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In wake of National Championship win, campus life, classes carry on

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Ohio State fans welcome the Buckeyes back to Columbus Jan. 14.  Credit: Jon McAllister / Asst. photo editor

Ohio State fans welcome the Buckeyes back to Columbus Jan. 14. Credit: Jon McAllister / Asst. photo editor

After Ohio State won the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night, for the most part, classes went on as normal Tuesday morning.

“People need to remember that most of us did come to play school,” said Becca Freeman, a second-year in psychology and pre-dentistry, talking about celebrations on High Street after the Oregon game that were broken up by police.

“I was actually surprised by how many people showed up to my 8 a.m.,” Freeman said. “It was only half-full, but organic chemistry wasn’t probably the first choice of students who had just watched Ohio State win the national title.”

Others students, like Kevin Branco, a second-year in strategic communication, also saw their early classes filled with students.

“For my 8 a.m., there were a surprising number of students, I would say almost all the students were there,” Branco said. “It didn’t seem like the game had a huge effect on class attendance. I was surprised.”

Branco said he thinks the number of students in his morning class was a testament to OSU’s dedication to academics, as well as to its support of the Buckeyes.

“Even though we definitely value football and value competition, we’re still able to put academics first and really emphasize success in the classroom here at Ohio State,” Branco said.

The National Championship game fell on the first day of Spring Semester, which meant many students who planned on attending the game in Arlington, Texas, missed at least the first day of classes.

According to University Faculty Rules, students who miss classes during the first week could be disenrolled from those courses and their seat could be given to another student on the waitlist. In a Jan. 6 email to students, Wayne Carlson, OSU’s vice provost for undergraduate studies and dean of undergraduate education, said faculty members are not required to make attendance accommodations for the game.

But some students chose not to go to class on the morning after the game, whether or not professors had made accommodations or compromises.

Evan Salyers, a second-year in civil engineering who decided not to go to his 8 a.m. class, said skipping his class was a “victory gift to myself.”

“I figured we wouldn’t go over anything vitally important and I could afford to miss it,” he said.

The final play of the title game came at about midnight, meaning many students were awake later than that.

Shortly after the game ended, students crowded campus — including Mirror Lake and High Street, particularly in front of the Ohio Union — cheering about the 42-20 victory over Oregon.

“After the game, I walked outside and it was crazy,” Branco said. “It was this surreal feeling. Everyone was jumping up and down, dancing to ‘Seven Nation Army.’”

Around campus, Columbus Division of Police and a SWAT team were wearing gas masks and stood by to keep order as students and fans rushed through the street. Tear gas was deployed during the post-game celebration.

“Despite the law enforcement involvement, it was still a really cool moment,” Branco said. “It felt like people really got to embrace the moment and nobody got hurt.”

Some students, however, did get hurt by the tear gas and pepper spray that law enforcement used on the crowd.

“Students were choking on tear gas,” Freeman said. “There’s really no need for tear gassing people who weren’t doing anything unlawful.”

Freeman was an indirect victim of the pepper spray because she was in the vicinity of it on the way home.

“I got pepper-sprayed, but not because I was doing anything but because I was passing by,” Freeman said. “The wind carried some of the pepper spray from the police spraying the crowd and got in my eyes and face.”

Some students said they could understand why the police used their method of enforcement, seeing it as their way of keeping a standard of safety on the road.

“I understand that (the police) had to keep order, and (the students) were blocking the road, from what I gather, and that’s kind of bad,” said Matt Heard, a member of the OSU Marching Band and a second-year in neuroscience, who was in Texas for the game when the events unfolded. “But I think tear gas is a little over the top.”

Branco said there might have been other issues, too.

“There was almost a potential safety hazard of a car maybe speeding through the area,” Branco said. “The use of tear gas was justified, but it was definitely disconcerting to see.”

Other students found the force used by the police an unnecessary response to the situation, like Freeman, who said she thought the police “used excessive force because there was no fighting.”

Despite the police’s reaction to the students, some still expected the night to be a big celebration after the victory.

“When a bunch of college kids get really excited, of course bad decisions are going to be made,” Salyers said. “I’m not surprised or appalled, but stuff happens.”

Marching band member Alex Scarmuzzi, a first-year in mechanical engineering, said the Buckeyes who were in Dallas for the game celebrated, but not on the same level as those around campus.

“The Bucks fans were definitely crazy excited, but after the game, everyone dispersed back to their hotels,” Scarmuzzi said. “There were a few parties around, but they weren’t as crazy.”

Heard said the aftermath of Tuesday morning’s celebrations was not exactly as he had pictured.

“I suppose my biggest expectation was to come back to Columbus and see it on fire, no classes on Tuesday, and things would be destroyed, but they weren’t,” Heard said.

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