Four months after his election as the first student elected to Williamsburg City Council as an undergraduate, Scott Foster ’10 has made his mark in city politics.
Foster received more votes than any other candidate, about 1,000 of which came from students. But his goals did not end with the election. Foster hopes to increase the representation of students in Williamsburg.
“[The election] really changed how people are thinking about students, [and] we have to be more accountable to this population,” Foster said.
Foster is not the only council member with ties to the College. Mayor Clyde Haulman teaches economics at the College, Vice Mayor Paul Freiling ’83 attended the College for his undergraduate degree and council member Judy Knudson served as assistant dean of admissions.
Foster said current College students could do more to expedite the city’s political processes.
“More students need to be actively engaged in the city to really get stuff done,” he said.
However, Knudson suggested that students should look beyond the city council to affect city policies.
“If students really want to make a difference on a level other than the council, maybe more effective than the council, the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Planning Commission are what are important,” she said. “They make decisions on sign sizes and zoning and have the ability to tweak things.”
According to Foster, both students and city residents are most concerned with student housing and town-gown relations.
“We have to improve neighborhood relations to where they are as good as they can be, and to encourage on- and off-campus student housing development as a long term fix,” Foster said. “If students take an active role in getting to know their neighbors, everything improves. That’s the first step.”
To improve city-college relations, the council will hold ice cream socials throughout the city, encouraging students and residents to attend.
“[A better relationship] helps students, helps neighbors and helps the police,” Foster said. “If a student is throwing a house party that gets too loud, with better relations, the neighbors are more likely to call the student before they call the police. All this contributes to making the city a better place for all residents.”
Since his election, Foster has gone through a council orientation and attended two city council meetings. He also serves on the Emergency Services Board and the Greater Williamsburg Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Alliance.
Foster also supported moving city council work sessions from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays. The time change could allow more Williamsburg residents to attend the public meetings.
Accepted to the William and Mary Law School, Foster decided to defer admission until 2011 in order to dedicate all of his time to his city council position.
“I’m going to stagger the start of two time-consuming activities,” he said.
City council members will meet Saturday for a retreat at the Stryker Building to set overarching goals for the next two years. Comprehensive policy goals will be released this fall.