Staff Editorial: Comical policies may cost city

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October 30, 2007

1:51 AM

A story appearing in The Flat Hat this week addressing harassment and theft claims by students against the city of Williamsburg is further validation that the city has little respect for students.

p. In September 2006, the city suspiciously ordered three students to remove “debris” from the backyard of their rental house at 306 South Boundary Street, despite the fact that only an inflatable pool and lawn furniture occupied the yard. The students alleged that city representatives illegally trespassed on their neighbors’ lawn in order to take pictures of their yard, and in turn used these photos as evidence in a civil suit against landlord Gary Shelly ’72.

p. In a situation where The Flat Hat and other groups on campus have consistently argued that the city is arbitrarily applying its policies to focus on students, the city’s actions are now reaching a comical level. Students claim that they are being targeted by compliance officers, ridiculous policies and a mayor who appears to have no respect for students whatsoever.

p. What is particularly interesting about this ongoing story is that with 634 students currently registered to vote in Williamsburg through the voter registration drive run by the Student Assembly — not to mention other students who have registered on their own — the opinions of students will soon matter in Williamsburg politics. A candidate for city council who is sympathetic to student concerns, as opposed to one who ignores them, will likely gain the support of a voting student body.

p. A property inspector for the city claimed that the city is doing everything “out of the book” and that in Williamsburg, “there are codes you have to adhere to.” We are certainly in favor of having just and sensible laws to govern the residents of a community. It is the unacceptable practice of handpicking these laws to target students that is so egregious. Hopefully, with the rising number of registered student voters, these practices — and the city officials who steadfastly hold to these rules — will soon be on their way out.

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