While students hoping to take the plunge into Mirror Lake’s icy November waters will have the chance next week, they’ll need a wristband for admittance for the second straight year. And though Undergraduate Student Government advocated for that requirement, some students aren’t sold on it.
The Mirror Lake area will be fenced off and access to the campus landmark for the jump will be available through two primary entry points to those with wristbands, which will be available to currently enrolled students, according to an Ohio State Department of Public Safety post about the jump.
“These were identified as priorities during discussions with Undergraduate Student Government and are designed to prevent non-affiliates from gaining entrance and aid in line management, getting as many students through as efficiently and safely as possible,” the post said.
Jumping in Mirror Lake before the OSU football game against the University of Michigan is a university tradition. This year’s jump is set to occur Nov. 25, and as of Sunday evening, about 3,200 people had responded to a Facebook event saying they plan to attend.
Students who only want to watch will need wristbands as well. And anyone who is “incapacitated and (is) unable to care for themselves” might not be granted entry, the Department of Public Safety post said.
“Staff members and safety personnel maintain the right to deny entry or to remove anyone at any time to enhance the safety of others,” the post said.
According to a weekly OnCampus email, students who jump “do so at their own risk” and OSU does not encourage jumping.
The 2013 jump created controversy when it was announced fences would be erected surrounding the lake for safety purposes. Students attending the jump were also required to wear a wristband to enter.
Some people protested the efforts and took to social media to plan a separate jump the night before the actual one was supposed to happen. About 1,500 people followed through and knocked down the fences to enter the lake on the Monday night before the scheduled jump.
The next night, approximately 10,000 to 12,000 people participated in the scheduled Mirror Lake jump.
Still, wristbands didn’t seem to be checked closely and some people jumped without them.
Even so, USG advocated for the fences and wristbands this year in a resolution it passed after several town hall-type forums with officials and students on the matter earlier this semester. The resolution was then presented to university officials including University Police Chief Paul Denton and OSU President Michael Drake, USG President Celia Wright said.
“We in student government recognize the value of fences. It seems like a necessary inconvenience for us but one that if we are going to try to preserve the safety of high schoolers that might otherwise be tempted to come — or students from anyone who might come who isn’t part of the community that might make it more dangerous — we see the value in the fences,” Wright, a fourth-year in public health, said.
Although she said the fences and wristbands are a productive idea, she added that they were probably received with anger by students because of the lack of communication between OSU and students last year.
“I think part of that (students’ anger) was the erection of a fence — and seeing that put a little bit of a damper on the spontaneity of the event and what makes it so fun — but not accompanying the presence of those fences and wristbands with a very clear explanation that it was meant to keep high schoolers from coming or alumni or people from around the community who aren’t actually affiliated with Ohio State from jumping,” she said. “I think most students would have recognized the need for that and would have been more supportive had they realized it.”
While this year’s announcement about fences and wristbands came more than a week before the scheduled jump, last year’s announcement was two days before the jump was set to occur.
Wright said the USG resolution also advocated for more entry points, as well as the use of student volunteers.
“I know that a lot of students at Ohio State enjoy the spectacle of the Mirror Lake jump but don’t necessarily want to get their feet wet and we’d love to give them a chance to be a part of the tradition in a different way with standing around the lake or maybe even different places around campus to make sure people are getting home safe,” she said.
Even though Wright said there is nothing she would change about this year’s protocol, she said she encourages students to celebrate the tradition after the jump and to not job while intoxicated.
Meanwhile, some students said they see the university’s protocols as a sound idea, but others disagree.
“I think it’s kind of stupid because last year it was still a mess. I feel like it (the fences and wristbands) made it worse because people jumped in on Monday and Tuesday because they did this, so why would they do this again?” said Laura Cardi, a third-year in strategic communication.
Cardi — who jumped both Monday and Tuesday last year and plans to jump again this year — said she doesn’t foresee another “Mirror Lake Monday” jump again this year.
“I feel like everyone could do it last year and there was no real restraint, so maybe it’s not as much of a motivation to go early,” she said.
Others like Scott Havard, a second-year in exploration who didn’t jump last year but plans to this year, said he thinks OSU’s safety protocols might be a good idea.
“Safety-wise, I think it’s kind of smart just because it’s gonna be below freezing temperatures and, you know, people can get hurt,” he said. “(OSU has) got to take precautions just for that.”
Administration and Planning spokesman Dan Hedman referred The Lantern to the Department of Public Safety’s post Sunday morning when asked for comment.
He did not immediately respond to an email Sunday afternoon asking how much the fences and wristbands are set to cost.
Wristbands are set to be available to current students from Friday through Nov. 25 at the Ohio Union and the RPAC Welcome Center.