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 OPEEP Student Resources page, which provides students with a comprehensive guide to help walk them through the OPEEP application process. The first step is to complete this online application (application for Autumn 2022 coming soon!). After completing the application, students will be contacted by OPEEP faculty or staff to schedule a brief meeting to discuss their interest in the course and important details about enrollment. Students must receive Instructor Permission to enroll in any OPEEP course, and this must be shared (usually via e-mail) with the student's academic advisor who will then manually enroll them in the course. Further details about the application process (including a detailed timeline, links to important files and resources, and more!) can be found on the 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 complete the ODRC volunteer application and attend training offered at the correctional facility (the same process for any volunteer who works inside the prison). Incarcerated students are screened by correctional staff, and instructors conduct in-person interviews with all students who wish to enroll in an OPEEP class. OSU has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC), signed by the Warden at the prison where each class is offered. The MOU outlines all safety requirements and the responsibilities of OSU and ODRC to ensure students’ well-being.

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. We believe that offering OPEEP courses without credit for 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. Current OSU classes are offered at The Ohio Reformatory for Women (ORW), Southeastern Correctional Institution (SCI), and Richland Correctional Institution (RiCI), all of which are between 45-60 minutes from the Columbus and Newark campuses. Instructors help students to coordinate carpools to the prison each week so that transportation is not an impediment to enrollment. Each instructor has their own syllabus with course requirements for readings and assignments.

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 their justice involvement to campus students.