Oxford stays quiet for Green Beer Day, continuing student improvement since fall

The annual Green Beer Day celebration by Miami University students in Oxford was less colorful Thursday than in past years with many fewer alcohol-related problems, said city police.

The unofficial drinking event, which is usually held the Thursday before spring break with Uptown Oxford bars opening in the morning, was dampened this year due to coronavirus precautions and a city ordinance against mass gatherings.

Half the usual number of on-campus residents are gone and instead learning remotely from around the nation and overseas due to the pandemic. And Miami’s spring break days off have been removed from the student calendar in reaction to impact of coronavirus.

Those still living on- and off-campus in Oxford largely behaved themselves in the 2021 version of Green Beer Day, said City Police Lt. Lara Fening.

“It’s been very quiet and we’re very thankful for them seemingly behaving correctly,” said Fening.

That wasn’t the case in September when some Miami students living in housing off campus drew national attention for a police video of an officer confronting a student house party overflowing with students ignoring social distancing and masks.

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But after some initial, sharp jumps in the number of students testing positive for coronavirus in early fall, Miami’s on- and near-campus resident population has seen an overall lowering and steady plateau.

The school’s most recent posting on Wednesday on its coronavirus dashboard shows seven new student positive tests from the previous week’s posting.

Since the start of the spring semester in January, 11,223 students have been tested, and 70 have been positive, which is in sharp contrast to the early fall semester’s rate of infection, which sometimes increased by hundreds in a single day.

Around the off-campus neighborhoods Thursday there were a few gatherings of students at various houses but not nearly the crowds of partiers compared to pre-pandemic years.

Fening said only one citation for a mass gathering – more than 10 people in unsafe proximity – was issued as of late afternoon Thursday.

Miami officials said though the traditional celebration involves many students, they emphasized it’s not a school event.

“Green Beer Day” is not a Miami University event,” said Miami Spokeswoman Jessica Rivinius.

“The university does not sanction or condone it. It is neither safe nor smart in any year, but the pandemic adds another layer of risk this year. The health of our students and of the Miami community is of utmost concern.

“We are concerned that risky behavior this week - including large gatherings - could cause a spike in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks and could jeopardize our plans for in-person events for the remainder of the semester, up to and including commencement,” she said.