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Commentary: Safety concerns raised after secret roommate discovered near Ohio State

Some OSU students living on 13th Avenue recently discovered a stranger was living in their basement.

Some OSU students living on 13th Avenue recently discovered a stranger was living in their basement. Credit: Chelsea Spears / Asst. multimedia editor

From the frequent public safety notice emails to nearly constant scary stories passed amongst students and friends to the latest Lantern coverage of the unknown roommate living in a house with students, Ohio State’s campus has had an extra eerie feel to it as of late.

Having the luxury of attending a Big Ten school that sits in the middle of a large city with a great number of restaurants and shops is rare. OSU combines the college atmosphere with an abundant city life.

However, the close proximity of campus to such a big city— Columbus has a population of about 800,000 according to Census Bureau— along with the added typical crazy college environment of any big school, comes with a constant risk of crime.

The Lantern recently broke the story of an unknown roommate that was found to be living in the basement of a house of OSU students on 13th Avenue. The story received national and international attention and, of course, caught the attention of many OSU students.

Home break-ins and attacks on campus have been of major concern at OSU in the recent years due to increased attention to crime on campus and in the close surrounding area.

It has not exactly been rare to hear of students getting jumped on campus or while walking to their off-campus houses, nor is it rare to hear of home burglaries near campus.

The story by The Lantern likely got students who were already concerned about the safety at their off-campus homes thinking about the real risks.

The unwelcome roommate living in the house on 13th Avenue proved to be harmless to the residents of the house, but the story did not fail to incite fear in some OSU students. That situation could have gone very differently.

Vanessa Aldag, a fifth-year in early childhood education, said the story has impacted how she views campus safety.

“I feel unsafe knowing that there might be someone that could potentially be in my house. It has made my roommates and I more cautious about locking doors and windows,” Aldag said.

This is the dark and unfortunate side of a campus as heavily populated and alive as OSU’s.

The fear I feel walking at night, whether it is home from the library or to a party off campus, is always heightened. I would never dare walk anywhere alone or without a friend knowing where I am coming from and where I am heading.

The university has made efforts to keep students informed of crimes occurring off campus and in the surrounding area. The public safety notice emails sent to students give a detailed description of where and when the crimes occurred and any other important information students may need to know to stay safe.

According to The Ohio State University Department of Public Safety website, there have been three public safety notice emails to the student body since the start of the school year in August.

There were also several emails sent out last year by former OSU President E. Gordon Gee to alert students of the heightened crime rates and how to be safer on- and off-campus.

Some students see different measures OSU could be taking to keep students safe.

“Information is kind of key and they could send out more messages about being safe on campus, what is going on where, what you can do to prevent those crimes,” said Tyler La Susa, a third-year in civil engineering.

I have never personally felt overly safe at OSU and, although I know the university has made and continues to make efforts to keep students safe, I don’t think I will ever feel comfortable walking on- or off-campus without pepper spray firmly clutched in my palm.

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