The dismal relations between the Williamsburg community and the College of William and Mary are as old as the college itself. In 1854, a student publication called the Owl featured a piece in which antebellum students lamented that Williamsburg residents prey on students six days of the week and prayed for them on the seventh. With hostile neighbors, the largest student-to-police officer ratio in the state, and a local government that rates student houses as high profile and rules in favor of negligent landlords nine times out of 10, students still find little comfort in the city of Williamsburg. The three delis, which have traditionally provided a student-friendly haven in the midst of the community’s hostility, have now fallen under the city’s watchful eye.
Since its grand reopening, the new management of the College Delly has placed students under strict scrutiny. Instead of reacting to trouble once it arises, the new Delly treats every student as if the or she is an unruly child, rather than a paying customer. This approach is annoying, but it is reflective of Williamsburg’s popular opinion regarding students. Other new, anti-student policies of both the Delly and Paul’s, however, are not only annoying, but also illegal.
Since their redesign, both delis advertise strict credit card minimum policies. No purchase is allowed with a credit or debit card unless it exceeds $15. This policy forces students, who most often buy one $9 pitcher at a time (pitchers that were $7 last year), to buy more alcohol if they wish to use their credit or debit cards. Since the new Delly also refuses to stamp customers’ hands as they enter the door in order to mark who has already been let in, if students wish to run to Wawa they must again wait in line and have their ID checked before they can return to the bar. With such policies in place, the Delly and Paul’s have developed a way to ensure that students’s regular purchases are doubled.
Under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, credit card minimums cannot exceed $10. This provision went into effect on July 21, 2010, when President Obama signed the financial reform bill into law. The bill also declares all minimums on debit cards illegal. The delis have been quick to berate their student clientele, but it is their own actions that deserve scrutiny.
Once a retreat for students, the delis no longer cater to the College. The college needs to acknowledge the lack of entertainment in Williamsburg and provide for its students. During the 1970s, the College ran a bar on South Boundary Street. The drinking age was 18 and students kept the bar populated and profitable. Now that the legal drinking age is 21, the College has tried to distance itself from student drinking. The closest thing we have to a campus bar is Lodge 1, which rarely serves alcohol or even is staffed. Although pamphlets in Lodge 1 advertise daily specials and long hours, the pub is seldom open for business.
The refusal to utilize the facilities at Lodge 1 is both impractical and unsafe. The administration needs to acknowledge that at least a quarter of College students can legally drink. Lodge 1 can easily require both state-issued IDs and College IDs; with competent staff, underage drinking would not be an issue. Using Lodge 1 as an on-campus pub would improve students’ relations with the town, as Williamsburg residents would encounter intoxicated students less often. The pub would be a safe, controlled environment, as well as an additional source of revenue for the College. With the blatant hostility between Williamsburg residents and students, and the loss of the once student-friendly delis, we need an alternative to off-campus bars. The College needs to acknowledge that there are students who stay up past 11 p.m. and students who drink legally. We should utilize Lodge 1 instead of simply advertising for it.