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“OxVegas forever” group chat buoys 150+ students through quarantine

Four days after classes went online, an unofficial Miami GroupMe chat with 156 members and counting was born. Here are some out-of-context highlights from the chat:

Kyle Smith: What’s up, my name’s Kyle, and I’m straight up not thriving right now.

Samantha Leone: Everything is awful and that’s all I’ve learned.

Sarah Emrick: My pets are keeping me somewhat sane through this.

Lily Chenault: This is the most incredible exchange I’ve ever witnessed and I’ve met Bill Nye.

Junior Jannie Kamara started the chat on March 17, a day before she was elected president of Associated Student Government (ASG). Since then, the “OxVegas forever” chat, with its daily barrage of messages, has served as a source of support and entertainment for its members.

Kamara first created “OxVegas forever” to see who was still in town after she was overwhelmed by people asking her if she was still staying in her Oxford apartment. She expected maybe 50 people would join, but the chat is now three times that size.

Adara Trippy has joined the group.

Trippy, a junior majoring in psychology, has been in group chats for the Class of 2021, Scholar Leaders, projects, clubs, professional organizations, classes and as an Honors ambassador. 

None have peaked like “OxVegas forever.”

“[This chat is] definitely the largest group chat I’ve ever been in,” Trippy said.

She joined the group when it had only 32 members. Trippy was still staying in Oxford when she clicked on a link to the group chat that Kamara shared on her Snapchat story. She is friends with Kamara but knows many in the chat as acquaintances.

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“I feel like none of us have anything in common except living in Oxford,” Trippy said.

Since joining the chat, Trippy moved back to her home in San Antonio, Texas, and now relies on “OxVegas forever” to connect to Oxford and other Miami students.

“You can relate to people missing Oxford or not being able to do anything in Oxford,” Trippy said.

Students have shared Kroger coupons, links to coronavirus news, pet pictures and countless memes about coronavirus, the Crawfords and Miami. They have also planned a social distancing scavenger hunt around Oxford and a Secret Santa-style favorite recipe exchange.

Lily Chenault has joined the group.

Chenault is a junior majoring in early childhood education. They organized a Google form for the recipe swap, so “Gordon Ramsey in a Santa suit” could deliver instructions for “new and funky fresh food” by Sunday, April 12, via email.

As an Oxford resident and a student, Chenault has been frustrated by Miami’s reputation for drinking and hazing in Greek life. They say the quarantine has revealed a lighter side of Miami.

“It’s been very wholesome,” Chenault said.

Along with a recipe called “be how you be” enchiladas, which includes an enchilada base with whatever extra ingredients you prefer, students share questions and answers to scheduling, rent, what is still open and what has closed via the chat.

“You never know who you’re going to need or who has a question you can answer,” Kamara said.

Jannie Kamara liked your message.

Messages from the chat notified Kamara on April 5 that her Twitter had been hacked and was blasting fake $4 RayBan deals. Thanks to the messages, Kamara could quickly change her password that morning.

Kamara does not post much in the chat herself, but she enjoys seeing messages from others. She is glad it has carved out a virtual community space.

“It’s nice to have solidarity,” she said. “Something to fall back on.”