Today's Update: Tuesday, June 30
June 30, 2020
Dear Student Life Team,
Today is President Drake’s last day as president of The Ohio State University, and I want to use today’s update to honor and thank him for all that he has done for this institution. I especially want to acknowledge his kindness and support for me. He is one of the many reasons that Ohio State has felt like home to me from my very first day.
Dr. Drake’s tenure as president has been filled with major accomplishments. During his time here, he has shepherded the Ohio State Tuition Guarantee, a number of access, affordability and excellence programs as well as implementation of STEP.
The university has seen all-time highs in several important areas during his six years here, including applications, the academic preparedness and diversity of five consecutive incoming classes to the Columbus campus, retention rates, graduation rates, total number of graduates and support from donors. Ohio State’s performance in these categories is the best in the university’s history and among the strongest in the nation.
I will miss working with President Drake, but know that he is leaving us in a Scarlet and Great position to be even stronger in the future.
Also today, I want to make sure you saw the message that I and several of my campus colleagues sent to the entire campus about making our community a safer and more supportive environment. A special thank you goes to our student leaders for their engagement in this process and their passion on behalf of their constituents.
Here is the text of that message ICYMI:
Dear Ohio State Students, Faculty and Staff:
Over the past weeks, our campus community has been engaged in difficult, yet critically important, conversations about the safety, support and respect of our students as they navigate campus and engage in the surrounding City of Columbus. Safety is the hallmark of great universities; therefore, it is always a high priority and has become increasingly important, due to protests about racial injustice in our community.
Students have had encounters with the Columbus Division of Police that do not uphold Ohio State’s expectations for how our students should be treated – and supported – when peacefully protesting. This includes the pepper spraying of student journalists, who appeared, based on a video recording, to be rightfully and lawfully exercising their right to cover an important event in the city. This type of interaction is both disheartening and unacceptable.
Our student government leaders have also shared reports from students, particularly among our Black and Brown students, who say they do not feel safe interacting with officers throughout the city. Ohio State has a strong history as being a resource and viable contributor to the City of Columbus. The concerns of our students are taken seriously, and the university is prepared to be an agent of change to help make the City of Columbus safer for our students and other constituents. We appreciate that Ohio State’s student government leaders encouraged us to re-evaluate the way we work with non-university law enforcement agencies.
Further, as a result of our many discussions, the university has specifically identified some immediate and long-term steps that it can take to advance a more supportive, equitable, and safe environment for all Ohio State community members. To this end, we would like to share the following actions that we are in the process of implementing:
Ohio State’s Department of Public Safety will create a standing Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) composed of Ohio State students, faculty, staff and other critical non-university stakeholders. The committee will consult with all divisions within the Department of Public Safety and will be active by the end of July 2020. Goals of the committee include providing consultation to Public Safety and assisting with the exploration of new programs and continuous improvement initiatives.
PSAC will develop a values statement that will become part of a new training module required by any non-Ohio State law enforcement officers before they can be approved for special duty assignments for Ohio State events.
PSAC will assist in the creation of an Action Plan for Public Safety.
The Ohio State University Police Division (OSUPD) will commit to filling the joint patrol position in 2021, if this program is continued by the Columbus Division of Police and will work with the police union to explore changing this assignment from seniority-based to a selection process. As funding for more OSUPD officers becomes available, Ohio State will work with the City of Columbus to explore expanding the number of OSUPD officers assigned to joint patrol.
Ohio State’s Department of Public Safety has confirmed that there are no plans to acquire military equipment through the 1033 program or otherwise. Any potential participation in a similar transfer or grant program in the future would be reviewed with PSAC to obtain advance input.
Ohio State will advocate for a student appointment to the City of Columbus Civilian Review Board that is being created as a result of the Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commission Report. The university supports continued progress toward adoption of the Commission’s recommendations.
Swift action is important, but sustained change is essential. The aforementioned actions are among the initial steps the university is taking and are part of its broader efforts to create a more inviting community that is safer, more supportive and more secure. In the coming months, the work will continue as the university’s task force on racism and racial disparities further engages the community and identifies additional steps for meaningful change.
Senior Vice President, Office of Administration & Planning
Melissa S. Shivers, PhD
Vice President for Student Life
James L. Moore III, PhD
Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer
EHE Distinguished Professor of Urban Education
Vice President for Government Relations
Director, Department of Public Safety
Chief, The Ohio State University Police Division
Associate Vice President for Local and Community Relations