Security was tight at Ohio State University on Sunday — and it wasn’t because of the football game against Michigan State.
The six police officers on duty, the Ohio Union internal security personnel and a considerable force of private security staff were brought on campus to protect participants at the Palestine Solidarity Movement conference, pro-Israel counter-protesters and the general student body.
The pro-Israel protesters “have created the need for security outside” said Bill Hall, OSU’s vice president of student affairs.
Just before sunset Friday, the two groups of protesters clashed at the corner of 15th and High streets, the traditional gateway into the university. The voices got louder on both sides and the Jewish group attempted to drown out the speakers at the pro-Palestinian rally.
“That’s when I decided that I needed more people for a buffer zone between the two groups,” Hall said. “It’s the aggression and passion that is causing the additional security.”
Hall made clear that the money for security comes from a fund allocated for occasions like these.
“There’s a point when you wait too long and things get out of hand, and you can’t get it back under control without an injury or them using some kind of force,” Hall said.
Amcha-The Coalition for Jewish Concerns, which hails from New York, is one of a half dozen groups that organized a protest rally outside the Ohio Union.
Shmuel Herzfeld, the group’s vice president, took issue with Hall’s statements.
“We brought our own security, which has a working relationship with the Ohio State campus police,” Herzfeld said.
Asked about the claim that Amcha’s presence necessitated more security and cost Ohio tax payers, Herzfeld shot back, “Absolutely the tax payer’s money should not be spent. It shouldn’t have to be spent for us to voice our outrage to counteract evil, and it should not be used right now inside the Ohio Union supporting hate speech.”
But Hall, who said he had “staff sitting at every session,” said they had not heard any hate speech.
Hall would not comment on how much conference security would end up costing the university, but independent estimates from security personnel on location put the cost at $8,000 to $10,000.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.