COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Hundreds of Ohio State students and parents marched Sunday night calling for change and honoring a former classmate.
The parents’ group Buckeyes For A Safe Ohio State organized the march to bring attention to the increase in violence around the Ohio State University campus. It was formed last year in the aftermath of the shooting death of fifth-year student Chase Meola.
“We formed a private Facebook page and it has all snowballed since then,” said Allyson Reid, who is both an OSU alumna and parent of a student.
While the university has made improvements on and off-campus since Meola’s death, Reid said more can be done.
“I mean, we all agree – it’s a great start and our kids love this school,” she said. “We love this school. We all have the same goal, but we need the university to act with urgency. Temporary lights need to be permanent lights. The landlords need to make sure they motion-enabled lights on every single property that they rent to students. We just feel like the pressure needs to stay on and we need to see cameras and lights and a lot of action.”
Reid and her co-organizers gathered the crowd at the corner of 15th Avenue and High Streets in the University District, just hundreds of feet from where Meola was killed.
“Tonight, we will shine a light to remember Chase’s bright smile, larger-than-life personality, and to remind Ohio State that a lot more needs to be done to permanently fix the safety issues on and around University District,” said march organizer Irene Kendrick. “We also want to bring attention to the university, the landlords, the city of Columbus, and anyone who’s not doing enough to keep all of the students at Ohio State safe.”
Students said they still remember what it felt like in the days after the shooting, a feeling they hope future Buckeyes won’t experience.
“It was just kind of scary to be around campus at night, especially anything past High Street,” said student Ethan Garee. “Kind of an eerie feeling after that happened. You got to be safe, don’t walk home alone. Call Lyft. Ask a friend to walk you home. I just think people need to act safer and think safer and think smarter.”
“I think tonight, having everyone come out and walk in memory of Chase and trying to promote lighting of campus, is a great step in unifying the student body and voice and showing that we want to keep Ohio State safe because we love it here. This is our home,” said student Caden Phillips.
Ohio State University released a statement about the walk and the anniversary of Meola’s death. It reads:
Our heartfelt sympathies are with the family and friends of Chase Meola. Last year, at the time of his tragic passing, the university honored Chase at the Nebraska football game with a moment of silence at the request of supporters of his family. Chase was also one of the students we honored at the remembrance ceremony the university holds each spring where we honor all students we lost throughout the academic year. We continue to mourn Chase and greatly miss him as a part of our Buckeye community.
We remain vigilant about crime on and off-campus and continue to take multiple measures to keep students, faculty, and staff safe. The safety of our campus community is our top priority. There are now 20 mobile lights and 9 mobile cameras in the University District, in addition to the 9 fixed location cameras previously added in those neighborhoods. In collaboration with the city of Columbus, we are focused on adding safety resources to the pathways most traveled by our students.
We engage with students, faculty, staff, parents, and other community members regularly. The Task Force on Community Safety and Well-Being is composed of students, faculty, and staff working alongside police and administrators. There is also a Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) composed of Ohio State students, faculty, and staff that meets regularly with all divisions within the Department of Public Safety, with the goal of obtaining their feedback and assistance in our work toward enhancing the safety and well-being of all members of our university community. We value and respect the feedback from members of our community and we continue to be grateful for all those partnerships and resources that have come to bear with a shared commitment to creating a safer community.