Fences fall: Ohio State fans swarm Mirror Lake early

November 26, 2013

Some Ohio State fans knocked down chain-link fences and jumped in Mirror Lake Monday night after new restrictions on the Mirror Lake jump were announced Sunday.

OSU officials had announced there would be increased safety and security efforts for the Mirror Lake jump, originally planned for Tuesday night. Fences were installed surrounding Mirror Lake with one designated entrance spot and multiple exits. Students, whether jumping or watching, were set to be required to wear a wristband issued to those with BuckIDs only for admission to the area Tuesday, causing some students to take to social media and plan an alternative event.

Jumping in Mirror Lake before the OSU football game against the University of Michigan is a university tradition, though it is not officially university-sanctioned.

A Facebook event and Twitter page were created, encouraging others to jump Monday at 11:45 p.m. instead of Tuesday. More than 800 people had responded that they were going to attend as of 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, while more than 8,000 were invited on Facebook.

Police officers did not stop people from entering the area at about 11:45 p.m. Monday.

A University Police officer said at its peak, there were an estimated 1,500 people at the lake Monday night. There were no injuries or arrests reported as of 12:15 a.m. Tuesday, said officers from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

Police forces present included Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and University Police, the officers said.

It was 32 degrees and snowing as of 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Weather Channel.

Representatives of OSU’s Student Life were not available for comment Monday night about what would happen with Tuesday’s scheduled jump.

OSU Vice President for Student Life Javaune Adams-Gaston said Sunday she was unconcerned with students’ negative reactions to the announced university restrictions.

“I have great faith in our students, I know that change is difficult and people have the right to have views about that change, but I also know that our student population is one that is spirited and not disruptive,” Adams-Gaston told The Lantern.

University Police Chief Paul Denton told The Lantern Sunday the messages about knocking down fences or jumping early didn’t “give (police) much concern.”

“We’ve got great partnership and trust in the students as well from a public safety standpoint,” Denton said.  “I don’t think that will happen (students tearing down fences) and I sincerely believe our students will come and have a good time as they always have … but there will be a police and security presence continuing over the next few days.”

“We’re ready, as we always are (if students jump early).”

Some OSU students who participated in Monday’s jump said they did it to continue the legacy.

“We wanted a night that is unregulated and something the students can own and can continue a really fun and really great tradition,” said Morgan Johnson, a first-year in public affairs.

Patrick Mortenson, a fourth-year in political science who jumped Monday, said he strongly disagreed with the university’s new restrictions.

“This is what the tradition is all about. Every year I have been here, the university has sent me an email saying don’t do the jump, it’s not a tradition,” Mortenson said. “Yet we come here and we do the jump every f—— year. And it’s been like that every year since my dad was here, since my grandpa was here. So why say it’s a tradition but make it an official jump day?”

After the first Monday Mirror Lake jump Facebook event was taken down, Ben Baaske, an OSU student in anthropology, said he decided to make a new page.

“I was part of the Facebook page that was put up initially by a guy … All of a sudden it was gone. It was removed. So we were just kinda messing around for a little bit, like someone should start up a new one. I was like, ‘OK.’ And I just started one up. And then all of a sudden this happened,” Baaske told The Lantern Monday.

He said about 50 people from the Facebook group showed up Monday at 11:45 p.m. to walk together to the lake.

Impromptu jumps have occurred in the past, including in 2011 when thousands of students gathered at the lake to celebrate the announcement of Osama Bin Laden’s death.

A Cleveland-area lawyer told The Lantern Monday the new measures planned for Tuesday’s jump could increase OSU’s liability if a student gets injured.

“It sounds like they’re increasing their liability by regulating it,” said the lawyer, who has worked in insurance defense and personal injury plaintiff practice throughout his career and requested anonymity because of the ongoing nature of the university regulations and the short notice on which those regulations were released. “Basically, at the time that they permit something to occur on their property and especially since they’re monitoring the people going in and out, they would have moral responsibility.”

A request from The Lantern for comment from OSU’s legal counsel was forwarded to OSU spokesman Gary Lewis, who said liability issues are not at the forefront of OSU officials’ reasoning for the new safety measures.

“The well-being of Ohio State students is our top priority, and for that reason, we will take appropriate efforts to maintain safety and security. Liability concerns, while important, are secondary to our efforts to promote the safety of our students,” Lewis said in a Monday email.

He did not provide additional comment about what liability concerns OSU would face if students were injured or in response to the attorney’s statement that the university’s liability could be increased.

Baaske said he doesn’t know if he’ll jump again Tuesday night or not.

“I have to get ahold of a bracelet first,” he said. “I don’t have one of those yet, but I might look into it.”

Liz Young contributed to this article.

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Comments (12)

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  1. Hello Kitties says:

    Patrick: “…since my grandpa was here…”

    Weird since we started this in the 80’s. Unless your Grandpa went here in the 80’s…that’s cool and all.

  2. Hello Kitties says:

    Sorry…the 90’s. Even more impressive for your Grandpa when the tradition started.

  3. Carmen Ohio says:

    The Mirror Lake jump has been around since 1902. In those days, lower classmen were thrown in by upper classmen. The practice was later protested, and a cap burning session, by lower classmen was to be held; ending somewhat violently; with 103 underclassmen thrown into the river. tOSU at the time tried to end the practice, but Bucket & Dipper, as well as the various greek organizations continued the hazing practice for a few more years.

    The practice was later ended for a few years, until the 1950s, during May Week, when people were jumping in on their own for school spirit. May Week of that era and TTUN week began to take on similar traditions; traditions that would eventually lead to the modern day Mirror Lake jump.

    A 1950 Lantern article shows that then-football coach Wesley Fesler was upset by the lack of spirit among tOSU students and asked students to attend a final pep rally before the Michigan game. There was a torchlight parade led by the TBDBITL throughout the campus area in order to bring the students to the rally.

    A 1953 Lantern article states that the May Week “kick-off” rally took place in Mirror Lake Hollow and was preceded by a march through the University District, led by none other than the band.

    As May Week took on less meaning and “Beat Michigan Week” took on more, the tradition of the band leading students to a rally became a niché in “Beat Michigan” culture.

    BTW: This was also how “The Phantom Band” came to be during the tradition. ;-)

    Now you know… GO BUCKS!

  4. Erik Cudd says:

    “A 1950 Lantern article shows that then-football coach Wesley Fesler was upset by the lack of spirit among tOSU students and asked students to attend a final pep rally before the Michigan game. There was a torchlight parade led by the TBDBITL throughout the campus area in order to bring the students to the rally.

    A 1953 Lantern article states that the May Week “kick-off” rally took place in Mirror Lake Hollow and was preceded by a march through the University District, led by none other than the band.”

    We should bring this tradition back. Sounds like a great pep rally, and could be an awesome leadup to the Lake Jump! Hey Lantern, how about an article outlining this history of the traditions from the past which has led to the present day chaos that is the Mirror Lake Jump! I for one would go watch if there was still a parade led by TBDBITL!

    Just a thought!


  5. Nancy Stemmer says:

    I attended OSU ’67 – ’71 and there was no Mirror Lake jump. I too would be interested in the history of that particular tradition, since I missed it.

  6. Old Timer says:

    The grads I know who attended OSU during the 80’s never heard of the jump. However the tradition was alive and well in the early 90’s when I attended.

    The phantom band would serenade each group of dorms (starting at south campus?) calling out the students—the group getting bigger and bigger as it looped to the north dorms then to the towers and finally to Mirror Lake.

    Great traditions make great memories (which thenmakes great alums). It’s a pity the current administration is so tone deaf.

  7. Al says:

    Proud to see the students keeping tradition alive. Keep fighting and the university will back off. Just don’t get violent or riot. Use your brains and numbers to out-play them. Go Buckeyes!

  8. Dukester says:

    Glad to hear this. Truly heartening. Everything is not controlled by mommy statists and life is meant to be lived. This is a great tradition. Go Buckeyes!

  9. Andrew says:

    Props for keeping the spirit of the tradition alive.

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