Colonial Williamsburg must stay fee-free

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I can still recall my first visit to the College of William and Mary; I was walking around confusion corner near Merchants Square on a sunny day. I was suddenly attracted by the beautiful, seamless connection between the College and Colonial Williamsburg: you can enter one of the most beautiful, historic towns simply by crossing the street from campus. As a history student, I could not express how excited I was to know that I would be able to study in such a vibrant learning community where I could walk out of my room and have unlimited access to a living museum. The recent news about fencing off Colonial Williamsburg and charging an entrance fee has truly disheartened me.

Students in this elite college who can afford the extremely high tuition will have the privilege of free entrance, whereas people who worry about their daily necessities will be charged.

This idea of fencing off Duke of Gloucester Street achieves nothing but promoting elitism. We as college students will still enjoy free access to Colonial Williamsburg even after the street is fenced off. Take a second and think about the whole idea: students in this elite college who can afford the extremely high tuition will have the privilege of free entrance, whereas people who worry about their daily necessities will be charged. The situation seems ironic to me. We are now committed to fight for social equality, and the common solution to this problem, as we all believe, is education. Nonetheless, everything is pointless if we start charging for just walking in this great education resource.

This is a vicious cycle that will only further turn people away from their interests, not only in Colonial Williamsburg, but at historic relics in general.

It is not going to help the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in the long run either. When an enterprise is facing financial crises, it can either improve its competitiveness by promoting business and improving overall product quality, or it can exploit consumers. There are multiple ways for the Foundation to resolve its financial problem, and it simply chose the most irrational and unsustainable one. This is a vicious cycle that will only further turn people away from their interests, not only in Colonial Williamsburg, but at historic relics in general. It is to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s advantage to think seriously about why it is making fewer profits instead of taking something away from consumers.

In a more realistic sense, restricting pedestrian access to the streets would directly influence us, students of the College. There are many shops in Colonial Williamsburg that provide student discounts, and we tend to eat out in Colonial Williamsburg when we get tired of the dining hall food. By fencing off the main street at Colonial Williamsburg, it would be extremelyThus, they would have no choice but to increase the prices or, worst of all, even shut down their businesses.

Silence implies tacit consent. The College maintains a strong working relationship with Colonial Williamsburg. The school is responsible for speaking up for the whole college community and encouraging the Foundation to think about alternative solutions instead of fencing off the whole DoG street, which is to neither side’s advantage.

I hope that what waits for students and visitors in the future is the harmonious, coexistent and unrestricted situation between the College and Colonial Williamsburg, instead of the lifeless and solid fences which separate people from attaining knowledge and pursuing equality.

Contact Alfred Ouyang at souyang@email.wm.edu.