The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
Next semester, The Miami Student will host a forum dedicated to bringing together the community and discussing how our town allocates its emergency resources. It will feature officials from the Oxford Fire Department, Oxford Police Department, Miami University Police Department and McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital, as well as city and university representatives.
The date is set for the evening of Wednesday, Feb. 7 in Wilks Theater.
In recent weeks, it has been the OFD at the forefront at the conversation, as reported in Assistant News Editor Céilí Doyle’s Oct. 24 article titled “Burnt out: OFD staff stretched thin.” Just this past weekend, the OFD answered 45 EMS calls, 21 of which were alcohol-related and 24 fire-related. However, now that the general issue of strained emergency resources has emerged, it is time to expand the conversation to all relevant parties. This forum will be a step toward that goal.
While this event may not be a blockbuster production with a celebrity host, its weight cannot be overstressed to the Miami and Oxford community. Oxford’s town-gown relationship is oftentimes a mutually beneficial one, but, in recent years, the strain that Miami students have been putting on the city and its departments has intensified.
The issues are complex, including how hospital, police and fire staff have to deal with grossly drunk students, and how the city can finance emergency services and other departments like parks and roads while simultaneously maintaining student and resident safety throughout the town. Student drinking is inextricably linked to all of these issues and must be addressed as well, though it will not be the sole focus of the conversation.
Students must understand that whenever they go to the hospital or are picked up by police, that puts an impactful, collective strain on the resources of all of these departments. Hospital and fire staff are nearing their capacity to serve both school and city without burning out. This meeting is a way of getting everyone together to reconcile this problem.
With such a large ratio of students to permanent residents in Oxford, it is imperative that students from all aspects of Miami life attend to contribute to this discussion. If only those most concerned go, the critical mass of students that use these resources will not be able to see their true impact on the town and give their input on the situation. IFC, Panhellenic, ASG and other major organizations should make an effort to get students in seats, not only for the sake of this initial conversation, but to improve town-gown relations moving forward.
We encourage all Miami students and members of the Oxford community to submit questions and topics of inquiry relevant to this discussion. This forum will be open to all, and as all students rely on the security of knowing emergency services are available to them, all students should have a vested interest in attending and following the conversation.
It may be more than a month away, but given the importance of this topic, please consider giving some of your thoughts over break to enriching this talk. We are a part of this community as long as we live and study here, and when events such as these roll around, we must act like it. Email eic@miamistudent with any questions or comments leading up to the event.