Ohio State challenges students to make campus safe during the pandemic

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Students at Ohio State University are pitching ideas to keep the those returning to campus safe and healthy during the pandemic though a new innovation challenge, the university announced Thursday.

The Safe and Healthy Campus Innovation Challenge is giving students, faculty and staff the opportunity to come up with and share innovative ideas to promote health and safety practices, like physical distancing on and off campus, wearing face masks and mental health care.

“It’s all about democratizing innovation,” Tim Raderstorf, chief innovation officer for OSU’s college of nursing said in a press release. “It’s based off of the belief that administrators and leaders are not usually the best people to solve the problem. The best people to solve problems are the people who experience them firsthand. There’s no better group for us to be reaching out to than students because they know the problems intimately and know what solutions may be feasible for them.”

To help the university address challenges related to the pandemic, students are asked to pitch issues and solutions in three key areas: physical distancing in areas like student housing, bars and restaurants; wearing of face masks or face coverings; and mental health and well-being.

Each idea is to be submitted through a short explainer video, and to promote participation, the university is offering students a cash incentive for coming up with the best ideas.

First-place teams for each of three key areas will receive $1,000 and the second-place teams will receive $500, according to the university.

“We’re not asking everyone to come to us with a life-altering, game-changing idea. What we’re asking for is the best idea that you have right now,” Raderstorf said. “We’re going to try everything within our power to help your ideas rise to the top.”

The challenge begins Aug. 24 and submissions are due Sept. 7. Winners will be announced at the end of September and a second challenge session is scheduled to begin in October.

“Our Buckeye family remains committed to come through this pandemic stronger and better,” Shivers said. “We can do something meaningful and impactful Together As Buckeyes, and we need the ingenuity and spirit of our students to help us do it,” Melissa Shivers, vice president for student life, said in the announcement.

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