Just days after Skylar Williams, a student at the Mansfield Campus of The Ohio State University, was abducted and killed, a forum was held to help students express themselves and get some answers.
A few dozen people showed up for the forum, including many still coming to grips with what happened.
The forum was closed to the media.
The school wanted to give students an environment where they would feel comfortable speaking and sharing how they were feeling.
Those involved told NBC4 the meeting was beneficial on multiple levels.
According to school officials, the forum started with a moment of silence and then questions were taken.
Monica Moll, the school’s director of public safety, was there and participated on the panel.
“It is difficult this close to a tragedy like that when some of these students knew the person involved to really say the mood was anything other than somber, that everyone is still very sad about what occurred and processing those emotions,” Moll said afterward.
NBC 4 also talked to freshman Austin Armstead.
Armstead tried to intervene in the abduction but was unable to stop it from occurring.
Armstead agreed with Moll’s assessment and said fellow students are making progress coming to terms with what happened.
“I think people are coming around,” said Armstead. “We’re all coming together as a community. We’re doing things like this, there is counseling available and people are just being, you know, really sensitive to how people are feeling and just all kind of healing together.”
Friday’s forum offered some students and parents the opportunity to ask questions, and share what was on their mind about how to make the campus as safe as possible.
Armstead says many good ideas were brought up, and good information was shared on policies and procedures.
Moll says, reconnecting with the students in this way helped them bring some of the information they were given at the beginning of the year back to the forefront.
“By the end, I think everybody was happy with the suggestions they made and what everybody that was on the panel discussed and what they said they were going to do as quick as possible,” said Armstead.
As a result of the forum, Armstead said the school may consider adding cell phone charging stations around campus so students always have a charged phone in case of an emergency.
Armstead says Moll mentioned that it could be a low-cost option that the school may look into.
Moll didn’t go into as much detail during our discussion about the charging stations but did say that there was a lot of discussion about the Run/Hide/Fight video that is provided to all students, among other policies like campus-wide alerts and when and how they are used.
“I do think they felt more informed about safety procedures and what to do and what not to do if they should witness something,” said Moll.
Students are coming up on Spring Break soon and Armstead says that could be very beneficial to those that knew Williams.
While they don’t want to forget what has happened, he said, some students here are finding it difficult to concentrate and are hoping spring break will let them escape all of this for a few days, giving them a chance to reset for a final push through the end of the semester.
Armstead also says a memorial on campus could provide some with an opportunity to speak what is on their hearts and minds or give their condolences to the family.