Most Miami University students and Oxford community members can attest to the fact that when walking off-campus streets of Oxford late at night, there are not many streetlights lining the sidewalks.
For some, this may be seen as a safety issue for late night uptown travelers, but for others it may be an asset to the street they live on.
Alan Kyger, Oxford economic development said, “The general rule on streetlights is that there must be one at every intersection so where two roads meet there’ll be a street light.”
According to Bobbe Burke, coordinator of off-campus affairs, there are many opportunities for the city to work with Miami students to find places in the city where lights may be needed.
“Years ago I worked with student community relations commission, which is a permanent committee of city council and there were a variety of times in which we’ve looked into the lighting situation,” Burke said. “The first time we looked more in relations to the alleys and where they were the darkest.”
According to Burke, one proactive movement to identify areas needing lighting was having a group of Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic members walk the alleys and identify with police officers places that seemed particularly dark.
“We also ensure that we looked at lights on a regular basis to make sure that they work,” Burke said. “So now every fall as we look into daylight savings time, ASG [Miami’s Associated Student Government] does a lighting sweep on the streets on mile square.”
Mile square, according to Burke, begins at the Miami Art Museum and then turns into Chestnut Street all the way to Locust Street. It dead ends into Sycamore Street and hits Patterson Street.
According to Burke, the issue of streetlights is something the city must look at not only for students, but for community members as well.
“Students may think of it as safety but if parents for example lived somewhere and have a street light shining in their baby’s room it may be different,” Burke said. “So it’s much more than just safety and we have to be aware of that as you think of the different things going on.”
Burke said it is all about balance.
“It’s about lights and being an annoyance and those are two different things that must be balanced as we look at what goes on in the city,” Burke said. “But if more than one difficulty happened on one street we could put more lighting. And that’s what the city tries to do, balance safety and what the neighborhood wants and needs.”
According to Burke, ASG works with the Residence Hall Association (RHA) by looking at mile square and the lights to see if they are out. If an area feels particularly dark, students should let the city know to examine and then ask the whole neighborhood if it would be ok to look into for lights.
“Students can assist the city in where the lights are needed by letting the city know where areas could be lit,” Burke said. “The city has done everything by law that needs to be done but if students do not feel safe then they should make it known to the city so that the city can move forward.”
According to Burke and Kyger, the main thing is balancing what is best for the students and other community members in order to make Oxford a safe place that serves the community.
“Some neighborhoods like it dark and some like it lit up, it just depends on the area,” Kyger said.
Miami University sophomore Alexa Livadas said the city must balance the needs of the community and the needs of students, however she still believes Oxford needs more lighting along the streets.
“It is so dark on some of the off-campus streets,” Livadas said, “I understand that the city has to take care of everyone in the community’s needs, but students definitely need to let them be aware of the darker areas because student’s safety could be at risk on a lot of the poorly lit streets. It should for sure be a priority.”