollof rice, samosa, kuskus, beans and plantain, among others.

After some energy was pumped into the system, it was boogie time. Students danced, cheered and sang along the songs played. To say it was fun, may be an understatement.

News recap: How you voted in Tuesday’s election in Athens

This week saw the election of three Athens City Council members — including one independent — and the rejection of marijuana legalization in the state of Ohio. Voters also approved a measure that aims to reduce partisan gerrymandering in the state.

Below is our recap of the results of the election in Athens and what it will mean for Athens residents and Ohioans.

Democrats retained their majority on Athens City Council

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Dennis E. Powell | The Athens NEWS
  • Incumbent Jennifer Cochran and local business owner Peter Kotses, both Democrats, will claim two at-large seats on council, meaning the party will still have a 6-1 majority in Athens. [The Post]
  • The unofficial vote tallies released Tuesday showed that 35 percent of registered voters in Athens County casted their ballots, compared with an about 34 percent voter turnout last November. [The Athens NEWS]
  • While Kotses won about 27 percent of the vote and Cochran won 25 percent, the council race was the only contested race in this year’s elections. The chair of the Athens County Democratic Party said the two are “fantastic public servants and will represent Athens well.” [The Post]

  • Democrat Joan Kraynanski and Aaron Dauterman, an Ohio University senior who ran as a Republican, came in fourth and fifth place respectively in the council at-large race. [The New Political]
  • Kotses, a lifelong resident of Athens and owner of Athens Bicycle, received 1,763 votes, the most votes any candidate received. [The Athens Messenger]

Pat McGee will be the first independent to serve on city council in decades

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Oliver Hamlin | The Post
  • The Democrats didn’t win every seat on Athens City Council, however. Independent candidate Pat McGee won one of the three at-large seats, receiving 1,518 votes, or 23 percent of the total vote. [The Post]
  • McGee, a managing attorney with the Center for Student Legal Services, is the first independent to be elected to an at-large seat on council since at least 1982. [The Athens News]
  • McGee spoke to The Athens Messenger about his success as an independent candidate: “It says to me that people can look beyond labels, even when you have a fairly organized party that you’re opposing.” [The Athens Messenger]
  • The councilman-elect ran on a platform of putting Ohio University students first and encouraged them to vote. [The New Political]
  • McGee graduated from OU in 1970 and then travelled the world for a decade, but has lived in Athens for the past 35 years. Along with advocating for students, he supports marijuana legalization, a looser code enforcement and a raise in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, as long as the money stays in Athens. [The Post]
  • In addition, WOUB published a series of photos depicting election night in Athens. McGee can be seen playing celtic music on the concertina at local bar Jackie-O’s celebrating his win. [WOUB]

No surprise here: Steve Patterson elected mayor of Athens

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Steve Patterson | @MayorPatterson on Twitter
  • Steve Patterson was elected mayor after running unopposed. Patterson, a Democrat, holds an at-large seat on Athens City Council and will begin his term as mayor in January. [The Post]
  • Despite running an uncontested race, Patterson campaigned door to door and watched the polling numbers closely Tuesday. He said he’s elated to have the support of citizens. [The Athens News]
  • Patterson suggested several efforts he wants to work on as mayor. He said he wants to start working on organizing the city’s Halloween block party far earlier, possibly in January. He also suggested ideas to turn certain parts of Uptown into “pedestrian corridors.” [The Athens News]
  • The mayor-elect told The New Political: “It’s time to take Athens to the next level. You know, I’m really tired of the brain drain, and I’m really looking forward to the brain gain in the city of Athens, trying to keep people here.” [The New Political]

Ohio chose gerrymandering reform but rejected marijuana legalization; Athens County said “no” to Issue 2 while Ohio voted “yes”

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Via Wikimedia Commons
  • Ohio voters had three issues to vote on at Tuesday’s election. Issue 3, the ballot measure that would have legalized recreational and medical marijuana in the state, failed to pass. Meanwhile, Ohio voters passed Issues 1 and 2, which aim to reduce partisan gerrymandering and limit the power of monopolies, respectively. [The Post]
  • The Post also reported that Athens County voters overwhelmingly rejected Issue 3, with about 64 percent of residents voting against the issue and about 36 percent voting for it. About 64 percent of Ohio voters voted “no” on the issue. [The Post]
  • The controversial Issue 3 proposed a monopoly for the commercial sale of recreational and medical marijuana in the state. The executive director of ResponsibleOhio, the group behind Issue 3, said the day after the election: “We started the conversation and we’re going to continue the conversation starting tomorrow. The status quo doesn’t work, it’s unacceptable and we’re not going away.” [The New Political]
  • Issue 2 was put on the ballot to specifically target Issue 3 and will still have consequences despite Issue 3’s failure. It states that if any ballot initiative includes a “commercial interest,” or is otherwise deemed a monopoly, voters will have to pass two measures, one to grant an exception and the other on the proposal itself. [The Athens News]
  • Issue 2 passed in the state of Ohio with about 52 percent of the vote to about 48 percent. Of Ohio’s 88 counties, Athens was one of 16 that rejected Issue 2, with a vote of 53.46 percent against the issue. [The Athens News]
  • Ohio and Athens County voters passed Issue 1, which will amend the Ohio Constitution in an effort to prevent gerrymandering, or the partisan drawing legislative districts. It will create a bipartisan redistricting commission with seven members, two of which must be from the minority party in the state. [The Post]
  • Finally, here’s WOUB’s Election Night Special Report that focused on the election’s state issues. [WOUB]

Jeff Hill: The tale of a beast

Every Bobcat, past and present, knows of the notorious Jeff Hill. Short for Jefferson Hill, Jeff Hill is a staple landmark for OU students and Athens locals alike. While the city and the campus sit on several hills, none of them compare against this monstrous slope.

A walk up the hill is sure to take someone’s breath away, and a walk down the hill feels like a head slide into oblivion. It’s treacherously steep slope fills Ohio University students with mixed emotions: dread, exasperation, anger, excitement (who are you?!) and wait, did I mention dread already?

A collage of pictures from the Athena yearbook displaying students sledding down Jeff Hill in 1950. Image courtesy of the Ohio University Archives.
A collage of pictures from the Athena yearbook displaying students sledding down Jeff Hill in 1950. Image courtesy of the Ohio University Archives.

Whether they’re sledding down the treacherous hill during the winter or gliding down the slope on a longboard or a bike (mad respect for those who do), Jeff Hill’s slope is constantly being tested by daredevils.

Over the last decade alone, the hill has undergone a vast amount of change during its existence as a gateway to uptown and College Green for east and south siders.

Jeff Hill was once upon a time a brick road just like most of uptown Athens. During the winter break of OU’s 2006-2007 academic school year, the bricks were removed from the hill due to its poor road condition, according to a 2007 article in The Athens NEWS.

Ray Hazlett, who was the Athens service safety director at the time, told The NEWS that the bricks were saved to be reused in other brick streets in the city, but because the bricks from Jeff Hill were originally cut at an angle, they could only be used on other sloped streets.

Hazlett also told The NEWS that the road was originally intended for use by horses and wagons, so the bricks were designed specifically to give horses proper footing for going up the hill.

After the brick removal, the city laid down soil and grass seeds in order to combat erosion. The city also had the intention of of making Jeff Hill a park at one point, but the plans were never fulfilled.

The old road required much maintenance, which proved to be quite the nuisance for the city. Prior to the brick removal, the road was closed to vehicular traffic in 2002 after a water line broke under the road broke that same year.

According to a 2006 article in The Athens Messenger, this water break concerned city officials about the safety of vehicles driving up the hill after the break “washed out a lot of soil and sand.”

An image of Jeff Hill when it was cut off from vehicular traffic and still a brick road. Photo courtesy of user jmecklenborg of Photobucket.
An image of Jeff Hill when it was cut off from vehicular traffic and still a brick road. Photo courtesy of user jmecklenborg of Photobucket.

The subject of ownership of Jeff Hill has caused issues between Ohio University and the city of Athens. In 2005,  OU wanted to make Jeff Hill a developed pedestrian walkway, such as Morton Hill, the university-owned walkway that runs through East Green and is somewhat parallel to Jeff Hill, with East Green residence halls situated in between them.

After years of tension, the final result was a plan to pave Jeff Hill and open it back up to traffic as a one-way upwards street in 2010. OU and the city of Athens put their differences aside and signed for a three-party contract to renovate the hill, making both the university and the city co-owners of the road and in charge of different aspects of usage and maintenance.

Jeff Hill has been a controversial, anger-inducing and lung-shredding beast of a road and walkway for over a decade (no, over a century – no wait, how old is Athens again?) and with the coexistence and cooperation between the university and the city, it looks like it’s here to stay… at least until it requires another costly repair, perhaps.