For some students living off-campus, their house name is synonymous with their identity. The party isn’t at Campus and Vine, it’s at Pucker Up. It’s not 101 E. Walnut, it’s at Tailgate.
While the names are funny and creative, students can sometimes push the envelope a little too far.
According to Oxford City Planner Kathy Dale, the city can only regulate the signs’ physical characteristics, not necessarily content.
“We really can only regulate as far as the physical sign itself goes,” Dale said. “They cannot be bigger than six square feet in size, they must be attached to the house itself and they can’t beilluminated.”
She also said there is little the city can do unless the signs are graphically inappropriate. There is a city law that says if a sign shows nudity or another offensive graphic, it can be taken down.
“Unless they depict pictorially something sexually demeaning, or of an explicitly graphic nature, we can’t do anything,” Dale said. “If there are a lot of complaints then the police may be contacted to see if they can talk to the tenants (about) changing the name or taking the sign down. But really, because of freedom of speech, there is little we can do.”
While the police may be called upon if a sign is obscene, the Miami University office of off-campus affairs typically handles such events. According to Off-Campus Affairs Coordinator Bobbe Burke, the office acts as a liaison between the student body and the surrounding Oxford community.
“While the signs are unique, interesting and offer students (a) greater identity, we really just want to remind them that they are part of a larger community and to be respectful of that,” Burke said.
Senior Caroline Greenbaum, of Outpatients, located next to the Oxford Community Counseling & Crisis Center on South College Avenue, said her house was asked to take their sign down.
“We really didn’t mean to offend anyone, and when they expressed a concern that it might upset their patients, we immediately took it down,” Greenbaum said.
While most disputes have been handled by students and residents, Oxford rental manager Tony Terrell said many Oxford realtors think that as the students move farther and farther off campus and into contact with the general Oxford community, there is a greater chance of disputes occurring.
However, Terrell said it is the landlords who have the final say.
“Owners have rules and regulations and some will allow signs to be put up on their house and some will not,” Terrell said.
Students who have problems with or questions about their signs are encouraged to reach out to the office of off-campus affairs with any concerns they may have, according to Burke.