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Editorial | Keeping off-campus sidewalks safe should be made a priority

By Editorial Board
On February 10, 2014

The struggle is real for off-campus students attempting to walk to class, or anywhere for that matter. As the snow and ice pile up on Oxford's 61 miles of sidewalks without much attempt by landowners, the city or residents to shovel them, students have ditched the hazardous walkways for the cleared streets.

For drivers, it is frustrating and dangerous to dodge and weave around students on off-campus residential roads, but it is even more aggravating for students to have to choose between trudging through a foot of snow or walking in the road at the risk of being hit by a driver who may not be paying complete attention.

Just as the university has a duty to keep its sidewalks clear on campus in order for students to successfully navigate to their destinations, landlords, residents and the City of Oxford should have a duty to keep sidewalks clean so students and residents can safely use them.

In an "urgent request to residents and property owners," by the City of Oxford on Feb. 5, they requested help from residents and property owners in keeping residential sidewalks clear of ice and snow. If our landlords mow our lawns and fix the outside of our homes, most of us have probably been under the assumption that they will be taking care of the snow as well. But, regardless of whose job it is, the stretches of icy sidewalk indicate it simply isn't getting done.

According to city ordinances, residents and property owners have to keep the sidewalks in front of their homes clean. Even though failing to do so is technically a misdemeanor, it's difficult for Oxford to enforce this ordinance or hand out fines due to recent Supreme Court rulings that say a citizen can't be fined for natural events outside their control, such as the weather.

The Miami Student Editorial Board believes it is time for Oxford's residents-which includes us students-to take responsibility for ensuring sidewalks are made safe for those who are living off-campus, and not kept as an ambiguous gray area.

We are calling on students to be active citizens of this community. We must all begin by calling our property managers to determine once and for all who is responsible for clearing the sidewalks, and then make sure it gets done. We also call on students to go beyond their mere responsibilities at times and just help each other out. As long as we are complacent and continue to do nothing, we're all going to have to live with these sidewalks and the perils that come with them. If it is a landowner's job to keep the sidewalks clean, then that conversation is only going to take place if students take it into their own hands.

For now, crowds of students will be walking in the roads until we take action. The Board hopes students will make the decision to reach out to the city and to landowners in an attempt to take care of this issue.

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