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Oxford Mayor Meets with ASB

Grant Beebe

In today’s political climate, one may find it difficult to believe that politicians engage in any meaningful conversation with constituents. Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson, however, took the opportunity to meet with the Associated Student Body Sunday to discuss the recent rise in crime around the Square, the difficulty of growth in the Oxford-University community and opportunities for University of Mississippi students to get involved in the community. Patterson addressed crime around the Square and in old Oxford. Patterson asked for student participation in keeping Oxford a safe community. “There has been an increase in vandalism, and I need your help,” Patterson said to the ASB. “We need to communicate with folks that live in old Oxford that it is OK to go out and it is OK to have a good time, but on the way home, we are seeing a spike in vandalism.” From trash cans emptied onto the street to mailboxes destroyed, areas frequented by students are in a state of disrepair. Per the recommendation of the mayor, the Oxford Police Department will be increasing its active patrol of the Square and the immediate vicinity. Patterson maintains, however, that the Oxford Police Department does not like arresting students for charges of public disorder and will not unjustly target those who pose no threat. “If you are minding your own business and you are not calling attention to yourself, and you are not stealing something or tearing people’s property up, you are going to be left alone,” Patterson said. Patterson also addressed the parking issue on the Square and how it relates to the students of Ole Miss. Observing the challenges of parking and space constraints within the city of Oxford and the university, he discussed plans to build a parking garage near the Square. The challenge will be the cost. The city currently operates with a general fund of $20 million and anticipates a cost of $20,000 per parking space in construction. Patterson expressed his hope to find a suitable location and the opportunity to fund such an endeavor through bonds. ASB members closed the discussion by posing questions in regard to opportunities to bridge the gap between the university community and Oxford at-large. Patterson again called for students to get involved in their community. “Be a neighbor,” Patterson said. “Take 10 minutes and develop a relationship.” Members of the ASB and Patterson alike expressed hopes that similar discussions might continue in the future.