College experiences highs, lows last school year

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August 19, 2011

2:03 AM

Incoming freshmen may have heard that Williamsburg is a boring town. This past year, myriad issues have come across our desks here in The Flat Hat office; from bike theft on Jamestown Road to full-blown election scandals. One could say we’ve seen it all. But in order to save you all some time, here are the top ten most dramatic, important and newsworthy events of the 2010-2011 school year.

Tuition Hikes
Here is one you probably knew about already, especially if you are an out-of state student. Although the College is a state school, it carries the price tag of a private institution for all of the non-Virginia residents.
This past year, the Board of Visitors decided to increase undergraduate tuition, fees and costs by 5.5 percent for in-state students and 5.7 percent for out-of-state students. Total costs for in-state students
are now $22,024, while they are $44, 854 for out-of-state students. The Board of Visitors approved the increase in tuition this past April after the College lost nearly $7 million in federal stimulus aid, a 1.5 percent decrease. Since 1980, state funding for the College has been reduced 30 percent. “Fiscal year 2012 is going to be a bear,” College President Taylor Reveley said. “If we had gotten more state budget cuts this
year we really would have been up a creek.” Although a Virginia institution, the College currently only receives approximately 10 percent of its overall funding from the Commonwealth. The low funding percentage has some students and administrators discussing privatizing the school.

Todd Weaver

All across campus this past year, students could be seen sporting white wristbands with green lettering
reading “One Tribe. One Family.” as a means of supporting Todd Weaver ’08, an alumnus killed in Afghanistan Sept. 9, 2010. Weaver came to the College after serving in the Army National Guard and during a 10-month tour in Iraq. On campus, he studied government and international
relations, participated in the Reserve Officer Training Core program and studied abroad in Russia.
After graduation, Weaver became a member of the 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) in Fort Campbell, Ky. He died in combat in
Kandahar, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. “He did what he did because he believed in William and Mary, his solders and his family. We are very proud of him and very proud that he went to William and Mary,” Weaver’s father Don Weaver said while addressing student athletes at their end-of-the- year awards ceremony. The day after Weaver’s death, students
placed hundreds of small American flags in the Sunken Garden. In November, the College planted a beech tree in the Wren Courtyard to permanently memorialize Weaver. Three women from the Westboro Baptist
Church, who believe soliders’ deaths serve as divine punishment for the country’s sins such as homosexuality and abortion, protested Weaver’s funeral, but they were surrounded by a counterprotest of more than 100 Williamsburg residents, College students and the Patriot Guard. The 1LT scholarship fund, established by his family and wife, will pay for one government major’s study abroad experience each year. The scholarship will be implemented within the next year. Private donations as well as the Student
Athletic Advisory Committee sales of the “One Tribe. One Family.” wristbands have gone to raise money for the scholarship. As of the end of the 2010-2011 school year, over $30,000 had been raised, with $18,870 coming from the SAAC wristband sales.

Election scandal
Every April, Student Assembly elections are held on campus. This year’s race of Kaveh Sandeghian ’12 and Molly Bulman ’12 vs. David Alpert ’13 and Tamara Middleton ’14 caused more controversy than usual.
The Student Assembly Elections Commission suspended Sadeghian’s campaign for two days in reaction to his alleged offer of as much as $6,443 to alleviate the financial woes of the Publications Council, which sets the budgets for student publications, in the event of his election. The funds would be distributed through the SA’s Executive Discretionary account. In emails describing the exchange, Pub Council Chairwoman Meredith Howard ’11 urged members to vote in support of Sadeghian’s candidacy. The Flat Hat is a member of the Pub Council and received the email directly from Howard. The Review Board of the Student Assembly repealed the sanctions made by the Election Commission suspending Sadeghian’s campaign after an emergency hearing at 6:45 a.m. the next day, deeming there to be insufficient evidence to uphold the suspension. Sadeghian received a formal warning issue because the Review Board believed the situation could have been handled with greater political tact. Despite the drama of the campaigns,
Sadeghian and Bulman won the election with 56 percent of the vote. “I am so glad that Molly and I did not
give in to the drama during the situation,” Sadeghian said. “We kept it relevant and stayed calm. This is a good taste of what next year has to be like.”

New Fraternity Housing
If you haven’t noticed already, fraternity housing at the College, known as The Units, is a far cry from what you see at your typical Southern school. In response to the dissatisfaction with Greek housing, 11 houses will be built on Ukrop Way as a part of a new fraternity complex. Each house will hold 17 students, adding 187 new beds and 81,00 square feet to on campus housing. The $26 million dollar project
will break ground in 2012, with a projected competition date of fall 2013. Not only will the new complex affirm and strengthen fraternity life on campus, administrators say, but it will also help to alleviate the
housing shortage on campus. “Every year students get bumped,” ViceChair of Inter-Fraternity Council John Zachary ’12 said. “This is a way to make the Greek community happy and at the same time give students room. It frees up spaces in the Units to help alleviate the problems Residence Life is having, especially with the addition of students every year.”

Tribe Square/ Construction
Construction on campus was not uncommon during the 2011-2012 school year, with renovations across Old Campus and construction on Tribe Square making walking to class more like navigating a confusing maze. Construction outside Monroe, Jefferson, Ewell and Jones Halls caused many inconvenient road blockages, potholes, power outages and other disruptions to students across campus. Much of the construction on Old Campus was completed this summer, but continued construction projects will carry
into the fall. Tribe Square, a project that broke ground June 2010, will provide on-campus housing to upperclassmen as well as four new off-campus dining options. So far, the William & Mary Real Estate Foundation has announced the inclusion of the Pita Pit, The Crust and Subway Cafe. The fourth restaurant remains yet to be determined. The dining options in Tribe Square will not accept meal swipes or Dining Dollars, but each individual institution is welcome to sign up for the Express payment system if it chooses. “[Tribe Square] speaks to two of our most pressing undergraduate needs,” President Taylor Reveley said. “A place for undergraduates to live very close to campus… and a place for students, and particularly those able to drink, to buy reasonably priced food and find something to do in a venue that does not close up like a clam at 8 o’clock.”

Living Wage Coalition
Living wages was the buzzterm thrown around campus this past year. The student-run Living Wage Coalition (LWC) covered the campus with signs demanding “LIVING WAGES NOW!” and hosted sit-ins outside President Reveley’s house, the most dramatic culminating in the late-night arrest of five students
outside the Brafferton building. A living wage is defined as the salary someone needs to meet what the LWC deems the basic necessities of life: healthcare, food, childcare and housing. The group calculated that in Williamsburg the living wage is $18.29, but asserts that 75 percent of College housekeepers are making less than $10.57 an hour. “We are going to continue to fight until the President realizes that the economic crisis is no excuse for allowing vital members of our Tribe family to live in poverty,” LWC member Maggie Russolello ’12 said. “We will continue to educate the campus and take action until every worker is paid enough to support themselves and their families.” Sit-ins, walk-outs and protest rallies are just some of the events that the LWC has hosted in the past year in attempts to persuade the administration to raise the pay wage of College housekeepers and staff.

Parking
One of the advantages of attending the College is its proximity to Williamsburg, DC and Virginia Beach. Yet since parking is one of the biggest problems on campus, as a freshman, you will often find yourself exploring DOG Street more than DC. “Parking is a nightmare on campus,” resident parking pass holder Michelle Barber ’12 said, “and everyone knows it.” The demand for parking far exceeds the number of parking spots that the College can provide. Residents can currently park at 17 locations on campus, with the two main areas being William and Mary Hall and Zable Stadium parking lots. The College has been working to alleviate the problem of parking on campus. Currently only juniors, seniors and graduate students can obtain on-campus parking passes. Freshmen and sophomores can obtain on-campus parking
passes. In addition to on-campus parking spots, students can buy monthly parking passes at nearby off-campus car garages. With the introduction of Zipcar in, students now have more options for transportation. There are currently 8 cars available on campus for students to rent. These cars can be rented for an hourly rate of $8 on weekdays and $9 on weekends and a daily rate of $66.

AMP
One of the main perks of life at the College is the plethora of events that Alma Mater Productions (AMP) brings to campus. This past school year AMP brought acts such as Eric Hutchinson, Supermash Bros, Bill Nye the Science Guy, The Roots and Delta Spirit to campus. Other popular AMP events include the annual “Screen on the Green,” during which students can watch a movie under the stars on the Sunken Garden. Once a year AMP transforms the Early Gregg Swem Library into every TWAMP’s dream, also known as “Club Swem,” a karaoke dance club on the first floor of the library. This year’s AMP fall kickoff concert will
take place Sept. 3rd at Matoka amphitheatre and feature the rap artist Big Sean.

Rally on the Sunken Garden

Despite spring finals starting the next day, hundreds of students gathered in the Sunken Garden on May 2nd around midnight to sing patriotic songs, set off firecrackers and make patriotic speeches. They were celebrating the capture and death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. After President Barack Obama’s
speech announcing the event, a small group of freshmen gathered in the Garden to celebrate with American flags and chants. Within minutes 300 fellow students had joined them. Several students climbed on top of the Pepsi truck that remained in the Garden from the previous Friday’s Last Day of Classes festivities to make speeches honoring American soldiers. “We all ran to Sunken Gardens to
celebrate the news and my friend and I climbed a truck parked on the Sunken Garden, then proceeded to lead a USA chant,” Dan Velez ’13 said. “Everyone joined the chant. The atmosphere was electric and excited.” One student, Findlay Parke ’11, drove his car onto the Garden blaring music and waving a flag out of his sunroof. As students gathered around Parke to continue the festivities, William and Mary Police rushed to the scene. As the police escorted Parke and his car off the Garden , students followed chanting,
“Let him go!” Despite protests, Parke received a ticket for reckless driving and endangerment of lives. Students rallied around Parke and collected donations to help pay off his fine. Although many students took to celebrating the death of bin Laden, not all members of the Tribe found the event joyous. Some were disappointed in the reaction. “I understand that Osama bin Laden’s a major mass murderer and he
deserved to be brought to justice but I don’t think it is reasonable that we are celebrating quite this unreservedly,” Nick Shmedding ’12 said.

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