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Green Beer Day had relatively low citations, follows trend of recent years

<p>Despite many students reporting seeing large parties on Green Beer Day, just one mass gathering citation was issued.</p>

Despite many students reporting seeing large parties on Green Beer Day, just one mass gathering citation was issued.

This year, just more than 30 total citations — including one for mass gatherings and zero for mask violations — were issued by the Oxford Police Department (OPD) over the course of Green Beer Day (GBD) events. Despite this low number of citations in comparison to years past, students reported both seeing and attending large gatherings with more than 60 people in attendance. 

In addition to the mass gathering citation, OPD officers issued four underage-drinking/possession citations, four prohibited acts citations and four disorderly conduct citations. 

Three open container citations and seven noise violations were issued, as well as citations for marijuana possession, operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI), littering and traffic violations. 

All citations were given between March 24 and 26, which included GBD on March 25 as well as the days before and after.

Leading up to the event, Miami University warned students that police presence in the city would be increased with six agencies represented in Oxford. The university also cautioned students against participating in events that violated COVID restrictions, particularly if they are underage.

“This year, Green Beer Day was really nothing, which is fine with us,” said Jessica Greene, Oxford’s assistant city manager. “And over the past several years, we've been working very hard to make it a non-event.”

Although relatively few citations were issued by OPD officers this year, many students were still participating in GBD events, and large parties still took place.

One senior media and culture major, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said he and his friends saw large numbers of students out and about on Wednesday night and Thursday.

While he and his friends attended several “low-key” house parties, they also attended a large block party at Gaslight Townhouses early Thursday morning and a house party Thursday evening that both had at least 60 people in attendance. 

He also said that when he and his friends drove through Uptown around 5:30 a.m. on Thursday, they saw long lines of students waiting outside of both New and Side Bar.

“It kind of felt like we were going out later in the nighttime, because we did see a lot of people,” he said.

Greene said that with GBD falling on a wellness day this year, the city wasn’t sure to expect, but that none of the events exceeded what the local community could handle. 

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Greene attributed the lack of citations to the pandemic and also an increased cooperation between Miami and the city in recent years which she said has led to less extreme partying when it comes to GBD events.

“I would say it's been low key for several years now, so it's not just this year,” Greene said. “But I do think it's a combination of factors with the restrictions with COVID and our increased enforcement and also just continued planning and coordination with Miami.”

OPD citation numbers given during GBD events have decreased in recent years. In 2017, OPD issued 34 possessions for underage drinking/possession, followed by 14 in 2018, two in 2019 and four in 2021. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Miami University went fully remote and sent students home in March 2020, just before GBD, so hardly any events were held and no citation numbers are available for that year.

Overall, more than 90 citations were issued by OPD in 2017 for GBD-related events, with that number shrinking to less than 30 in 2018 and 2021. Only nine GBD-related citations were given in 2019.

Throughout her three years at Miami, Ann James, director of community standards said none of the GBDs she’s experienced have been the huge events that she was expecting. She was surprised at how underwhelming the event was in 2019, her first year working for Miami.

“From my understanding, it had already sort of lost its luster, if you will,” James said. “It wasn't the kind of big event that it had been in previous years.”

This year, James compared the event to a typical weekend, with no more citation reports coming in than an average Saturday. She believes increased communication from the university and city about COVID restrictions and increased police presence encouraged students to keep their celebrations more low-key.

“In the days leading up to March 25, there was a lot of communication from the university to the campus community and the Oxford community about the partnership with Oxford police and local police agencies, and how enforcement was going to be really high that day,” James said. “And so ... if I was a student, I might listen to that and be like, ‘Wow, I don't really want to get a citation. So I'm going to maybe not do those things.’ So I think that could be a deterrent for this year.” 

Senior Ben Siefke, who worked at Skipper’s from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. on GBD, said that Uptown was relatively calm during his shift, although many of the people he saw had already been partying for hours at that point.

“Most of the people that were out at that time had been out just all night,” Siefke said, “So everyone was pretty much dead. Uptown was pretty much dead.”

Siefke also said that Uptown was less crowded than in past GBDs, likely due to the fact that undercover cops were present and students who are underage know to avoid the bars on GBD. He also pointed out that this leads students to flock to house parties, including the one held at Gaslight Townhouses.

“I saw a bunch of snapchats posts of that,” Siefke said, “and I was like, ‘that [is] going to be a trainwreck.’”