Plastered on the pages of the College’s viewbook and echoed by the administration and students alike is the notion that William & Mary and the community are one. Be it through helping those less advantaged than ourselves or by renting a house off Harrison Street, students of the College involve themselves in the day-to-day heartbeat of this town in one way or another.
Last Wednesday night, that heartbeat picked up a few paces.
In an unprecedented move, three more William & Mary students, Luther Lowe, Serene Alami, and Rob Forrest, declared themselves candidates for the Williamsburg City Council election to be held this May. They joined student Seth Saunders who had declared himself previously. It is believed that Williamsburg is one of the first college towns in the country that has seen the emergence of students as City Council candidatesâ€”let alone the prospect of undergraduates controlling a majority of the city’s governing body.
So if that isn’t reason enough to consider donning any paraphernalia to come from your fellow students, here’s something else to think about: only those considered legal residents of the City of Williamsburg will have the chance to cast their ballot in favor of our peers. That leaves a good many of us out of the picture…or does it?
While these candidates are bright no doubt, they can’t win this election alone. With a substantial differential between the median age of the permanent residency and students, this race is no lock for these students. Incumbents and those with more experience in the public sector will begin with an upper-hand, but one that can be overcome if we all step up to the plate.
For those who have learned the ins and outs of our political system in the confines of Morton and even for those who have not, we can make the difference in this race. By proudly supporting our fellow students, campaigning on their behalf and engaging in dialogue with the residents of Williamsburg, we can help these candidates appeal to the Williamsburg electorate.
Furthermore, all four candidates have expressed the need not only to focus on issues that impact students of the College, but public safety and elementary education as well. As many of us have spent time volunteering and getting involved in both arenas, we have the chance to provide student candidates with valuable feedback and suggestions for improvement. Collectively, we have the means to show that not only do we come to William & Mary to get a great education, but to involve ourselves and work for the general well-being of a place we will call home for at least four years.
Plenty has been said about the divisions between residents and students, be it the enforcement of housing codes or the filing of noise complaints. But this campaign is not necessarily about those issues in particular; it is about reaffirming that the College and the community live in tandem. As stewards of this belief, candidates and students alike can set out to prove that what is in the best interest of long-time Williamsburg residents and students of the College is a strong partnership, not a sporadic rivalry.
Four ambassadors of the College have picked up the heartbeat of this town. Now it is up to us, the students, to make sure it doesn’t die out.