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USG to host safety town hall

Sunder Sai, a second-year neuroscience, shows the Student Safety Packs, which will be available during the town hall on April 12. Credit: Courtesy of Nathan Loos

Sunder Sai, a second-year neuroscience, shows the Student Safety Packs, which will be available during the town hall on April 12. Credit: Courtesy of Nathan Loos

Ohio State’s Undergraduate Student Government is set to address current issues revolving around student safety during a town hall panel consisting of public safety professionals from across campus and Columbus at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

The event will provide students with a way to interact with the University Police Department’s Acting Chief of Police Craig Stone; Columbus Division of Police Deputy Chief of the Patrol North Subdivision Thomas A. Quinlan; OSU’s Director of Emergency Management Bob Armstrong; Columbus Public Safety Chair Councilman Mitchell J. Brown; and OSU Off-campus and Commuter Student Services’ Community Ambassador Student Supervisor Ezra Baker.

Sunder Sai, deputy director of health and safety for USG and a second-year in neuroscience, said he noticed the need for more open lines of communication within student-safety services. After discussing his ideas with public safety employees, Sai proposed a plan for this town hall meeting.

OSU Department of Public Safety agreed and began the planning process with Sai a couple months ago.

“I saw the events of last semester, and I took it as an alarm, and a lot of students aren’t aware of how everything works with safety,” he said in reference to the Mirror Lake incident, a stabbing off campus and the shooting at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Sai expressed his concern that OSU did not have a student-safety town hall meeting and after researching several other universities and noticing various, frequent crimes occurring last semester at other institutions, he began planning a town hall.

Gerard Basalla, president of USG and a third-year in communication, said he is excited to see the town hall efforts impact students.

“It is incredible that we have the opportunity to bring community leaders together with the public to have an important dialogue on public safety,” he said. “I can’t wait to see this conversation’s impact on Ohio State’s campus.”

The agenda will cover several key points of concern for on- and off-campus safety.

A main goal of the meeting will be for students to further understand the logistics and reasoning behind the safety notifications and how they work, Sai said.

Sai said he believes students don’t completely understand what qualifies for a notification and how those notifications are sent out or how to sign up for alerts.

“Frequently, students question where the notifications are and why aren’t  they coming fast enough, why aren’t they more clear,” Sai said.

Columbus Police is set to be there to discuss the off-campus lighting situation, as CPD is responsible for what lights are illuminated in the campus area.

Sai said that CPD and OSUPD plan to come together to educate students on joint patrol and joint jurisdiction, as many of OSU students reside off-campus in the CPD-controlled area.

Stone, a featured panelist, is slated to present about Operation Safeguard, which was launched in the Autumn 2014 and Spring 2015 semesters, and the Community Crime Patrol.

Operation Safeguard is a campus initiative which allows student officers from the Student Safety Services to assist police officers in their nightly patrolling in neighborhoods east of North High Street every day with extended hours on Friday and Saturday.

Community Crime Patrol is a group of citizen patrollers dedicated to increasing safety in Columbus neighborhoods. The CCP website reports there are currently 35-40 patrollers in five near-campus areas.

“The Campus Safety Town Hall will give students the opportunity to learn about safety on and off campus and interact with public-safety officials,” Stone said in an email. “Also, a driving simulator to educate students on the dangers of distracted driving … donated by the Maria Tiberi Foundation will (be) available for students to test drive after the event.”

Students will also be able to ask questions and voice concerns about extended wait times for the Student Safety Services’ Safe Ride program.

There will also be presenters advocating the Bug Your Bike and Share the Road programs, as many crimes involve stolen bikes on and around campus. Additionally, student safety packs will be available for off-campus students to pick up, which include safety and wellness items like door alarms, light timers and brochures.

Students are encouraged to send in anonymous questions and comments for the panelists if they are unable to attend. The form can be found at www.go.osu.edu/safetyquestions.

RSVP’s can be sent to www.go.osu.edu/leadersrsvp. Representatives from 20 student organizations will be in attendance.

The forum will take place in the U.S. Bank Conference Theater in the Ohio Union at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

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