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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about OPEEP:

1. I'm an OSU student who is interested in taking an OPEEP class. Where do I start?

Keep up to date on upcoming course offerings by visiting the Courses page of our website and following us on social media (@OPEEP_OSU). Next, head to the Student Resources page, which includes a guide and various resources to help walk students through the OPEEP application process. Step 1 is completing the online OPEEP application. After the application is submitted, OPEEP faculty or staff will then reach out to schedule a brief meeting to discuss the student's interest and other important enrollment details. After this initial meeting, instructors may then grant the student with official permission to enroll in the course, which must then also be shared with their academic advisor in order to complete enrollment. More details and helpful resources can also be found on our Student Resources page.

2. How safe is it to teach or take a class in prison?

Teaching and taking a class in prison is quite safe. Both correctional and university administrators work to ensure faculty and student safety and would not approve a class if they thought there was a significant safety concern. All campus participants (instructors and students) are required to 1) complete the required ODRC Volunteer Background Check paperwork 2) successfully pass a background check, and 3) attend training at the correctional facility (the same process for any volunteer working inside the prison). Incarcerated students are screened by correctional staff and OPEEP instructors/staff, who conduct in-person interviews with all students seeking enrollment in the course. OSU also has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC), signed by the Warden of the prison facility in which the course is being offered. All safety requirements and responsibilities of OSU and ODRC to ensure students’ well-being are specifically outlined in the MOU.

2. Do incarcerated students receive college credit for the class?

Yes, at The Ohio State University, all incarcerated students receive college credit. Incarcerated students have the same course requirements as campus students. Given that campus-based/"outside" students would still receive credit for completing the exact same work, we believe that offering OPEEP courses without also offering credit to incarcerated students is exploitative.

3. Can I teach or enroll in an OPEEP class if I have a record of arrest, conviction, incarceration, pre-trial jail time, or if I have been a victim of crime?

Yes. Both instructors and campus students have been able to participate, even if they have a justice-involved background. The ODRC Volunteer Application requires all campus participants grant permission for a full background check, answer specific criminal justice history questions, and disclose any relationships or “nexus” to people who are incarcerated or on parole in the state of Ohio. This system also is in place to protect victims of crime, so they can avoid any exposure through the OPEEP course to people imprisoned for those offenses.

4. Why should I teach or take a class in prison? 

The OPEEP class experience is like none other. Collaborative learning and teaching across different academic disciplines, with people we may not normally encounter in traditional OSU classes and in the context of a prison, has profound impacts on all those involved. Watch this brief video to learn more about the OPEEP experience from the perspectives of alumni and instructors.

5. What is the time commitment for an OPEEP class?

Three credit classes meet in a classroom space at each prison once a week for approximately three hours. Instructors help students to coordinate carpools to the prison each week so that transportation is not an impediment to enrollment. Requirements for readings and assignments vary by course/instructor and can typically be found in the course syllabus.

6. Will there be any contact between incarcerated and campus students, outside of the class meeting time each week?

No. OPEEP is premised on semi-anonymity (first names only). Each student enrolled in the course is required to sign a document agreeing that they will not attempt to learn more personal information and/or contact each other while in the course. Students are not allowed to be in touch after the semester ends.

7. What is the dress code for going into the prison?

The dress code follows the ODRC visitation guidelines. Each instructor will give students additional information about the dress code. Expect to dress modestly and professionally.

8. What types of crimes have incarcerated students committed?

Incarcerated students are convicted and incarcerated for an array of felony crimes. We do not disallow an incarcerated students’ participation based on their type of offense. Incarcerated students are not required to disclose the nature of their justice involvement to campus students, and campus students may never ask incarcerated students about their history or attempt to find this information on their own.