OXFORD — The City of Oxford is saying ‘Not in Our Town’ to bullying and hate crimes. City and Miami University leaders are in the process of rolling out their own Not in Our Town program, which is a National Initiative against hate crimes.
Sabrina Jewell, Community Leader and Treasurer of PFLAG, attended an Oxford City Council meeting back in August seeking the city’s support in the new initiative.
Jewell explained, she learned about other universities creating their own Not in Our Town initiatives during the Town and Gown summit held by Miami University this past summer.
“I was able to attend the second Ohio Town and Gown summit in June. Miami University hosted. Bowling Green and BGSU presented on their Not in Our Town initiatives. Several of us local community leaders and Miami University and city people got very excited about it,” she said.
“It had been on our radar to get more information,” she said. “Then the Charlottesville incident happened and we knew we had to do something about it now. We knew we needed to set a tone as students were coming back to campus.”
During the meeting, council requested more information, but vocalized their support. That enabled Jewell to roll out the initiative during the annual Community Picnic, which was only days later.
“I have to say, I’ve been incredibly thrilled with the momentum we have started. The students created a rally on Wednesday, Aug. 30 and close to 300 people showed up. There was a lot of solidarity. That was on Wednesday night, then on Thursday night we rolled the Not in Our Town Initiative out during our community picnic,” Jewell said.
“We all hustled to get this banner created — which Miami University and the city split the cost of. Then I threw together a brochure, which is a work in progress,” she said. “What I would like is to have the other supporting organizations and groups in town sign on. We’ve had the banner with rainbow sharpies so people could pledge their names to be part of the initiative.”
The banner has been traveling to different Oxford events to reach as many people as possible. It was at the Community Picnic and has been at the September Uptown Concerts. Even when the banner is finished, Jewell can see it moving around so people can see the community support.
Jewell also hopes the banner will “create dialogue.”
She said, “Here’s the deal, when you live in a small town like Oxford, partisanship doesn’t get you anywhere. It is the bigger things that we focus on. In this town, to get things done is not about being partisan, it’s about being collaborative.”
As for what the initiative will consist of other than the banner, Jewell said they are trying to figure that out for themselves.
“We just had a conference call with the National Not in Our Town organization. We are going to work on registering to become part of the network, so we get put on their map. We want to become a Gold Star City. Then we’re going to host several screenings. They have created PBS documentaries that are apparently awesome. You can go online and download them. PFLAG plans to show one of the films,” she said.
“We are also thinking about doing a field trip up to Bowling Green to talk to them more. Really, what we need is for people to say yes to being part of the steering committee,” Jewell added. “One of the things that was interesting that the National Committee advised is to get some of the minority groups we are trying to defend to be a part of the steering committee. We want them at the table.”
“Not all of our public leaders need to be on this committee,” she said. “We’re trying to figure out how to tap into those groups. The other group that has really wanted to be a part of this was the school district. We have to figure that out.”
She added, right now reaching out via Facebook — Not in Our Town-Oxford/Miami University — would be the best course of action if interested in being a Not in Our Town Leader or learning more about the initiative.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH