Mirror Lake Jump 2013 promises new difficulties

⌫ Home

The annual Mirror Lake jump has been a wet, rowdy, alcoholic and cold celebration of Buckeye spirit. Students and alumni alike striped down to bathing suits in cold water and near-freezing air, while police and university officials looked on. This year's policy changes that.

As The Lantern reported Sunday, the Ohio State University Office of Student Life has decided to require wristbands for access to the Mirror Lake jump.

The limitations on this year's jump so far:

  • One entrance creates a bottleneck for jumpers and watchers in sub-freezing weather, increasing risk of injury
  • "Students who are incapacitated and unable to care for themselves may not be granted entry", creating a pool of dissatisfied drunk students
  • No boats, canoes, "other inflatable and non-personal flotation devices," poles (such as might be used for signs), squirt guns, super soakers, pocket knives or mace, even for non-jumping spectators
  • Spectators must have a wristband
  • Wristbands are only available to students with a valid student ID
  • Wristbands must be picked up from the Ohio Union during business hours

That restrictions apply to jumpers and non-jumpers alike is to probably to simplify logistics, but I wonder how the university will enforce the bans. Will they search students at the checkpoint?

The restriction on canoes is probably a direct reaction to the actions of Jeff Michael and Tyler Stauch, who in 2012 brought a canoe to Mirror Lake:

“We’re all about Buckeye Nation and the tradition,” said Stauch, a business major, standing next to his canoe, which had a sail emblazoned with a Block ‘O’ and the word “tradition.”

“They explicitly said in their email that this isn’t an OSU tradition,” said Michael, an accounting major. “We wanted to make sure they knew this was a tradition.”

Photo credit Ben Keith/The Lantern. Used with permission of The Lantern.

Further complicating Tuesday's jump, the annual Beat Michigan Pep Rally will be held on the South Oval at the same time as the jump, no doubt limiting access to the one entrance to the Mirror Lake jump area. The Rally will feature inflatables, a DJ, food (for students with wristbands) and diverse other entertainments. It will likely serve as a stumbling-block for revelers entering the area, especially if they are already stumbling.

Adam Buente, a third-year law student at the Moritz College of Law, wrote an excellent letter to The Lantern about the Mirror Lake jump restrictions:

[The] single entrance policy will create very dangerous conditions that are not currently present. What makes the Mirror Lake jump function is its anarchy. Students from all different parts of campus descend from different angles and at different times, meaning that not too many students gather at any single spot at any one time.

But now, everyone will be forced to a single-entrance at the South Oval. This will expose students to the cold conditions for a longer period of time, and as a result, will almost certainly create a lot of tension, impatience, and maybe even a stampede.

Buente's prediction is scary, but I have no doubt that drunk students spurned at the entry checkpoint will mob the fence. Temporary fences are no obstacle to a crowd of determined, intoxicated, frozen students.