As of this week, Ole Miss students now have an extra hour out on the Square on weeknights.
A new policy was enacted earlier this month allowing bars in Oxford to stay open until 1 a.m. every night of the week except Sundays, when they will close at 9 p.m. Business hours at popular locations such as The Levee, Funky’s Pizza and Daiquiri Bar and Round Table on the Square have been changed to reflect the new law accordingly.
“The main reason for the city to extend bar hours is to maintain consistency across the board,” said Capt. Hildon Sessums of the Oxford Police Department. “Instead of hours fluctuating between midnight and 1 a.m. depending upon whether it is a weeknight or weekend or game night, the bars will always be open until 1 a.m.”
The Oxford Board of Aldermen and Mayor Robyn Tannehill passed the new policy in early December with no dissent and little discussion. All agreed this policy makes the most sense and will boost the economy.
“There’s a huge popular demand to make the bar hours consistent,” Ben Salvador, a senior social work major, said. “Students want to not only stay out later but also want to have to check what times the bars are open less. And, of course, the bar owners want to make more money by staying open an hour later.”
Steve Delcid, a bartender at The Summit Lodge Bar, said he is excited about the financial gains that may come from the extra hour.
“As a bartender, I welcome an opportunity to work an extra hour and make more in tips,” Delcid said. “Though I haven’t worked until 1 yet, as Monday we closed up early when attendance slowed down around midnight.”
Lee Harris, the owner of Funky’s, also says his business has not been abnormally busy on weeknights so far, tapering off at midnight like usual.
“I expect that will change this weekend, however,” Harris said. “I think on Saturday we’ll have people stay to the end and make more in tips and revenue.”
He does not expect to see any negatives come from this new policy, with which Sessums agrees.
“The only thing this policy will affect is the bars will be letting out a little later,” Sessums said. “I do not expect to see a rise in crime or DUIs.”
While Sessums does not expect to see a rise in crime, he cautioned that it might be a little too early to tell if the policy will affect crime rates.
“You give people an extra hour to drink, and you might see a small rise in crime – but not as much as you think,” he said. “If there is any rise in crime, it will be very small.”
Students seem just as positive about the new policy as bar owners and employees do.
“I heard rumors about the policy long before it was enacted or voted on,” Salvador said. “My roommates and classmates talked all about how excited they were.”
This Saturday will mark a week of the bars being open until 1 a.m. The policy will continue throughout the semester and hopefully lessen confusion for students, locals, employees and tourists in the city of Oxford.