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Gee addresses students’ crime concerns

Cody Cousino / Photo editor

After a tumultuous seven months of on- and off-campus crime, President E. Gordon Gee addressed safety concerns, saying he felt joint jurisdiction between Ohio State Police and Columbus Division of Police should be a priority and he has no intention of changing OSU’s code which prevents students from carrying guns on campus.

In a town-hall style meeting Tuesday in the Cartoon Room of the Ohio Union, Gee and other OSU officials answered several questions about campus safety.

Gee said the university has taken large measures to ensure off-campus safety.

“This is an urban area,” Gee said. “Whenever you are in a big city, no matter what it is, we need to teach rules and roles of safety. Nonetheless, I do know the neighborhood and I want to continue to see it improved.”

Gee said the purpose of the meeting was to hear from students about suggestions for how they want the university to approach safety issues.

“This is not about us telling you what we are doing, this is about us hearing what we need to be doing,” Gee said.

University Police Chief Paul Denton and Sean McLaughlin, director of off-campus and commuter student engagement, joined Gee.

Denton said while some crimes were highlighted and well-publicized, there weren’t any significant crime problems on campus during Winter Quarter.

While many of the crimes happen in the off-campus area, this area is under the jurisdiction and responsibility of the Columbus Police, Denton said.

“We do work very closely in partnership with them, we share a lot of information almost on daily basis,” Denton said.

Aaron Peacock, a third-year in criminology who had to receive plastic surgery after being assaulted and robbed last November, said joint jurisdiction should be a priority of Columbus Police and University Police.

“University Police have police authority on university property,” Denton said. “There are agreements called mutual-aid agreements that allow agencies to share resources off your own jurisdiction.”

Denton said both agencies are in talks to work out a mutual aid agreement in the next couple of months. Gee said this is a priority for OSU.

“We are very committed to making this happen,” Gee said.

Michael Newbern, a second-year in industrial system engineering and president for Buckeyes for Concealed Carry on Campus, said the crime rate trends down during Winter Quarter during most years because of the weather.

“Winter Quarter goes around, the crime doesn’t trend back up yet because conditions outside aren’t really favorable,” Newbern said.

During the meeting, Newbern asked Gee about the idea of allowing students to legally carry firearms on campus.

Gee said he does not believe in allowing guns on campus property, and said there is no compelling reason to change the Student Code of Conduct.

“You and I can debate that all day long and you have clear arguments,” Gee said. “But I’m in charge and we’re not going to do it … I have looked at these issues very, very carefully, it is not in the interest of a great university whereabouts, the ideas of allowing guns.”

Denton said one of the improvements in the safety of on- and off-campus areas was the addition of vehicles to the Student Safety Service program.

After a string of robberies during Autumn Quarter, Student Safety Services received a $50,000 upgrade and was able to add two Subaru Foresters to its fleet, bringing the organization’s total number of vehicles to six.

Denton said about 90 percent of all Student Safety Service requests were fulfilled in Winter Quarter.

Gee and McLaughlin said the university is working very hard with the city to improve the quality of the lighting.

“We have done a lot of work actually with the lights,” McLaughlin said. “We know there are some areas that are still dark … and we need to continue to think about some additive lighting.”

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