New safety class, devices available to enhance student safety

The following message was shared with all Ohio State students, faculty and staff on Wednesday, September 29, 2021.

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Last week, we announced a number of new safety enhancements to begin taking effect immediately. These include additional lighting, cameras, and security in the off-campus area in addition to the existing increased police patrols we already have in place, as well as extending the Lyft Ride Smart program to the Short North area. There are no caps on the number of rides the Lyft Ride Smart program can provide at a reduced cost.

The safety of our students and the entire Buckeye community is my top priority, and I have directed the university to take additional steps to help keep our community safe and informed. The following new offerings provide students with additional tools and give parents and families more information about what’s happening around campus. Each of these actions comes as a result of recommendations from the Task Force on Community Safety and Well-Being, made up of students, faculty, staff and community partners.

  • Ohio State’s online student safety class has launched. Filmed with local experts on High Street and around the campus area, the approximately one-hour course teaches students how to enhance their own safety through scenario-based exercises. Students can take the interactive “Stay Safe, Buckeyes” class via BuckeyeLearn. Parents and interested community members can watch all 10 videos that make up the course. Classes focus on topics most relevant to students who live and gather off-campus and include crime prevention, mental health, police engagement, harassing behavior, how to report a crime and the differences between Ohio State and Columbus police and where they patrol.
  • Portable personal safety devices are now available to students, who can attach them to their backpacks or purses and pull to signal a loud alarm. The Office of Student Life is offering thousands of these devices, which can attract attention in the case of an emergency. This is in addition to the nearly 5,000 window and door alarms, safety timers and smoke alarm batteries that have already been distributed to students this year. Students can register for a pickup time online to get one of the devices at Willie J. Young, Sr. Off-Campus and Commuter Student Engagement in the Ohio Union. Community Ambassadors will be on the Ohio Union West Plaza from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, September 30, and on the South Oval from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Friday, October 1, if students would like to stop by and pick up personal safety devices.
  • Ohio State News Alerts are now available to parents and families. This communications tool – introduced to students, faculty and staff last month – offers brief, timely updates designed to provide safety tips and information, health resources, traffic information and more. Interested Buckeye family members can click here to subscribe. These alerts are separate from the university’s crime and safety notices.
  • The Office of Student Life has expanded the size and scope of the Community Ambassador program. Ambassadors are students who serve as off-campus advocates and focus on an assigned off-campus area to help promote a safer, more engaged and more collaborative community. By developing trust with students and residents, community ambassadors learn about the successes and challenges specific to University District students and long-term residents, allowing them to offer relevant and timely solutions.

We have fully or partially implemented 13 of the task force’s 15 recommendations in addition to several steps in collaboration with the university’s safety team and the city of Columbus. We remain committed to partnering with our community and leaders in Columbus around both short- and long-term strategies to enhance safety, health and well-being. An overview of safety measures and actions, and how the university has communicated about safety issues, can be viewed on the Department of Public Safety website.

I look forward to sharing more soon, as we continue to prioritize the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff.

Sincerely yours,

Kristina M. Johnson, PhD