George Mason Law School

City administrators issue new resident guide to students

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October 16, 2009

3:20 AM

Utilizing the services offered by the City of Williamsburg just became easier for students at the College of William and Mary.

In an e-mail sent Wednesday by the College’s Office of Student Affairs, the city electronically distributed the 2009-2010 copy of the City of Williamsburg Resident Information Sheet: College of William and Mary Student Edition. The guide contains directory information for many of the city’s government officials and details about how students can best access city services.

“The City of Williamsburg and the College of William and Mary have a long-standing relationship and continue to work together to provide a safe and supportive environment,” Williamsburg Mayor Jeanne
Zeidler said in the e-mail. “To assist [students] in learning more about our city, we have developed the [guide] … We encourage you to read the guide, and keep it as a reference.”

Zeidler said that the guide is edited and printed by the city each year and represents the city’s attempt to educate students on its structure.

“[Students] should take from the guide that they are in a community that supports them and wants to provide them with this information about city government,” Zeidler said.

The guide is edited and updated by members of the city administration, then distributed to members of the community.

“We’ve been doing this for about four or five years,” Zeidler said. “It’s revised each year by the city manager and the communication manager based on feedback from the community.”

The city has often had difficulty delivering the guide to students in a timely manner. The October distribution of the 2009-2010 edition was one of the earliest releases of the guide.

“A couple of years ago, we had a problem where [the guide] wasn’t issued until after the holidays,” Zeidler said. “By that time, you’ve already lost a semester of use, so now we try to issue it as soon as we can. We would have liked it to be in earlier in October or even September. Ideally, it would be released when students get back.”

Student Assembly President Sarah Rojas ’10 said that the guide contains useful information that is now easily accessible for students. She also emphasized that the creation of a student-specific edition could benefit the College community.

“I think the guide is a nice gesture made by the city to welcome students back to campus every year,” Rojas said in an e-mail. “It shows that students are part of the city and that city officials are here to serve them as well as full time residents.”

The SA is also currently working on a similar guide for the College’s off-campus students.

The release of the residential guide is close on the heels of the decision by the city’s planning commission to not recommend altering the city’s three-person rule. Zeidler said that the two issues were not related.

“I think they are two separate issues,” Zeidler said. “It doesn’t really have anything to do with a three or four-person rule. The planning commission makes recommendations, and it’s still working.”

Rojas said that the timing of the guide’s release was coincidental and would not affect future discussions of the three-person rule.

“The timing of the guide had nothing to do with the planning commission’s recent discussions,” Rojas said in an e-mail. “The guide was completed by the city several weeks before that and was waiting to be distributed to students. The timing was simply a coincidence.”

Zeidler said the guide would benefit students by increasing their knowledge of city services.

“I hope it has a positive effect,” Zeidler said. “Students should know that they have access to these services.
That kind of information can only be positive.”

Rojas said informing students about the city administration could help resolve future issues between students and the city.

“I don’t see how this guide could have negative effects on town-gown relations,” Rojas said in an e-mail. “While there is obviously still a long way to go addressing town-gown issues, the guide serves to inform students about the community they are now a part of, [which is] a key step in solving issues.”

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