Staff Editorial: City behavior embarassing
October 9, 2007
Thursday’s meeting of student government leaders and officials from the city of Williamsburg should have been an important first step in tackling the town-gown disagreement over the three-person housing rule. We were pleased at news of this meeting, especially since many Student Assembly officials have made this a top priority. However, it is still disheartening that the basic rights of students continue to be thrown to the wolves by unreasonable city officials whose goal is articulated, legalized discrimination against students and whose means for attaining this injustice are equally absurd.
p. Williamsburg Mayor Jeanne Zeidler said that while “they had a really great conversation, there are no easy solutions” to the problem. If the mayor genuinely believes this, then she is completely out of touch. Abolishing such an ill-advised and unjust law as the three-person housing rule would certainly be easy, if only she were to get the picture. No law that is applied so sporadically and only affects a certain target group of individuals is reasonable. In this case, student rights are being violated for the perceived benefit of other city residents, and the city’s policy makers continue to turn deaf ears to concerned students.
p. Despite mounting criticism of the three-person housing rule, Zeidler continues in her steadfast refusal to listen to reason. The city constantly cites noise violations and increases in traffic and parking congestion as primary reasons for this law. Yet the city offered no consistent reason last January for handing eviction notices to 38 students after raiding the College’s student directory. In a town such as Williamsburg, a group of students constitute virtually the only situation in which three non-related persons would be living together under the same roof, so the oft-made assertion that the three-person rule is not geared toward students is erroneous.
p. If Zeidler is serious about traffic and noise concerns, then the city could simply issue fewer parking permits and step up ticketing — two “easy solutions.” Many local houses and establishments are built so that four or more people can comfortably live in the same residence. The perception that a group of students will automatically be noisy and disruptive is discriminatory, and articulating an end-goal of preventing noise complaints and maintaining tranquility in the city by curbing the constitutional rights of students is irresponsible.
p. The SA leaders, and all students on this campus, are fed up with such disgraceful city management, but the city still does not seem to care. The mayor has said she hoped for understanding and cooperation between the two sides, yet to both she appears to be firmly opposed. Students have tried to be reasonable, but the mayor and other city officials can not see easy and obvious solutions. After so much effort on the part of students, living in a city that continues to make a mockery of student rights is an embarrassment.