The College of William and Mary boasts a highly engaged student body, but its student involvement admittedly has a few blind spots. For instance, even as international service trips are overwhelmed with applicants, many at this school are not familiar with the names of Williamsburg City Council members. For over a year now, Students for a Better Williamsburg has been working to correct this discrepancy, and if you have not yet taken notice of their efforts, it is time to do so.
The problem they wish to help solve is significant. On the SBW website, the group asserts that students are Williamsburg’s “largest and most underrepresented voting bloc.” As a result, we live under such unfriendly legislation as the three-person housing rule and the current noise ordinance — which by its letter is about as strict as they come. The tensions created while arguing over these laws then spill out into other areas of life, polarizing the community and freezing town-gown relations.
But despite the stakes, student efforts at the polls have always lagged — and not simply because local elections tend to be scheduled at inconvenient times such as the end of exams, or because we only recently finished reeling from an intentional disenfranchisement campaign. More than anything else, students must care more.
SBW hopes that if students are better informed, they will care. To this end, SBW has begun hosting on-campus meet-and-greets with local and state officials and candidates. At these events students are well-positioned to make sure their perspective is heard, and very effective dialogue has already been achieved.
The ultimate SBW goal is to elect a student to the City Council. In the meantime, the organization will help identify and support pro-student candidates and pressure those on the other side of the aisle to come around.
This will be a long struggle, but we would like to see few things more than complete success in these areas. We wish them the best with these efforts.