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Walking on thin ice: students seen on frozen Theta Pond, despite safety concerns

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Students are urged to stay off of Theta Pond as some areas of the ice may be thin and dangerous to walk or skate on.

Students were seen walking, running, and even skating on Theta Pond this week as Stillwater experienced a historic winter storm.

Temperatures in Oklahoma were colder than they have been in 100 years, but that does not take away the danger of walking on possibly unstable ice. 

OSUPD Captain Colt Chandler said that it would take weeks of frozen weather for the pond to be thick enough for these types of activities to be done safely. 

“You do not want to see someone drown, injure themselves, or suffer hypothermia,” Chandler said.

Chandler says that there is an uncertain amount of risk involved due to not knowing officially how this the ice is, and various other factors that play into the role of safety in an event like this.

There are other things that emergency responders have to help with in weather like this, so something that could be prevented completely, such as walking on Theta Pond, needs to be avoided so the emergency responders can help people with things that cannot be as easily avoided. 

OSU posted signs right after students were seen doing this around the pond.  ‘Danger thin ice,’ the warning sign read, ‘STAY OFF POND.’

Students ignored the warning and continued standing, running and skating on the pond anyways. Owners played fetch with their dog and young couples took strolls from one side to the other. 

OSU Campus Safety put out a safety alert notifying students that “attempting to walk or skate on the pond was not allowed,” saying that the was not thick enough to be considered safe. 

Ice is not considered safe for human activity until it is four inches thick. It is unclear how thin the ice on Theta Pond grew to be, but with this type of weather being relatively uncommon, the school decided not to take chances.

Alumni and parents alike were in the comments of an official OSU Facebook post regarding the issue. Many stated that the sign and warning should not be needed, that not walking on ice should be common sense. However, the dozens of students who now have photos showing themselves walking on water and disregarding the warnings show the need for the signs and notifications.