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OSU To Roll Out New Student Safety Plan

Ohio State University President Gordon Gee will announce a comprehensive safety plan for students this week. The recommendations follow six robberies in and around campus in the past month-and-a-half. It was a cold and blustery afternoon as Ohio State students hurried across High Street near the Ohio Union. The students were not far, in some cases just blocks, from recent robberies, some of which involved hand guns. One student had a gun held to his head while suspects forcibly took valuables. Most of these incidents have taken place late at night or in the early morning hours. First told to walk in pairs, students now have been advised to stay in groups after a pair of students was robbed. Senior Kyle Cox is a geology major. Despite the robberies, Cox said he has not taken extra precautions, even at night. "It might just be because I've been here for so long and nothing has happened to me. And so it might be a false sense of security," Cox said. But some students are nervous about walking around by themselves. 21-year-old Courtney Kessler is a transfer student who starts classes in January. Kessler already lives In the north campus area and is aware of the recent crimes. "I make sure that I walk with somebody at all times because I'm a female and young and lately on the news it's been crazy. I don't really go outside because I'm afraid of it," she said. Senior Alexis Cantu and Junior Lindsey Cullums walked together on campus. Cantu and Cullums said they have not changed their habits because of the robberies - they said they feel safe since the crimes have not happened in their neighborhood. And neither woman is sure what university administrators could do to ensure student safety or curb the crime problem. "I think that the problem is way more deeply ingrained than anything they can take care of in two weeks. I think it's systemic. I don' t know I think there are larger problems at work that are causing the problem," Cantu said. "Yeah, I think the root is poverty," Cullums said. "Unless they're planning on solving poverty in the city of Columbus, I don't think it's going to make a big difference." Freshman Nathan Miller is a business major who also wonders what more can be done that's not already in the works to keep students safe. "I see a large police presence on campus most of the time. Like even I see at night there's usually like a police officer almost on every block. So you can't prevent everything," Miller said. While there have been about a half dozen crime alerts in the past six weeks - several involving hand guns - Columbus Police Sergeant Rich Weiner said the number of robberies in the area where the recent crimes have taken place are no higher than they were last year. Actually, Weiner said, the numbers are flat. "With the enhancement of technology and media resources and outlets, there's a lot of information that is available to people now a days that wasn't available five years ago or even last year. So yeah, with these crime alerts, we're not saying that they're not being used effectively, we believe that the more information students have the more prepared they are to handle an encounter and the more prepared they are to prevent an encounter," he said. As of last week, Columbus Police had made some strides in the robberies. A teenage girl was charged with receiving stolen property after the car she was riding in was pulled over by police. The teen was carrying a stolen debit card. "We will be comparing forensic evidence collected at some of these other robbery scenes," Weiner said. "We will look to see if it matches any of these individuals that were detained." All five people in the car were taken into custody and a robbery victim was called to a line-up but was unable to identify any of them. All but the female teenager were released.