For a while, it seemed as though the ducks might make more of a splash than any students.
Last year, students jumped in the lake a night early in response to a university policy change that required them to get wristbands to enter the Mirror Lake area for the traditional jump before the Michigan game. There were also fences erected around the area prohibiting entry.
This year, students also jumped a night early, on Monday, to protest the fences and wristbands.
As of Monday evening, more than 380 people had responded to a Facebook event for “Mirror Lake Monday” saying they were going. The event was slated to occur at 8 p.m.
A student who helped organize the event — who asked to remain anonymous because he was currently pursuing a job and didn’t want to be associated with the event — said he created the event after being involved in last year’s early jump.
“I created this event in part since I was involved in organising (sic) the Monday night jump last year on OSU’s subreddit and the other students that were involved last year have either all graduated or have no interest this year,” the student said via Facebook message.
The student added that he wasn’t sure how many people would actually show up.
“I do believe that opposition to the university administration’s sponsorship and regulation of the jump is widely held. I’m not sure however how many students will be willing to voice/display their opposition with police present at Mirror Lake,” hesaid.
At about 8:45 p.m., before there was a police presence around the lake, a group of nine students jumped in, although it seemed to be out of convenience rather than rebellion.
“I’m working before and during the actual jump tomorrow,” said Alex Cohen, a fourth-year in computer science and engineering.
“I’m leaving tomorrow to go home for Thanksgiving break,” said Zach Ponath, a first-year in visual communication and design.
While University Police and Columbus Division of Police officers were present throughout much of the night, they did not appear to be stopping students from entering the lake. A University Police officer referred inquiries to Capt. David Rose, who was not available for comment Monday evening. Two members from Student Safety Services, who were with the police officers, declined to comment.
But then officers started closing the fences and escorting any would-be jumpers out of the area, and before 10:50 p.m., all entrances were closed off.
A group of about 30 students, however, found a gap in the fence along 12th Avenue and rushed into the lake screaming.
At about 11 p.m., the lake was completely sealed off, and crowds started to gather at the fence on the South Oval. The crowd started chanting “We don’t give a damn about the whole state of Michigan,” “Let us jump,” and, in reference to the two mounted officers inside the fence, “Free the horses.”
An officer tried to calm the crowd of students, saying that the lake wasn’t safe to jump in, but it was to no avail. At about 11:30 p.m., a lone man ran through a gap in the fence, and the crowd reacted by cheering and subsequently knocking down the fence to join him at the lake.
No arrests were made Monday night, according to a Columbus Police officer, and students continued jumping past midnight.
E.J. Powers, a first-year in marketing, didn’t doubt that he’d get to jump Monday night.
“If 10 people showed up it wasn’t gonna happen, but since so many people showed up, we knew we were gonna get in,” Powers said. “(Jumping on Monday) is what they did last year, and it’s kind of an act of rebellion I guess.”
Powers — along with a couple thousand of his OSU classmates, according to a Facebook event for the Mirror Lake jump — plans on jumping Tuesday night as well.