Home Education OU One of Ohio’s Safest Universities, Despite Fugitive Fest Attention

OU One of Ohio’s Safest Universities, Despite Fugitive Fest Attention

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On Wednesday, Ohio University students experienced something they never have before: the university shut down its academics operations because an armed fugitive was alleged to be on campus.

According to the OU Emergency page, a woman was robbed at gunpoint at about 9:30 a.m. near Station Street Apartments. The suspect – an African-American male, 6’1” in height and wearing a blue hoodie – was sighted shortly after the incident near Stocker Center on West Green. He was allegedly carrying a handgun.

Athens city and OU police began looking for the suspect on campus and a text alert was sent to all students. At 3:30 p.m., university President Roderick McDavis sent an email to students informing them that classes had been cancelled for the rest of the day. Classes resumed Thursday.

“While we had hoped the individual would be apprehended by now, we must act with the safety of the campus community in mind,” the email read. This was the first time McDavis had to cancel classes for non-weather reasons since he took office in 2004.

This was not the first time this type of incident occurred on campus, yet classes have never been cancelled due to police investigations. With countless news hours devoted to the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings and gun control legislation, it is no surprise that the Wednesday incident made national news.

“This being national news is likely because of [recent school shootings],” Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi said. “Society is very sensitive to these types of threats given the current climate and recent shootings that have occurred.”

“Everyone is certainly aware of these shootings, but the decision for Ohio University was made based on the information available to the senior staff on Wednesday,” Lombardi said.

OU is one of the safest schools in Ohio, especially when compared to Ohio State University and other urban universities. OSU reported 28 robbery incidents between 2009 and 2011, compared to OU’s report of three, according to the Office of Postsecondary Education. OU is ranked safer than OSU, the University of Toledo, the University of Akron, Cleveland State University, Youngstown State University, Miami University, the University of Cincinnati and Bowling Green State University on The Daily Beast’s safest school ranking. Kent State University is ranked above OU.

The New Political could not find any other recent incidents of university closings in Ohio due to crime reports.

Lombardi said incidents like this might create more anxiety in a small town.

“We are fortunate at Ohio University to be a part of the Athens community where crimes like this are much more rare than in more metropolitan areas,” Lombardi said. “This is part of why our community is so special.”

After students were notified that classes had been canceled, many of them took to Twitter, where an impromptu “fugitive fest” spread word around the school. Students began trending #gundayfunday and #bluehoodieshuffle. Court Street bars started offering specials, such as five-dollar liquor pitchers, making light of the robbery that resulted in only five dollars being stolen.

Though the university often tries to hush its party school reputation, the national media coverage of the Court Street fugitive fest backfired. The nation again got a glimpse of OU’s party school nature.

Instead of being in class or staying safely indoors, students opted to drink uptown and celebrate their mid-day freedom.

“We will always act in the best interest of the safety and security of our students, regardless of other outcomes that may occur,” Lombardi said of fugitive fest. “I was disappointed that some students and local businesses decided to celebrate someone’s misfortune that day.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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