New academic year – important updates and reminders

The start of the 2022-23 academic year is just days away. Whether you are a returning Buckeye or new to our campuses, Ohio State is your community – one dedicated to creating positive impacts in the world through teaching, learning, research and service.

You will receive a number of communications from the university in the coming days and weeks with more details about these and other items. Below are a few important updates and reminders to help ensure a successful start to the semester, including:

  • Civil discourse
  • Community safety
  • Mental health and well-being
  • Public health resources (COVID-19 and monkeypox)
  • Drug and alcohol misuse prevention education
  • Buckeye business reminders for students

Please take a moment to review the below. As a reminder, the first day of classes is Tuesday, August 23. Other important dates are available on the academic calendar.

Go Buckeyes!

Civil discourse

Public universities like ours play a vital role in facilitating discussion – no matter how difficult the subjects might be or how passionately we may disagree. Ohio State is committed to establishing and advancing shared dialogues, and the university has a number of resources available to help facilitate civil discourse. These include:

On August 29, the inaugural Education for Citizenship address will welcome new Ohio State students and the university community to the academic year and ask all to reflect on the importance of civil discourse and our Shared Values in a diverse world. The address will be delivered by Dr. Winston Thompson, associate professor in the College of Education and Human Ecology and coordinator of COMPAS: Conversations on Morality, Politics and Society in the Center for Ethics and Human Values. The event is at 7 pm in Mershon Auditorium. Tickets are recommended and are available for free.

Community safety

The safety of the Ohio State community is the university’s top priority. Ohio State works 24/7 to enhance safety on our campuses, and you can help by taking individual and collective action to promote a safer community. We offer a variety of resources, including:

  • Lyft Ride Smart provides students with discounted rides on and off campus, including to the Short North area during evening and overnight hours.
  • The Community Crime Map allows all members of our community to view updated, off-campus crime statistics from the Columbus Division of Police (CPD) in a visual format. When visiting the map, you can sign up for and customize email alerts.
  • Free-to-use tools, including portable personal safety devices. These emit a piercing, loud noise and light up when activated, bringing immediate attention to the user. Additional free resources include door and window alarms for off-campus homes.
  • The online Stay Safe, Buckeyes class offers scenario-based exercises and engaging videos. The one-hour class module is available in BuckeyeLearn and covers topics such as crime prevention tips, reporting crimes, self-defense, mental health and more.

Additionally, the university has brought back and expanded its joint patrol program to include three Ohio State University Police Division officers patrolling the University District while paired up with CPD officers. This program is part of a comprehensive approach that includes improved lighting, additional surveillance cameras and license plate readers, and non-police security that patrol seven nights a week to bring university resources into the areas where many students live. See full resources on the Department of Public Safety website.

Mental health and well-being

Ohio State is committed to a culture of care and well-being for students, faculty and staff.

The Office of Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service provides culturally sensitive individual and group mental health services, workshops and outreach programming to undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Additionally, the Wellness section at the bottom of the Ohio State app serves as an on-the-go tool to support student mental health and well-being on campus. Ohio State’s Employee Assistance Program recently introduced an enhanced member portal, online tools, well-being resources and work-life services available to eligible employees, their dependents, household members, parents and parents-in-law.

In the coming days, the Office of Student Life will launch a peer-to-peer campaign that includes educational programs, as well as a central online hub for all mental health resources that the university offers based on distress level. These enhancements come out of the continuing implementation work of the university’s Commission on Student Mental Health and Well-Being.

Public health resources (COVID-19 and monkeypox)

For guidance related to public health, the university maintains and updates the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website. Students recently received a message related to various resources.

Below is information about COVID-19 for members of the Ohio State community:

  • Students, faculty, staff and visitors should monitor guidance issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as state and local authorities to inform their personal health practices.
  • The university’s vaccination requirement remains in place: All students, faculty and staff must either complete a full primary series or receive an approved exemption.
  • Everyone is encouraged to take advantage of COVID-19 booster shots for which they are eligible. Students, faculty and staff can voluntarily report boosters to help guide the university’s response through the university’s COVID-19 reporting forms.
  • People can choose to wear a mask at Ohio State at any time. The university’s mask-optional policy remains in place on our academic campuses, including classroom buildings and the Ohio Union. Masks are required in clinical health-care settings, child-care centers and COVID-19 testing locations.
  • Anyone feeling sick should stay home and monitor symptoms. We are encouraging everyone to have at-home tests on hand. Tests can be picked up at campus locations. Testing is also available on the Columbus campus and for symptomatic individuals.
  • Similar to last year, on-campus isolation housing for residential students will be limited and cannot be guaranteed. All students should have individual plans for isolation and quarantine housing in the event they are exposed or have a positive COVID-19 test.

Monkeypox is a viral disease that is circulating worldwide and in Ohio. Monkeypox primarily spreads through close, personal contact between people, including sex and other activities that include skin-to-skin contact. It also can be spread by respiratory secretions during kissing and other prolonged, face-to-face contact, or through indirect contact (such as towels that have been used by someone with monkeypox).

All members of the university community are encouraged to learn about symptoms, how to protect yourself and what to do if you are exposed to monkeypox from the CDC and other health authorities. See the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website for additional information.

Drug and alcohol misuse prevention education

Ohio State is instituting a new educational requirement for all first-year and transfer undergraduate students targeting drug, tobacco and alcohol misuse.

The program will be used on all Ohio State campuses beginning this semester, and students can access the modules through BuckeyeLearn. While incoming and transfer undergraduate students must complete the educational modules this fall to register for classes in the spring semester, all students, faculty and staff are encouraged to complete the class.

Buckeye business reminders for students

Buckeye Link can help you take care of Buckeye business, including how to verify your course schedule and important dates and deadlines about financial aid, fee payment as well as adding and dropping courses. Please read all important email reminders and go to buckeyelink.osu.edu for updates, how-tos, and to log in to My Buckeye Link to complete To-Do List items.

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