A Summer in the Deep South
It is the end of May and summer is in full effect at The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) located in Oxford, Mississippi. Finals ended May 12 and the town is all of the sudden starting to feel more like a ghost town. More locals start to show their faces, but for the most part, the life of Oxford is on break for a few months. Many locals and Oxford small shop employees feel as Ole Miss students over-populate the town, but in a good way. They bring nonstop busy business throughout the entire school year.
Oxford is a small, humble southern town that thrives off students during the school year. The streets are packed, the night life is live, and the shops on the square try to keep up with the constant revenue of their sales. Oxford students and locals are very loyal to their local shops. Big time department stores and chain restaurants have made an appearance in Oxford, but no feeling is the same as what the shops and restaurants on The Square give us. Oxford’s small business rely on the students for their sales, and they get ready for the swarm of students that will arrive in the fall. But unfortunately Oxford’s small business owner have been hit the hardest by the gentrification and sky rocketing housing costs in Oxfords. Many small business are slow in the summer due to the lack of student traffic. A lot of business are put on hold during the summer months, but their rents are certainly not put on hold.
Hannah Lewandowski, a 21 year old student at the University Of Mississippi, she is currently living in Oxford for the summer and works at a local bar on The Square, Funky’s. She has worked at Funky’s for almost six months now and has seen a drastic change in the traffic throughout their doors since school has finished. This lack of traffic hurts her bank account personally and even Funky’s “bank account” as whole, because no matter what, Hannah and all of the other employees still have to pay an extremely high rent. “Rent is very high in Oxford. I am from Pennsylvania and all of my friends go to school close to home. When I tell them how much my rent is they laugh. It is really bad in the summer especially because I, and none of my roommates, will be living in our house. Unfortunately none of us could find anyone to sublease our house, since we all have internships in different cities. Starting in June we will have to pay two rents and it is absolutely ridiculous.” Lewandowski said. The leases that students and local workers have to sign are crazy high and for an unreasonable amount of time, especially when most students and people head out of town for the summer.
Oxford slows down completely for the summer, but is quick to pick back up in the fall. Whether there are many students here or not, the rent never changes, unless it is in a rise in price. During the summer businesses owners and employees struggle, the lack of constant student traffic sets business back. The gentrification that is happening in this small southern town is hurting the small businesses owners and employees drastically.