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Ohio State drains Mirror Lake in effort to prevent jump

Ohio State drained Mirror Lake Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in an effort to prevent students from attempting the Mirror Lake jump. Credit: Edward Sutelan | Editor-in-Chief

Mirror Lake has been drained in an effort to discourage the “Mirror Lake jump,” according to an email from Ohio State’s Department of Public Safety.

“The safety of our campus community is always our top priority. Out of an abundance of caution and with the university’s focus on safety at top of mind, we are sharing that Mirror Lake has been temporarily drained,” said the email, which was co-signed by Jay Kasey, senior vice president of the Office of Administration and Planning, and Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston, senior vice president of the Office of Student Life.

The email reminded students that the Undergraduate Student Government called for an end to the jump, which traditionally occurred on the Tuesday before the Ohio State v. Michigan football game, three years prior.

“In 2015, Undergraduate Student Government approved a resolution calling for the end of the ‘Mirror Lake Jump,’” the email read. “The recent lake restoration, as well as this week’s draining, supports the university’s compelling commitment to end the Mirror Lake jump.”

USG’s decision to end the jump came after an Ohio State student died from jumping into the lake on Nov. 25, 2015.

Austin Singletary was found underwater just after midnight after participating in the jump. He later died at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center from a broken neck.

Mirror Lake had been under a major renovation that started in late 2016, and the district reopened with Pomerene Hall before autumn semester 2018.

USG Vice President Shawn Semmler said the focus has always been on student safety, and he and USG President Shamina Merchant felt the decision to drain the lake is the best way to prevent students from attempting the jump.

Semmler added that he felt there was rhetoric in the student body that suggested the jump would return in 2018 since the lake was back after an extended absence, but said there should be other ways to celebrate the week of Ohio State’s rivalry game against Michigan.

“There will be future traditions and celebrations of ‘Hate Michigan Week.’ The Mirror Lake jump is not that,” Semmler said. “The focus is on student safety forever and always. The decision to drain the lake really affirms that.”


  1. What happened with Singletary was a tragedy, but it was also a freak accident. The jump went on for decades with hardly more than some broken bones and hundreds of thousands of participants.

    It’s one of the best college traditions in the world. Let the kids jump.

    • You have no idea what your talking about Matt. Do your research. My sister broke her neck in mirror lake in 1985. She has since passed away from her injuries. She’s not the only one.

      • Can you provide any kind of proof of that, or any other injuries? I’ve been searching for that evidence for years and the worst I can find save Singletary is a broken leg.

        I’ve also gotta say that literally two serious injuries in 30 years with arguably more than a million participants…is a pretty good track record.

        • You’re seriously asking for proof of my sisters accident? As if someone would make that up!?
          Here you go and there were plenty of injuries prior to hers. We went through a long trial. I’m sorry you Don’t feel the death of at least 2 people and countless life-changing injuries is enough to stop this tradition: I take it you haven’t lost someone close to you from a death that could of and should have been prevented.


          • I was working at the hospital the night your sister came in to the Emergency Dept.

            I still remember seeing the look on your parents’ faces as they coming in to see her.

            What a terrible heartbreak for you all to endure.

        • Kelly doesn’t have to provide proof, sad enough her sister died,
          and it you did your research before making such a sweeping statement you would know about it too!

      • I would also point out that while people have jumped into ML since the late 60s on a limited basis… The modern jump tradition that attracts tens of thousands didn’t start until 1990. Five years after your sisters injury.

      • I’m not disbelieving; but this is the internet. People make stuff up all the time and unfortunately I can’t take even serious claims on faith anymore. I’m truly sorry for what happened to your sister and everything she went through.

        But the link you provided says she slipped and hit her head on a rock while walking home from a game. That doesn’t sound like it ha anything to do with the jump tradition.

        • She did not slip and hit her head. She was pushed in by an acquaintance. They were playing around. Not unlike what happens every year at Mirror Lake. I’m not going to argue the validity of my sisters story. Or it’s relevamce to this article. You simply don’t get it. My only point in commenting was to know what you’re talking about before you speak in broad terms. You don’t know the vast history of Mirror Lake. I do. And I never want anyone to experience what my family and the Singletarys have been through.

      • Your sisters accident could have happened anywhere. It was a tragic and freak course of events that lead to her race diving into a 3 foot pool. It is an awful horrible thing, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the jump tradition.

        I am well versed in the history of mirror lake, I’ve been researching the injuries related to the jump for several years now. Im sorry for everything your family went through, but I stand by my original statement.

        One horrible tragedy, Singletarys, in decades of this tradition and hundreds of thousands or more participants is not a real reason to end this tradition.

        Take care.

  2. There was also the young woman who broke her neck and is permanently paralyzed tho I believe they removed the stone substructure that was responsible for that. Hundreds or thousands of probably drunk college students diving into a cold lake is nothing but a recipe for disaster. Eventually some 300-pound Bruiser is going to land on a young lady’s head and break her neck. Or the crush will just cause some smaller person to drown. And if OSU sanctions this they will be legally liable for millions of dollars of lawsuits. if the kids want to get drunk and have fun just turn them out on the oval with a couple of fire hoses.

  3. This alum jumped every year without a problem. While it’s tragic that a student died, this tradition should continue. It’s one of the best memories of my time at Ohio State. Don’t ruin something amazing because one person foolishly dove head first into a shallow lake. Hundreds of thousands jumped without incident. Ohio State would save more lives by banning added sugar from meals than from banning the jump.

    • Don’t be an idiot simply bc it never happened to you or someone you know. Ugh.

      • Don’t be bombastic and insulting to people who aren’t even attacking you. It doesn’t help your argument and it devolves to conversation.

        Can you provide evidence of a history of serious injuries associated with the mirror lake jump?

    • It’s good that they’re draining the lake. For once, the university is doing something that helps student safety. Although I must admit, it’s funny how they’re not doing anything about underage drinking.

  4. So, OSU is promoting a “Hate Week?” How sad. Do the same people demonstrate against social hate? It is not the same OSU I attended. Maybe social and athletic hate was in it’s infancy at the time.

  5. I mean really, as an alumnus, who only gets to visit once a year, because I live out of state, I will be seeing a mud hole, instead of a redeveloped Mirror lake area. Back, in the 1970s, there was no such thing as a Mirror Lake jump. This stupidity developed well after I graduated. So, to prevent a few stupid, drunken people, from jumping in Mirror Lake, alumni, like myself, will not have the pleasure of visiting Mirror Lake Hollow, to see all the wonderful changes. Changes, that will look awful without a body of water.

  6. OSU spending millions of dollars to “redesign” the lake to be no deeper than knee high? Check

    OSU spending thousands of dollars draining the lake and refilling it after several weeks? Check

    Until OSU began regulating the jump, problems didn’t exist. (NOTE: that does not mean accidents during the jump did not exist. It simply means accidents that occurred were NOT the responsibility of the University and completely the responsibility of the person injured) If someone broke something jumping in, it was their own damn fault. Then OSU added police, lighting, fencing, gates, wristbands, and everything else, and claimed it still wasn’t a sanctioned event.

    I can go wander around aimlessly in the Olentangy River any day or night and no one can stop me, because there is no signage that says no swimming. The only signage against swimming urges people to stay away from the the water during heavy rains due to the overflow from the storm drains.

    All this is boils down to OSU not believing a human is an adult until they are 21 and have a degree in their hands. I’ve been around the campus for 15 years now. The amount of changes both on campus as well as off campus show OSU is doing nothing but turning young adults into children and approaching college education as an extension of high school.

    Aside from the listed draining of Mirror Lake, what else has happened? Even as late as 10 years ago, there were multiple campus dining options open past midnight every day of the week: Pizza at Drake (2AM), Burritos Noches (2AM), Mirror Lake Cafe (2AM), Marketplace (main open until 10PM, coffee shop until 2AM), and Woody’s (Old Union) and Sloopy’s (used to be open until 2AM on weekends). Campus recreational options have also dried up, with Jesse Ownes facilities closing before midnight now and more and more open spaces such as basketball courts being moved within controlled access areas like North Rec. The razing of High Street to replace local bars and restaurants with chain establishments and $1200 a month apartments is all a ploy to drive low income students away from the campus. The South Campus Gateway, once a very crowded getaway for students, has become nothing but offices for OSU’s gentrification program.

    It’s not just the loss of Mirror Lake jump that has ruined the soul and psyche of the campus community… It’s a planned and militantly executed program to entrain students into a belief that they must be coddled and protected as children until they graduate college.

    • Easy to say that when you only reside in Columbus for college. But even then, gentrification of High Street and surrounding areas has been beneficial. Before, there was a huge problem with street criminals and homeless people, not to mention drug addicts. Those issues are still there, but believe it or not, it’s much better than before.

      I’m sure now that you’ve graduated, you’ve moved out into the suburbs. But for those of us who grew up in REAL Columbus and attended Columbus City Schools, you should know that well-behaved Columbus residents wish for MORE gentrification. It has actually significantly improved both the city’s economy and public safety. It’s really the only alternative into turning into another Cleveland or Pittsburgh.

      As for the university treating students like “high schoolers,” they sort of have to. If they let young adults do whatever they want, underage drinking would be rampant as would accidents from dumb things like the “Mirror Lake Jump.” Plus, look at universities across the nation. They’re basically expensive high schools. Just like how in high school the teacher can yell at you and/or kick you out of the class, some of the professors here do the same. Just like how in high school the teacher grades unfairly, most of the professors here do the same. And similarly to high school, there’s really nothing you can do to challenge a bad grade. Professors, like public high school teachers, have ultimate power over your futures.

      So yes, there’s really no difference between university and public high school, aside from students being better-behaved/more studious in college, the obvious financial difference, and being able to do 18+ things (assuming one is 18 or up).

  7. There was no ML jump when I attended THE Ohio State University, learned only of it when the tragedy occurred and it was stated as a “tradition”…WHAT???!°
    As an institution of HIGhER LEARNING, THIS seems the DUMBEST TRADITION… on MORE than one level.
    Drain the lake, let THIS “tradition” die, not people (who arent intelligent enough to WANT to save themseles for a BRIGHT FUTURE).

  8. I want to clarify what I wrote earlier. I worked at the Ohio State Med Center from 1975 to 1997. One of my jobs at Administrative Associate was to handle press calls on evenings/nights and weekends. I was on duty when Kelly’s sister Kristi Elliott came in to the ED with that terrible injury.

    I didn’t remember her name, until Kelly posted the story. Immediately I knew it was the same person.

    As I mentioned above, I remember her coming in, and I distinctively remember her parents coming in, tearful and extremely concerned.

    I probably received press calls from local tv and radio and the Columbus Dispatch…I don’t remember.

    I never knew what happened to Kristi until I saw the article that Kelly linked above.

    I saw a lot sad things at the hospital over the years. One of them was seeing the look on the faces of Kristi and Kelly’s parents. I’ll never forget that.

    Bless the entire family, and bless Kristi’s memory.

  9. Matt you have no idea what your talking about. This tradition is so dangerous and it needed to be drained years ago. Your stupid if you think that jumping in the lake is a smart thing to do. Anything can happen and it could ruin your life. So please go back to your trailer and make me a hotpocket


    • Again; I’m not sure why people feel the need to insult and attack people on the internet. I may have a contrary opinion but I’ve been nothing but respectful.

      This tradition is less dangerous than driving to work in the morning. In it’s nearly 30 year run, with probably over 1-million separate participants, there were annually a handful of broken bones and VERY TRAGICALLY one freak accident that proved fatal. How many college kids annually go jump and mess around in lakes nationwide on spring break or during the summer? There are just as many, if not more, stones and hard/sharp objects in those bodies of water… and easily as much alcohol. The only differences here are the low temps, which in the 6-7 years I’ve gone to witness and/or partake it only fell below 50° F once, and the schools liability.

      You’re entitled to your opinions of course, but I would encourage you to talk to people who actually took part in or attended a Mirror Lake Jump. This fear of people getting killed or severely injured is incredibly misplaced.

      • “Less dangerous than driving to work in the morning…” Not sure how long ago you graduated and/or how long you lived in Columbus, but people here aren’t very good drivers. This is especially true the closer you are to the OSU main campus.

        “…annually a handful of broken bones…” Even ONE broken bone is too much, don’t you think? Same with even ONE sprain.

        And the water in Mirror Lake is filthy. Combine potentially infectious water with tens of thousands of drunk young adults in a VERY confined body of water, and getting accidentally injured and/or ill is inevitable.

  10. Since the university is so hard up to stop it, the students should simply move the tradition. Go wade/jump into the Olentangy River within sight of the stadium.

  11. A freshman male was killed in/by a freak,elevator accident 2006/2007 but no one says let’s close them and make the students take the stairs. Accidents happen but as a parent and a U.S. army veteran I know and accept accident happen. People die. People get hurt. Yes I have lost family and friends in accidents. But draining the Mirror Lake is another attempt to wrap kids in. Bubble wrap and never let them grow up with memories and traditions.

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