Campus at night with blue safety lights

Campus Safety

The safety of the campus and the off-campus area frequented by Ohio State students remains the university’s top priority. Ensuring that students, faculty and staff are aware of the multitude of existing and new safety enhancements — and driving them to use them — is a top priority.

In August 2021, the Office of Marketing and Communications (OMC) launched “Stay Safe, Buckeyes,” a framework to support general awareness of our safety resources and the recommendations of the Task Force on Community Safety and Well-Being. The task force shared its findings in November 2020, with recommendations bucketed in three themes: safety awareness and education; enhanced security measures; and outreach and engagement.

Our office worked with the Department of Public Safety and Office of Student Life on a coordinated, sustained communications plan to educate internal and external stakeholders on our proactive measures. These communications strategies continue each year. 

Most recently, the university in autumn 2023 announced plans to significantly expand its crime interdiction program, working with the city to increase evening and nighttime off-campus Columbus police patrols during fall and spring semesters. The expanded police patrols provide additional visibility throughout the University District, and were part of a suite of extensive safety enhancements, including the hiring of more campus police officers.

All recommendations have been enacted and paid immediate dividends. Each new milestone received significant university-wide communications and positive news media coverage, from introducing the Buckeye Block Watch and installing permanent, bright new lighting in the University District to adding surveillance cameras off campus and in all of our parking garages on campus.

We also supported the expansion of the popular Lyft Ride Smart program and played a key role in creating and promoting a new Stay Safe, Buckeyes online safety class to help students and other stakeholders enhance their own safety on and off campus. This class is part of the required introduction-to-Ohio State suite of classes for new students starting this fall semester.

To further highlight its priority, safety enhancements are listed as one of OMC’s Key Issues on its public website.

Social media

Social media played an instrumental role in building safety awareness across audiences. For the 2023-24 academic year, OMC and the Office of Administration and Planning collaborated on an extensive campus safety paid social media campaign. The social media ads target Ohio State students with messaging that educates and increases awareness about safety tips and resources provided by the university. The campaign targets students based on their geographic location and demographics, ensuring the safety ads effectively reach the correct target audience on social with the right messaging at the most opportune time. From Aug. 1, 2023, through Jan. 18, 2024, the campaign garnered 1,265,412 impressions. Along with the paid social campaign, campus safety content is posted organically across the Ohio State University Police Division (OSUPD) social accounts on a regular basis.

OSU Police's social media post about smart plugs
OSU Police social media post about partying smart
OSU Police social media post about Lyft

Joint Patrol Expansion

In fall 2023, the university announced a significant expansion of the crime interdiction program through an Ohio State News Alert. The university worked with the city to increase evening and nighttime off-campus Columbus police patrols during fall and spring semesters.

These expanded police patrols provide additional visibility throughout the University District. Specific patrol locations will be adjusted based on neighborhood needs and other real-time information.

In addition to CPD’s expanded off-campus police patrols, the university authorized OSUPD to hire five additional police officers to create a total force of 75 officers. Two of the positions will support ongoing CPD and OSUPD joint patrols in the University District, and the city has committed resources for these additional joint patrols. These officers are in addition to the nine hired since January 2022 to increase patrols on and off campus.

Mobile screenshot of the campus safety map

Community Crime Map

In spring 2022, our office invested heavily in publicizing the Community Crime Map, which features off-campus crime reports via statistics from the Columbus Division of Police. Use of a customized version of this map was recommended by an external safety expert’s review in February 2022 of the university’s off-campus safety efforts. This tool was based on feedback from students who desired a comprehensive, visual overview of crime in the area. It replaced the safety notices that were sent for various crimes but contained limited information.

How we actively communicated

  • Regular Ohio State News Alerts featuring safety and well-being resources
  • Aggressive and proactive media relations on incorrect or misleading claims about the university’s safety offerings and agenda
  • Regular meetings to discuss current and future communications opportunities between OMC, the Department of Public Safety and Student Life
  • Strategic, paid social media campaigns around key events like the start of each semester, major football games or in response to crime trends