With all that’s going on with the national political stage, it’s easy to get swept up in theoretical debates about party lines and issues of international importance. But what happens in the White House rarely affects people's day-to-day lives.
In fact, the government body that actually impacts our lives as students and community members can barely draw more than a handful of spectators.
Oxford City Council is usually chalked up to being a board full of people that have too much time on their hands and way too much knowledge of the bureaucratic handbook: Robert’s rules.
But for the past year and a half, I’ve been one of just a few onlookers of city council. Every two weeks, when the council meets, I’ve tuned in to write a 500-word brief about the important events of the meeting.
For the most part, meetings consist of the seven council members debating about sidewalks, real estate developments and other things of little importance to the community at large.
But sometimes, the council can come together to make actual change.
In November 2020, council passed a resolution to create a cold shelter for community members experiencing homelessness. In October 2020, it passed funding for public Wi-Fi for mobile home parks and community parks in Oxford. In July 2020, council passed a ban on police chokeholds and a mask mandate in the same meeting.
These things aren’t just far-off ideas for legislation that gets debated in the court of public opinion. These are things that are actually happening, and they are affecting real people.
For better or for worse, these seven people have a tremendous impact on Oxford, a town where students spend eight months out of the year. While this may not be your home for very long, the time you spend here makes you part of this community.
This November, more than half of our city council members have terms that are expiring, which means there will be an election.
It terrifies me to think I may be the most well-informed voter out of the student body when it comes to city council.
So don’t let me be.
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Take two hours out of your day and watch a meeting. If you can’t do that, pick up a newspaper and read about what happened. Or better yet, read all the briefs of the past year on The Miami Student’s website.
And it doesn’t just have to be city council. Recently, the Police Community Relation and Review Commission (PCRRC) allowed community members to speak openly about how well they believed the commission was doing and what they wanted to see from them.
Many student leaders posted about this event on social media. None of them participated.
While Oxford may not be the place I was born and raised, it is a place that I want to see be better. It’s a place where students and community members can work together to create a progressive and accepting city.
But it’s not going to happen without students paying attention.
So hold your local leaders as accountable as you hold national ones. Let them know when they’ve done a good job and call them out when they aren’t doing the job they promised.
This is as much your town as it is townies’. If you want to create change in the world, make it start here in Oxford.
And when you cast your vote in November, make sure it’s an informed one.