Amanda Waples, program manager for the office of student life, shows Tatyana Mason, an Ohio State alumna, how to install batteries into the smoke alarm. Credit: Courtesy of Rachel DeMooy

According to Columbus Police records, nearly 200 residential burglaries were reported in the last year in off-campus areas populated by students. Off-Campus and Commuter Student Services is contributing to the safety and well-being of Ohio State students who commute to campus by providing door and window alarms and light timers.

The department of Off-Campus and Commuter Student Services — which falls under the Office of Student Life — is providing students who commute to campus with several free safety devices to help ensure their safety, and has been doing so for at least 10 years, Rachel DeMooy, program manager for OCCSS, said. 

DeMooy said that OCCSS provides students who live off campus with these devices because it wants students who commute on a daily basis to feel empowered to do something about their own safety.

“We have provided safety devices to any Ohio State student who is interested in being a little bit more proactive about their safety and seeking out our services,” DeMooy said. “We started providing these services to students to help students feel a little bit more at ease and feel a little bit more in control of their safety off campus.”

DeMooy said that although students typically focus on other needs, they should make sure that they are taking care of themselves. 

Off-Campus and Commuter Student Services provides students with window and door alarms, light timers and smoke alarms. Credit: Courtesy of Rachel DeMooy

She also said that many students do not have a lot of extra income throughout their undergraduate and graduate years, so the office wanted to create a program that was accessible for every student, regardless of financial situation.

DeMooy said that Ohio State-area properties have chipped in to help fund the devices.  

“The local property area managers have really actually embraced this program and have been contributing a lot of the funding to be able to make the devices free,” DeMooy said.  

DeMooy said that since OCCSS started providing these devices, many off-campus students have dropped by the department’s office.

“We have several hundred students in our office picking up safety devices each month and asking us different questions about safety,” DeMooy said.

DeMooy added that the department hands out the devices to students at different events throughout the year, including its Off-Campus Living Expo, Community Ambassador Program and Roommate Fair. DeMooy said the department always runs out of the devices at these events.

She said that due to their partnership with the Columbus Fire Department, they give out other safety devices as well.

“In addition to the window and door alarms and light timers, we also provide smoke alarm batteries in our office for free and we also have a program called the Off-Campus Housing Excellence Program with the Columbus Fire Department where students can get a free home walk-through,” DeMooy said. 

During this walk-through, students will get a free report with an assessment of the safety, security and sustainability of their residence, DeMooy said. The fire department will show students how to test smoke alarms and fire extinguishers, and students can also receive a free carbon monoxide detector as well.

University spokesperson Dan Hedman said in an email that Ohio State’s Department of Public Safety encourages all students living off campus to utilize the devices. Hedman also said  students should lock their doors and windows and that they shouldn’t let unknown people inside their homes.

“Our top priority is the safety of the campus community,” Hedman said.