Students protest three-person rule at Grand Illumination
December 7, 2009
Students protested the three-person rule during Grand Illumination Dec. 6. No more than 20 students at a time stood in downtown Colonial Williamsburg with signs made out of pizza boxes while hundreds of people entered to participate in the annual celebration.
The protest came after a recent crackdown on alleged three-person rule violators by the City of Williamsburg. It is also an effort to raise support and awareness before the City Council votes on changes to the three-person rule on Dec. 12.
“I think this is a very creative act on behalf of the students, even with finals and all of the stress that they are under,” Undersecretary for Public Affairs in Williamsburg Emily Gottschalk-Marconi ’12 said. “They still have time to participate politically, and I am glad that they are taking a stand.”
The students were not affiliated with any particular organization. The protest was organized by an event on Facebook and a Facebook group entitled “Protest Williamsburg’s Three Person Rule,” created by Clint Schiavone ’11. Schiavone is a resident of one of the houses that was recently notified of not complying with the rule.
“This [protest] is a response to the nine houses that were cited for being in violation of the three-person rule,” Gottschalk-Marconi said. “Many of those have been found to be incompliant, but they are going through investigation.”
One of the protestors, Lenna Walker ’11, has been a witness to the aftermath of the recent notices given to houses potentially in violation of the rule.
“My friend was evicted two days before Thanksgiving and two weeks before exams,” Walker said. “He is now living outside of his truck.”
Most of the notices distributed to students living off-campus were in response to neighbor complaints. Walker states that in her friend’s case was a similar situation.
“Our license plates have been written down, and his neighbor has been tracking when we have been coming and going from that house,” Walker said. “It is an invasion of privacy.”
While students are aware of the law in Williamsburg, most feel living off-campus with the rule is far too expensive for a student budget.
“The on-campus housing can’t provide enough housing for all of us, so we are pushed off campus,” Walker said. “Once we are there we can’t afford it because even a house that can fit six, only three people can live in.”
Gottschalk-Marconi agrees that the protest is in large response to the recent notification of off campus houses.
“To be cited right before finals and right before Thanksgiving is something that students don’t really agree with,” Gottschalk-Marconi said. “That is something they will be bringing attention to at the protest.”
The City Council will meet on Dec. 12 to vote on changes to the three-person rule.