Over and over again, I’ve heard from city and university officials that Miami University students have the power to decide elections.
For students whose only goals in college are to get a degree, network and land a job after graduation, caring about local government may not seem worth it. Plenty of students go their entire academic careers at Miami without ever knowing who sits on Oxford City Council, and more than a few probably couldn’t tell you that the Talawanda School District exists.
These institutions matter, though, to students as well as residents.
As Election Day approaches, the community will have the opportunity to decide who sits in our governing bodies and shapes Oxford’s future. As a student of Miami University, your vote matters, and it can also affect your daily life while here.
Oxford policy has direct impacts on students, from mask mandates in 2020 and 2021 to recent legislation aimed at restricting the growth of the vaping industry in Oxford. Their decisions have long-term implications, too, like the creation of the Oxford Area Trails or the decade-in-the-making plan to bring an Amtrak station to Oxford.
If you care about Oxford and want to have a say in the future of this town, start with voting for city councilors who represent your ideals.
Who sits on the Talawanda School Board may seem like a remote issue with no stakes for college students, but it affects all of us. Last year, the district failed to pass a tax levy. Now they’re faced with expensive pay-to-play fees, reduced bussing and even potential staffing cuts down the line if nothing changes.
If Talawanda can’t keep its status as an attractive school district for parents to send their kids to, professors will find somewhere else to move their families. A healthy, thriving community and school district is essential to Miami’s ability to maintain a strong workforce, and if the school district flounders, so will Miami in the long run.
How do students get a say? They stay informed, and they vote.
The Miami Student has spent the past two months creating a new podcast, “People and Policies,” hosted by Assistant Campus & Community Editor Olivia Patel and Staff Writer Raquel Hirsch. In each episode, you’ll hear from a different candidate for Oxford City Council, Talawanda School Board or the Oxford Township Board of Trustees.
If you aren’t registered to vote in local elections but are returning to Miami next year, you can still change your voter registration ahead of the 2024 election to vote in Oxford. If you do register to vote here, make sure you commit to actually doing so. The precincts covering Miami’s campus and student housing have historically had the lowest turnout in the county, even when school is in session.
If you’d rather vote by absentee ballot in your home state, make sure to check in with your county Board of Elections to see who’s on the ballot, especially in local races. National races for the Senate or the presidency may take up the most airwaves, but your local officials are the ones who will make a difference in your day-to-day life.
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It’s also far more likely that you’ll be able to directly interact with local officials than national ones. Resist the urge to vote down the ballot without doing any research, and instead make sure to look into each candidate to inform your vote.
Beyond voting in the election, you can stay up to date with local politics in Oxford by attending city council meetings every other Tuesday in the Oxford Courthouse or watching online at cityofoxford.org, subscribing to the city’s various newsletters, and engaging with local organizations. The League of Women Voters and Oxford Citizens for Peace and Justice both offer ways for residents and students to get politically engaged, and there are plenty of other organizations that you can volunteer with to get more involved in the community outside Miami.
If you don’t have time to attend meetings yourself or volunteer, you can stay up to date with The Student’s regular city council stories and other coverage of the city and school district. If we’re missing something you want to see covered, feel free to let us know using our story tips page.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7. In a tumultuous time when national politicians can’t seem to get together on anything, spend some time working from the ground up.
Please, get out and vote!