By Walter Hickey
The City of Williamsburg’s recently published “Guide for Students” is part of the effort on behalf of the Williamsburg government to connect with students. Students can use the online guide to become more acquainted with the ins and outs of Williamsburg.
The guide contains an expansive list of relevant city phone numbers, information ranging from the Jamestown Ferry to human services offered by the City of Williamsburg. The guide describes the steps that the city has taken in pursuit of environmental awareness, and also details where free public WiFi can be found. Also included is information on how to access shopping centers and the farmer’s market, as well as student-directed messages of good will from Mayor Clyde Haulman and the city council.
Sometimes, though, it was the more practical day-to-day things that evoked positive student responses. One such fan of the guide was Maureen McNabb ’12 who resides off campus.
“The guide was pretty informative, I didn’t realize how cheap parking passes for the city were,” McNabb said. “I didn’t know they did recycling either.”
The guide describes, but does not discuss in depth, the City’s general policy toward off-campus students.
McNabb added, “Although the policies of the City of Williamsburg are not the most student friendly,” McNabb said. “The guide satisfactorily outlines them.”
Still, the guide could fill the void left by absentee landlords, who rent mainly to students, according to McNabb.
“It provides useful information about parking, recycling and other services which any student living off campus would most likely find helpful, especially if their landlord did not provide it.”
Brett Petchenick ’11 said he believes the new production presents an accurate portrait of Williamsburg and the services the town provides.
“The guide reflects reality very well,” he said. “It’s useful in making students aware of the amenities the town has to offer such as free public transportation and local restaurants.”
But some students thought the guide didn’t go far enough in addressing student concerns. CJ Bergin ’11 found fault that the oft eclectic trolley is described as an asset for students.
“I’m really unhappy about how the trolley is so unpredictable and how difficult it is to actually get on it,” Bergin said. “They glazed over that a bit in the guide.”
By far the most common student complaint was not the content but the method of dissemination. Jim Irby ’12 said he took specific issue with the difficulty it took to find the guide compared to what it had to offer.
“I think it had a fair amount of useful information, though most of it I probably could just have easily found online.”
Still, he added, the guide has its uses.
“I’m not sure I really [would] keep a hard copy of this for reference,” Irby said. “But having all the contact info and links in one place could be useful.”
The guide is available under the Student tab on williamsburgva.gov. It’s an informative read for anyone venturing out into the off-campus housing process, and contains information vital to the renting process in the city. While most students would agree that town-gown relations may need a littler work, the good intentions of the Williamsburg city council are something we can all appreciate.