Oxford’s Senior Citizens building was open briefly on Sunday afternoon, a rarity for the center, which is usually closed on the weekends. Inside the main room, long tables were pushed together and latecomers sat in circular tables in the back.
The second meeting to organize Oxford and Miami University’s involvement in the national Not In Our Town (NIOT) initiative was about to begin.
At one of tables, two of the Kramer Elementary third graders who spoke at last week’s meeting, Noel and Oliver, scribbled intently, quietly whispering to each other about whether or not their motto should be “Love. Peace. Passion.”
Mayor Kate Rousmaniere and Oxford resident Sabrina Jewell had everyone assembled go around the room, state their name and what skills they thought they brought to the table.
The responses varied overwhelmingly.
“We are having this meeting to determine what we’re doing next and who will be in charge of what,” Jewell said. “Clearly there is a lot of talent in this room from second grade—”
“To elder statesmen?” a voice interjected from across the room to a chorus of laughs.
“I was going to say senior citizens,” Jewell said.
Sophomore and student activist Clara Guerra suggested that one of the first things NIOT could address as a unified front is to tackle the Talawanda Redskins logo as well as how that racist symbol lingers in the mind of the university as Miami’s former mascot.
“While I agree that’s a good way to start we need to remember that this meeting is about how we can organize and literally answering the question ‘what are we going to do?’” Rousmaniere said.
Talawanda High School sophomore and president of the Diversity Club, Ella Cope suggested that everyone consider how useful it would be if certain groups organized by age and skill set.
“We need to organize around who has connections to who,” she said, suggesting that the young activists including: the students from Kramer Elementary School, Talawanda High School and Miami University band together.
“There needs to be a chief organizer from each of these groups,” Cope said.
“More of a grounding committee rather than a steering committee,” Rousmaniere said.
“Yes, exactly,” Cope said.
Cope discussed how she was planning a walk-out at Talawanda from 10-10:17 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14 in a show of solidarity following the Parkland, FL shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and floated the idea of including NIOT as a part of the walkout.
Meanwhile, Guerra announced that The Collective, a Miami organization dedicated to promoting inclusivity and responding to hatred and discrimination, is also organizing a walk out for the university community on Friday, April 20, which is the anniversary of the Columbine shootings.
“The national marches are being held on March 24,” Carole Katz said. “Maybe we can organize a group of people to go to Columbus to protest?”
However, the group decided to hold off on labeling these walk outs and marches as a NIOT events, because they did not want the non-partisan initiative to be “muddying the waters” by making a statement about gun control.
Jewell and Rousmaniere concluded the meeting by outlining what resources NIOT currently has and any immediate future plans including:
- Access to funding from the national NIOT initiative
- A Gmail account: email@example.com
- A Facebook page: NIOT Oxford OH/Miami University
- Placing an order for 10 NIOT banners through Miami University
- Establishing a Steering Committee
- Organizing an Uptown Vigil in support of the Talawanda High School walk out on March 14
- Identifying the partner organizations in the Oxford area: Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Oxford Citizens for Peace & Justice, etc.
This story was updated on Feb. 27 at 3:09 p.m.