In 2015, I was elected Mayor of the City of Oxford, in part because I knew that we would have a new University President—President Greg Crawford arrived in July 2016—and I thought that as mayor, I could help further relationships between the city and the university. For the past two years, we have been doing just that.
Miami has always had a good relationship with the City of Oxford, but not always a productive one. What I mean by that is that while students have always played a central role in the city through volunteer work and internships, there has not always been coordination on some of the university issues that really plague a college town, and that occupy many city resources, particularly student alcohol-related behavior, and student housing issues. Other college towns are exploring these problems through an international organization called the ITGA—the International Town Gown Association—which meets every year and which attracts city and university staff to discuss problems, and solutions, to some of the common challenges facing university towns.
Since 2011, a representative team from Miami and the community has been attending these meetings. I attend in my “double identity” as a university faculty member and mayor of the city. We have recently broadened the group to include the Associated Student Government President and representatives from the Oxford Village Network Senior Citizen Community. This past summer, the group successfully planned the second annual Ohio Town Gown Summit, which attracted over 100 city and university representatives from across the state of Ohio in late July. The work has allowed me to understand and appreciate the local context of Miami University even more, and to consider the ways in which different organizations intersect, overlap, and can support each other. And I also see places where sometimes there is no way to intersect.
On my almost daily walks from McGuffey Hall to the Municipal Building on High St., I walk along this path where I see a visual representation of that intersection right on Campus Avenue. That is where, literally, town and gown meet, and it’s up to us—on all sides of that intersection, to decide what to do at that meeting place.
From Kate Rousmaniere
Professor and 25-year veteran of EDL, and now Mayor of the City of Oxford