Confusion Corner: Considering College-community relations from another perspective

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March 29, 2012

10:58 PM

Here at the College of William and Mary, we have something called “the bubble.” All students remain within the bubble — otherwise known as “not real life” — throughout college. It usually consists of running from the Student Recreation Center to the Campus Center and back to cross another task off the never-ending but often pointless to-do list. This fake life also often includes naked triathlons through the picturesque colonial city, going on international or tropical adventures during winter break, and applying for another club or volunteer position without enough time or sanity to attend to it.

Like I said, not real life.

The other half of the population, whether faculty, Williamsburg retirees, and all other residents and families most commonly known as the rest of the Williamsburg residents, happens to live outside of our bubble. Their ordinary lives are filled with work, work and more work. The occasional trip to Busch Gardens does happen, but it is often replaced by public television, as well as concerts, shows and food real people actually have to pay for out of their own pockets (Dining Dollars do not apply). Their days are then topped off by substantial responsibilities such as paying bills and correctly filling out tax forms, all of which seem like distant or mythical creations to many students. These people, along with the continually disoriented tourists, are also wonderful patrons of the shops on Duke of Gloucester Street, supporting places such as the Peanut Shoppe, a place known by students as the magical land of free and never-ending samples.

However, with the aforementioned bubble in mind, most of us continue to be appalled at the relationship, or lack thereof, received at the hands of the city as we gallivant around in our vibrant youth. To our surprise, the two groups frequently collide in interactions which culminate in students paying unjust fines for noise violations and breaking housing capacity regulations. The fact that the city fails to offer any substantial student discounts on items not directly related to pizza or pricey William and Mary apparel offered by the newly renovated Barnes and Noble bookstore continues to offend — and the vicious cycle continues.

However, as spring semester continues and we physically train our bodies to survive the shenanigans that take place right before final exams, I think it’s important to remember that there are always two sides to every window.  Let’s consider a hypothetical scenario set on a Thursday night.

Scenario one, student perspective: A College student, of unknown age and questionable sobriety, stumbles into a backyard that resembles the location of the party for which she is searching. To her dismay, a demonic bathrobe-dressed neighbor of the party house opens his door and utters very angry, police-related words at the innocuous student. Said intoxicated student now becomes terrified, but refuses to admit defeat, quickly jumping a nearby fence, ripping her dress and walking away with several bruises to show for it. She spends the next week recounting the story of bravery and abuse to the entire student body — not a good start.

Same scenario, opposite perspective: For the sake of this character study, the neighbor has been assigned the purely arbitrary pseudonym of Mr. Funhater. Mr. Funhater, a Williamsburg gentleman, has just spent another grueling day at work, and an even worse night with his two screaming kids. He is attempting to spend a rare evening at home relaxing, and catching up on the latest episode of “House.” Unfortunately, the Kanye music next door has reached an obnoxious volume, and his 6 a.m. Friday alarm looms closer and closer. To top it all off, Mr. Funhater then looks out of the window only to see a lost college student trampling the flower bed he so carefully and painstakingly planted over the weekend. At this point, the story simply cannot end well.

However, I tell this hypothetical story not because I am trying to conflict over the student and city roles by highlighting their almost non-existent relationship, but because I am a student myself, I am beginning to realize there are two sides to every story. So before you head out into your weekend festivities and trample the rest of Mr. Funhater’s carefully planted tulips and hyacinths, remember that we are not the only ones trying to live peacefully in this small, historical town. Most importantly, remember that when you are in the working world yourself, you should avoid living within a 20-miles of any college campus — that’s just common sense.

Dasha Godunova is a Confusion Corner columnist and may have at one time known, witnessed or been the flowerbed-trampling college student in question. All hypothetically, of course.

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  • Dasha Godunova