At first glance, senior Matt Beato’s failure to win a seat on the Williamsburg City Council in last spring’s election, coupled with the remarkably low voter turnout of registered College students, may be seen as a blow to future chances of improved relations and greater interaction between the student body and the city of Williamsburg.
When you take a step back, though, the situation is not as bleak. It is true that students missed a golden chance to organize and show collective power in our local government. However, Clyde Haulman, Paul Freiling and Judy Knudson — the winners of last spring’s race — undoubtedly have a stronger understanding and better appreciation of student needs and concerns thanks to Beato’s involvement and the campus’s enthusiasm before election day.
The debate focused on student issues that was held at the Wren Building would not have been possible, or even practical, without the genuine interest in city/College relations exhibited by the entire student body. And let’s not forget that election day fell at the end of the College’s exams, a factor that may have significantly impacted the student turnout rate.
As students return to campus, the lessons learned last spring cannot be forgotten. Unified, this student body can be a powerful voice for change in not only the city council, but all organizations that help dictate the policies and regulations of the College and Williamsburg.
Yet, by not following through on their calls for reform, College students have put themselves in a precarious position where their voice may once again slip from the city’s — and possibly the administration’s — radar.
Great strides were made during the lead-up to the election, but students must remain vigilant in the upcoming school year and beyond to ensure those strides are not forgotten.