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The great debate: does Oxford hate us?

It’s late August in Oxford, which can only mean one thing: students are back in town, and they’re here to have a good time.

But the influx of students doesn’t always bode well for permanent residents.

In a post to the Oxford Talk Facebook page, resident Susan Hall-Horn encouraged residents to welcome students back for the fall semester.

“Let’s welcome the students with open arms!” Hall-Horn wrote in the post

Not all residents shared her sentiments. Tiffany Webb-Sorrell was one of them. 

“When you have to deal with all the beer bottles and girl’s panties thrown in your yard, you try explaining that to your five-year-old granddaughter,” Webb-Sorrell wrote. “You tell me I don’t have a reason to dread [the students] returning.”

A lifelong Oxford resident, Webb-Sorrell’s family attachment to the town keeps her from considering leaving.

“I live right in the middle of all the fraternities, in a family home that has been here for over 80 years,” Webb-Sorrell said. “Long before the frat houses got here. It was my grandmother’s house, then my mother’s and now my husband’s and I’s. We’re not leaving.”

In addition to the trash, Webb-Sorrell experienced property damage from BB gun shots fired through her home windows two years ago, allegedly by students. She never received any follow up from police.

“The police do nothing about it,” Webb-Sorrell said. “The students get to destroy this town and then not face any consequences. They need to be held accountable.”

But not all Oxford residents share Webb-Sorrell’s views on students.

Tracy Lovejoy Agee, Oxford resident and food production leader at Maple Street Commons, looks forward to the students’ return every year. 

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“This month marks my 30th anniversary of working at Miami,” Agee said. “I have met and worked with so many wonderful kids through the years, many that I keep in touch with today. It’s one of the best parts of my job.”

While Agee understands the disturbances some students can cause in Oxford, she believes their financial impact on the town is too big to overlook.

“They spend money,” Agee said. “That puts food on the table and pays my bills. A lot of the businesses benefit from having the students here. The quiet break of the summer is good, but I couldn’t imagine this town without the kids.”

In the wake of COVID-19, Agee thinks the community needs the students here now more than ever.

“Seeing some businesses close from the pandemic has really made me think about what this town would be like if the university wasn’t here,” Agee said. “We can feel the town coming back to life and a bit of a sense of normalcy. Our building has been so busy, and I’m so proud of our staff for keeping up.”

Some residents are anxious about students returning, but some of them are overjoyed. 

Eleanor Prytherch, a sophomore English literature major, falls in the middle. She has spent her entire life living in Oxford. Her stance on the students in Oxford debate is complicated.

“It’s definitely more lively when the students are here,” Prytherch said. “But there isn’t a ton of regard on the students’ part that this is a town where people live and work. It was very clear last year that the students didn’t care about trying to keep the community safe.”

Ultimately, the relationships between Miami students and Oxford residents are too intertwined to ignore. Love it or hate it, the students aren’t going away – at least for the next nine months.

lordance@miamioh.edu

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