The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
In her article last week, assistant editor Ceili Doyle detailed the challenges that the Oxford Fire Department is facing as they are answering the needs of the community with limited resources. From Aug. 1 through Oct. 1, OFD saw 426 EMS calls, compared to 355 over the same time period last year. Over one third of these calls were in response to people aged 18 to 24.
But with a budget that nearly matches the department's overall annual income of about $2 million (mostly coming from the city), OFD and Oxford will be in trouble if calls begin to grow even more.
These facts demonstrate that there is something that must be done before the services that are necessary for aiding those during a time of emergency hit a breaking point. And because this is an issue that demonstrably affects students and the university, we must consider the question of generating more funding for emergency services from the university.
With this question in mind, we are calling for a public forum on the issue of OFD funding to be held, open to officials, Oxford residents and Miami students and parents. With OFD spending so many of their resources on helping students, it is imperative that the student body give some input as to how the cost of these resources is diffused over city and school.
It is easy to think that because OFD's services have always been available to students in need, they are simply a part of the college town experience. But the truth is that each run that the first-responders make puts a strain on the amount of other people that they can help, including Oxford residents. With many responses to students stemming from their alcohol and drugs use, it would be irresponsible to not at least bring up the question of how OFD gets funded in an open and productive setting at Miami.
Now this, undoubtedly, is a complicated topic that has many more facets than simply the numbers we have provided. Issues abound, including the number of workers that OFD has and how long they work, the amount of money from Miami that goes to OFD, what contracts are in place for that money, what type of tax the city uses to fund the department and even whether or not Miami should have its own emergency services. In short, the above figures are only the beginning of an issue.
However, these figures are clear and simple enough to demonstrate a looming topic that the city and school should answer to and that residents should be made aware of, especially because there is more to be explained under the surface. It is specifically due to this issue's complication that we request it be discussed in an open forum that community members can contribute to.
Just as with the Oxford City Council debate, this staff has the resources and the willingness to bring residents of Oxford, temporary and permanent, together to talk. It's up to the public and our officials who oversee this issue to decide if they are willing to do the same.