Ohio State Remembers Student Chase Meola Murdered Near Campus

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It's been one year since Ohio State student Chase Meola was shot and killed near the school's campus. Leaders with Buckeyes for a Safe Ohio State said that it’s also been a full year of the university failing students by not stepping up to protect them. The group is aimed at raising awareness about student safety, and they aren’t happy with how Ohio State has been doing with this task.

“The students are scared and they love this school, I love this school, we just want our school to be safe. It’s a basic need that these kids deserve every single day of their life,” Allyson Reid, one of the founders of the group said.

Hundreds of students and parents marched in an off-campus housing area Sunday night to try and shed light on areas of the University District that they say are too dark. They walked, raising their phones and flashlights to show how dark the route was, all while remembering Chase. Dark areas at night can provide a place for more dangerous activity to happen without being seen. The group held their march at the corner of East 15th Avenue and High Street at 7:30p.m. The group marching there made it a goal to remember Chase Meola as his death was a night that changed the college experience for many people. They said that even though it’s too late for Chase, they hope to prevent other students from going through the same thing.

Chase Meola was shot and killed on October 11, 2020 after uninvited people showed up at a house party and started an argument. They allegedly were mad that they weren’t allowed into the party since nobody knew who they were. Kintie Mitchell Jr. was the suspect in the shooting, and he was later charged with Meola’s death.

“We need more resources, we need them to do the things that they say they’re going to do and they need to do it with a sense of urgency,” Amy Rudawski, a parent of an Ohio State student said.

“As a police officer, a law enforcement officer in Massachusetts, I was kind of appalled by the amount of crime just outside of campus,” Michael Sonia, another parent of an Ohio State student said. “When [my daughter’s] dorm is in that section, and you see everything that’s going by right outside her dorm, it doesn’t make parents feel very comfortable about sending their kids to the university.”

Chase’s mother Margaret told the group how hard the past year has been for her. She hasn’t been on campus since his murder, so the group wanted to represent her and her family during their march. Margaret told them that every crime that goes on on campus triggers the memory of her son’s death. The safety notifications that go out remind her of that night a year ago, and she doesn’t want anyone else to have to experience what she went through.

Since the beginning of the 2021-2022 semester, Ohio State University has reportedly enhanced security measures by increasing police patrols, and adding more mobile lighting units, security cameras, and personal safety devices. OSU president Kristina Johnson announced that the safety plan has helped bring the crime percentage in the off-campus area down by 84%.

A daily crime log is available for OSU, and there are many crimes that happen all over the area. 2020 had a lower crime rate due to the amount of remote learning going on, but that doesn’t mean that the crimes ceased. During student orientation, student’s are required to watch a video discussing how to survive an active shooter. The university’s Department of Public Safety also offers other safety resources for students to access. According to the 2020 crime reports, crime did decrease significantly in many categories. For example, burglary reportedly went from 71 to 36, and stalking went from 91 to 57. However, campus fondling went from 43 to 59. Sexual assault education resources are said to be a main priority for the school going forward.

Jay Kasey, senior vice president of administration and planning, said that the safety task force at the school has recommendations following three themes: safety awareness and education, enhanced security measures, and outreach and engagement efforts. They want to mainly focus on the off-campus areas where students live. The University District includes about 700 landlords, 650 businesses, and around 18,000 students. Adding surveillance cameras around these off-campus areas was the main recommendation for trying to decrease crime. They also wanted joint-patrolling of police officers going on 24 hours a day in high-crime spots.

Parents of Ohio State students raised nearly $20,000 on a GoFundMe page to buy a two-panel billboard to put up near the campus. One side reads “college should not be a crime scene” while the other side reads “one is one too many” with a picture of Chase Meola. His mother is the one who led the billboard campaign. While the university said that it’s put money into installing more lights around campus, parents are saying that the light installations still haven’t happened. The University district is said to still be incredibly dark, and people want the university to do more to contribute to a safer environment.

“It seems like every other day, or every couple days, there’s another email saying there’s a violent crime on campus, so it’s definitely very concerning,” Nate Rudawski, an OSU freshman said.

While the college has stated that it’s doing a lot to provide a safe learning environment, and certain crime rates have been shown to decrease, parents and students are still uneasy with the safety of the campus. It seems like adding in more lights to dark areas like the spot where the march was held would help comfort parents and students. Even after the campus does more to help with the crime situation, what happened with Chase Meola can’t be forgotten. Students say that they will continue to remember him for being a bright person, and his story inspires many to strive for pushing the university to do more to help stop crime that goes on on-campus and in off-campus areas.

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