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University: Stay dry on Mirror Lake night

Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor

Buckeye students and some loyal fans are preparing to take the cold plunge into Mirror Lake, but university departments advise that students refrain from the Michigan Week tradition.
“Student Life strongly, strongly discourages students from taking part in the Mirror Lake jump,” said Office of Student Life spokesman Dave Isaacs. “This is not a university sanctioned event. It’s not safe and we don’t want to see any student injured in any way.”
More than 2,500 spectators watched as about 300 participants were in the lake during the hours after midnight last year.
In 2010 an estimated 30,000 people came out for the event, which led to six arrests and several people being treated at Wexner Medical Center for a range of ailments, including hypothermia and sprained ankles. Three students were arrested in 2011 for disorderly conduct, and another for assault on an officer and resisting arrest, according to Lantern archives.
With the jump Tuesday, Isaacs said there is a list of reasons why students shouldn’t jump.
“It is generally a cold night,” Isaacs said. “The water is cold, the air is cold and that means that hypothermia is a significant risk.”
Tuesday evening the temperature is expected to drop to 43 degrees with a 20 percent chance of rain, according to The Weather Channel. The weather is expected to be similar to last year’s Mirror Lake jump where winds between 19 and 30 mph made the mid-50s temperature feel more like 43 degrees.
“The bottom is rocky, lending itself to cuts. There is garbage underwater, all sorts of things accumulated. You really don’t even want to think about what you are stepping in,” he said.
Despite the advice from the university, many students still plan on jumping and believe taking part in the “tradition” is a rite of passage at Ohio State.
“If you go to Ohio State, you have to jump in Mirror Lake at least once throughout your career here,” said Andrea Lager, a fourth-year in communication. “I would feel weird not jumping in Mirror Lake if I couldn’t. Even if you don’t like football or anything, it’s tradition. It unites you as a school.”
Isaacs said that many students who jump in Mirror Lake use alcohol in excess, and at least one student warned against getting too drunk before taking the plunge.  
“Do not drink so much that you can’t do it (jump in Mirror Lake) and not too much where you are unaware of your surroundings,” said Carli Vandrak, a fourth-year in English. “You could potentially drown. Drink responsibly and know your limits when it comes to how cold it can get.”
Some might believe that using alcohol can help their body shield the cold. However, Isaacs said using alcohol greatly affects the student’s safety for a variety of reasons.
“Alcohol does nothing to keep you warm in any way,” Isaacs said. “In fact, alcohol actually increases the shock to your body. In addition, alcohol can impair judgement, and impaired judgement can lead to unfortunate decisions and serious injury.”
Isaacs said he doesn’t support the event.
“We have a lot of wonderful traditions here at Ohio State University,” Isaacs said. “This isn’t one of them.”
Still, thousands plan on jumping. More than 4,000 people have confirmed their participation via several Mirror Lake Jump 2012 events on Facebook. Some believe that the jump symbolizes OSU unity.
“It builds school spirit,” Lager said. “It’s tradition. It’s what you do for beat Michigan.”
Isaacs said there will be “a full complement” of university personnel around the Mirror Lake area to help injured students. Isaacs also said that if students are injured, they also have the option to go to an emergency room.
“It’s just not an appropriate activity,” Isaacs said. “I understand, but it’s just not appropriate. Too much danger.”

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