Ohio State Ramps Up Safety Campaign After Student Injuries

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Ohio State University President Gordon Gee greets volunteers for student safety awareness campaign.(Photo: Tom Borgerding/WOSU News)
Ohio State University President Gordon Gee greets volunteers for student safety awareness campaign.(Photo: Tom Borgerding/WOSU News)

More than 200 volunteers in flourescent green shirts fanned out across the Ohio State campus Friday afternoon.  Its part of a renewed safety campaign to prevent serious injuries on sidewalks and area streets.

The stepped up safety campaign comes after a handful of accidents during the first several weeks of classes on the OSU campus. All of the accidents involve either bicyclists or pedestrians. In one case, Columbus police say, Rachel Stump, a student, apparently walked into oncoming  traffic at Chittenden and High and was struck by an alleged drunk driver. In another case, a bicyclist was hit by a dump truck backing out of a campus construction site.

University president Gordon Gee says safety volunteers will work to remind students of potential hazards of earbuds,  hoodies, and texting while walking or bicycling.
“If you walk across our campus you see kids with earbuds, you see them with hoodies on, you see them texting and a lot of other things. That is a world, I can’t change that. I’m not going to ban cell phones or a right of other things. I would be ridden out of town on an immediate rail. But, in saying that we can make students aware.”  Says Gee.

Third year student Konner Hart pulls up short on his skateboard at 15th and High. He uses the four-wheeler to speed to class. He says the university will have an uphill battle in its bid to change sidewalk and campus street behavior among students.

“Well, obviously everyone listens to music  walking to class and with its going to be fall soon so there’ll be more hoodies worn. So, I think it’s going to effect people but I don’t think there’s really  much you can do about that. I mean people are just going to do what they want. They’re going to wear they’re headphones and they’re going to wear their  hoodies.” Says Hart.

While the university is using a soft approach with fliers and sidewalk engagement of students with volunteers. Columbus police have taken a different tack.  They have responded by issuing citations for jaywalking on High Street adjacent to the campus. So far, more than 240 tickets have been issued.
Ashley  Jackson-Cooper has been on the Ohio State campus for three years. She says during that time she’s become something of an anti-jaywalking evangelist.

“So, I saw a guy get hit. It was a really bad accident and it was right in front of me. He was jaywalking so since then, about two years ago, I don’t do it anymore. My friends try to get me to do it and I ususally stay across the street and wait until all the cars go by and everything.”  Says Jackson-Cooper.
OSU Police chief Paul Denton says his department is coordinating the effort with Columbus police.

“We communicate with Columbus police almost daily on a variety of issues. In fact, they’re part of this collaboration.”  Says Denton.

While Ohio State and Columbus police work to build awareness of safety in and around the campus. A task force appointed by OSU president Gordon Gee is expected to report back by October 1st.  Chief Denton says it will recommend ways to boost pedestrian and bicycle safety.

“Certainly the tragic accidents which occurred since the first of this academic year brought this to the forefront and that’s really what this positive thing, if there is such something  that came out of a tragedy, that brought this group with this initiative together. ” Says Denton.

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