YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A group of Youngstown State University students, who are part of the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems program, showed up at Wednesday’s meeting of the Board of Trustees in silent protest of the way Meshel Hall is being utilized. Noticeably absent at Wednesday’s meeting was Trustee Harry Meshel, who is also upset with the building named after him.
Meshel Hall was built in 1986 on YSU’s campus, specifically to house technology studies. But students in the Computer Science and Information Systems program say the building is being used less and less for technology.
Nineteen students and at least one former student showed up wearing t-shirts that read, “We need ALL of Meshel Hall.” The protest was in response to the building’s first floor space going to the university’s journalism program.
Currently, the Computer Science and Information Systems programs use just the first and third floors of the four-story building, and students say the program has been neglected.
“In January, President Obama called for more STEM in our high schools and in our colleges. We should be investing in our STEM programs. We should really be innovating,” said YSU Senior Jordan Vigorito.
Vigorito said much of the first floor Computer Science space is taken up by advanced computer labs and a networking lab, and he’s concerned they will lose both.
“We started out as a leader in 1986 with that building. Nobody else had anything like that, but so far, we’ve been surpassed by Carnegie Mellon, surpassed by Kent State, by Penn State,” he said.
It was former State Senator Harry Meshel who secured the funding to build the facility. Meshel graduated from YSU and during his years in the Ohio Senate, he said he brought more than $100 million to the university.
As a YSU trustee for the past nine years, Meshel’s last meeting was supposed to be on Wednesday, but he didn’t show up for the resolution read in honor of his service on the board.
Meshel said he missed that meeting on purpose, saying Tressel has been “demeaning” to the board.
“I’m not going to put up with those people trying to demean you. That’s all… this president is doing. He’s demeaning the board, and I’ve been trying to tell them don’t put up with that nonsense,” he said.
Tressel said he was disappointed that Meshel didn’t show up.
“I didn’t think we ever had a good meeting until there was a little bit of disagreement. That’s why he’s been such a good trustee, because he’s not going to sit and rubber stamp anything,” he said.
After the meeting, a group of students gathered around Provost Dr. Martin Abraham, who admitted mistakes may have been made.
“We may have squandered that opportunity, as Senator Meshel would tell us. We may have done that 30 years ago,” he said.
Abraham said the change was made to make sure YSU is using its space in the best way possible.
Tressel said he was willing to listen to students’ concerns.
“Sometimes with change, there’s a little bit of irritation, but that means they care, so I don’t mind that at all. In fact, if they took the time to go out and have some t-shirts made, it means they care,” he said.