Police on alert following Mirror Lake social post on OSU campus

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Social media is an interesting place with interesting people who, at times, make questionable decisions and share them with everyone.

One such questionable decision was made by a pair on the campus of the Ohio State University this week.​

The pair filmed a somewhat good-natured holiday greeting and posted it to Instagram where more than 1,500 people have viewed it as of publication.

​The video shows a black male clad only in red shorts and a Santa cap speaking to the camera.

“Happy Holidays; Go OSU, beat Clemson; [expletive] y’all,” says the man, before running into Mirror Lake on the OSU campus, submerging himself up to his waist before quickly turning around and heading back to shore, short of breath from the cold temperature of the water.​

The caption of the video on Instagram, which was edited two days after it was shot and presumably after campus police made contact with the one or both of the pair, reads: ​

Black Santa’s gift to OSU, a W on the 28th.​
P.S. Please DO NOT, for the love of Brutus, recreate this. Thank you.​

According to campus police, both men are being charged with criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor charge.​

In the past, the university was tolerant of a tradition where students would jump into Mirror Lake prior to the rivalry game against the University of Michigan. ​

More concerned with the safety of those breaking the law than issuing citations, police attempted to maintain order during those events.​

Then, in 2015, a student died during the tradition.

​Since then, efforts have been made by the University and student government to eliminate the tradition and replace it with something safer.

​Still, some people haven’t been able to let go of the desire to run out into the shallow pond or jump into it — at their own peril.​

Several alumni were on campus Friday while students are on break and weighed in on what happened this week.​

A more recent graduate wishing only to be identified as Annacie was vexed by the antics.

“I think he shouldn’t have done that in the first place and it’s very irresponsible and stupid,” she said.

​A couple who met on the OSU campus while they were students and have since married also weighed in.​ Their perspective was slightly different.

Having both participated in the tradition when it was still allowed, they recalled the fun of the event and said they always felt safe with police around.​

However, they do also recall the tragedy in 2015 and understand the need to bring this particular tradition to an end.​

“Out of respect for the University and the change they’ve tried to make to the tradition, so I would not do it and wouldn’t encourage friends,” said Emily Petrilla. “That’s done.”

“Yeah,” agreed her husband, Andrew. “The fact that someone did get hurt at some point, and well, passed away from it, I think was enough of a period to that time.”

Emily said there has to be some accountability for those who break the rules so blatantly.

“There has to be a system in place and, hopefully, they’ll look back and know that what they did, they did, and they have the consequence for it, and they can move on from it,” she said.​

But not everyone was on board with the stiffness of the penalty for trespassing in the lake.

Current OSU senior Harper Nelson has always wanted to participate in the tradition but never has.

“I could see the getting in trouble, but I don’t think, like, charges need to be pressed,” Nelson said. “I feel like a scolding is okay. I don’t think a misdemeanor, or court, or fines, is necessary.”

​While Nelson does have some regrets he didn’t participate in the organized jump when he was a freshman, before the tradition was shut down, he said those regrets aren’t that strong due to the crackdown and ensuing possible charges.

When it comes to campus police, they said they’re handcuffed when this stuff pops up on social media. They don’t want to press charges, but when people blatantly disregard the law and flaunt it online, they don’t have much choice.​

As for the lake itself, the university has no plans to drain it ahead of the game against Clemson this weekend. The school is still deciding if it will pursue that option if the Buckeyes win on Saturday night and make it to the National Championship.​

In the meantime, OSU plans to increase police presence in the area to keep an eye out for people breaking the law.​

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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