Last night marked the annual State of the City address from Mayor Richard Howorth. In the address, the mayor stated that the number one problem facing the city of Oxford is the "culture of alcohol." The mayor called for working with the University to solve this problem.
In the seven years that I have lived in Oxford, I have seen the mayor proven right again and again. No greater problem faces this city than the abuse of alcohol. Now don't get me wrong, prohibition is a terrible idea. Many of Oxford's citizen enough drinking in a very legal time and place. But it has become a concern of many that illegal use of alcohol is out of control.
Last year, the University formed the Ole Miss Alcohol Task Force. This group was composed of student leaders and community leaders to combat alcohol abuse on the university campus and in the city. The group presented its final report to Chancellor Khayat on January 23. The report gave the University two options to help solve this growing problem. The mayor, speaking of the task force, said he is more convinced than ever that it is the city's job to apply more resources to law enforcement."
More law enforcement will definitely be a help to curving this problem. The people that break the rules need to be punished. And the mayor discussed a possible way of aiding law enforcement in their pursuits. The task force recommended restricting minors' access to alcohol-serving businesses after 10 p.m. This seems like a great idea. However, the mayor feels this would "greatly impact the revenue of those establishments." The mayor went on to say, "As all establishments that serve alcohol must also technically qualify as restaurants, enforcing this curfew law would mean denying non-drinking minors access to eating in many restaurants after 10 p.m."
My issue with this is that there are plenty of other restaurants open after 10 p.m. Perhaps the minors should eat earlier in the night. It will not affect revenue as much as the mayor believes. Few have realized that little impact has come from the smoking ban that Oxford put in place. I do not think the same thing would happen here. A curfew for minors in these establishments is a great idea. It does not, however, address other means of minors acquiring alcohol in the city.
But the main problem is still the University campus. Unless greater efforts are made to completely stop alcohol consumption on campus, this problem is only going to get worse. I just think that the administration of the University needs to grit their teeth and accept the fact that some rich alumni are going to get pissed off. And frankly, that is just too bad. If they base their support of the University on something as trivial as alcohol, they are not the kind of supporters I want for my school. Campus should be dry and Oxford needs to clean out the drunks and under-age offenders. This people need to be shown that breaking the law is not okay in this town.