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  • Writer's pictureJoe Motil

Parents of OSU Students Demand Safety for Their Children

COLUMBUS, OH – I have received 37 emails since Monday, August 21, from concerned parents of Ohio State University students regarding violence on the OSU campus and the surrounding neighborhoods. They have sent a request for immediate response to at least 17 OSU, City of Columbus, and state officials including Columbus Chief of Police Elaine Bryant, Mayor Andy Ginther, Public Safety Director Kate Pishotti, OSU Chief of Police Kimberly-Spears McNatt, Monica Moll, Governor DeWine’s Press Secretary, OSU Board of Trustees, and The OSU President's Office.

In part, the parents email (see attached) has requested information on:

  • How OSU police are collaborating with the Columbus Division of Police

  • What concrete plans are being implemented for increased campus security

  • What steps are being taken to upgrade surveillance systems across campus

  • Has OSU developed or revised emergency protocols and preparedness

  • Requested an update regarding the vacancy of OSU’s President’s office

Following at least two well publicized damaging attacks on students on North High Street, including an All-American OSU wrestler, Andy Ginther’s August 21, WSYX response to safety in the University District was completely uninformed, inadequate and unfeeling.

"Any shooting in any neighborhood involving any of our neighbors is unacceptable," the mayor said. "We feel like everyone in the city should feel safe in their neighborhood. Our undergraduate students and everyone across the city. We are going to do everything in our power to make sure they are safe."

Andy Ginther and home institutions like OSU need to stop talking and start doing. I’m out in the community listening to community leaders and law enforcement and not just putting out generic statements to appease the press. I bought my first home and lived in the University District for 15 years. I have resided in the Clintonville neighborhood that borders the OSU campus to the north for 52 years and have remained active in the University District for nearly 40 years.

I know the neighborhood as well as anyone and understand how and why violence continues to rise there. To begin with, no one can transform the OSU-High Street corridor into a clean and shiny suburban like strip mall and lead people to think it is now a safe haven for students. Crime in Columbus and in the OSU/University District, result directly from decades of overall disinvestment into the lives of our underserved and neglected neighborhoods throughout Columbus. OSU Students and University District local homeowners alike testify to the lack of public safety and law enforcement by the city of Columbus, OSU and absentee landlords.

In my recent phone conversations with several OSU student parents, one told me that she and her husband graduated from OSU and one of their children is a sophomore. They do not intend on sending their next college child to OSU because they fear for his safety.

Another told me that violent crime in the campus area is largely unreported. This does not surprise me especially when you look OSU’s misconduct in the Dr. Strauss sexual abuse cases.

Now we have the shooting of OSU All American wrestler, Sammy Sasso, the brutal beating Kyle Walker, a recent house fire because of un-inspected faulty electrical wiring and smoke detectors that did not work, a roof collapse that injured dozen of students, and a shooting outside of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity that killed 23-year-old Chase Meola.

In 2014 a dozen students were displaced due to a house fire on Summit Street. In April of 2003, a sofa on an outside porch caught fire on 17th Avenue. It engulfed two homes and killed five OSU students. Yet illegal upholstered furniture on porches are still routinely observed. And in March of 1994, 18-year-old freshman Stephanie Hummer had been kidnapped near her dorm and murdered.

These tragic deaths, violent incidents, and other safety concerns can to a large degree be attributed to city of Columbus officials, a large public university, and absentee landlords that have turned a blind eye to a neighborhood that has been unregulated and neglected for quite some time.

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