Student nominations halt focus group discussion of the 3-person rule

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January 23, 2009

1:10 AM

A focus group commissioned by the Williamsburg City Council to study options for revising the three-person rule has been delayed. The group had originally planned to convene in January.

Student Assembly President Valerie Hopkins ’09 attributes the delay to poor timing.

“I think that it would be pretty unfair for them to meet while school wasn’t in session,” Hopkins said. “Unfortunately, the timing was pretty bad because they decided to have this committee while students were in exams, and students are a really integral component of the focus group.”

Hopkins is in charge of recommending two students to Mayor Jeanne Zeidler. The students will join SA Secretary of Public Affairs David Witkowsky ’11, who has already been chosen as a member.

“The ball should be rolling on [committee meetings] in the next week or so,” Hopkins said.

Along with students, other constituencies represented will include school administration, city government and neighborhood residents. Zeidler said that she has names of possible representatives for these groups and that once she receives the student recommendations, she can send out formal invitations.

“I think that can go pretty quickly,” she said, “but I need to hear back from Valerie and the Student Assembly for recommendations that they might give me of who to invite.”

Hopkins said that she has not yet been able to produce recommendations because she is trying to find students who live off campus to serve in the group.

“Unfortunately, although I have tried to conduct a pretty thorough search, finding students who live legally off campus that would be a good fit for this focus group has proven to be difficult,” she said. “However, I am confident that the students who will participate will represent students ably and additionally be attuned to the needs of not only the campus community but all of Williamsburg.”

The Focus Group on Rental Properties near the College is charged with examining enforcement policy of current ordinances, the College’s student housing policy and owner-renter relationships. The group will compare its findings to rental policies of other college communities and present the results to the City Council.

“My hope would be that this group would work through issues and reach a consensus,” Zeidler said. “If they don’t reach a consensus, if there is a majority and a minority position, then that’s fine. We can have a report on where they agree and where they disagree.”

Hopkins hopes to see the group meet by the first week in February, and Zeidler hopes that the group will conclude its work before the end of the semester.

“Our hope is that they would be ready to make a report before the end of the semester because otherwise, the semester ends — we may lose our student representatives, or we may not,” Zeidler said.

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