By MEGHAN GRAHAM
The University Mary Washington was founded in 1908, so it is not exactly a new institution. So, residents of Fredericksburg beware: if you don’t want to be bothered by college neighbors that might get a little rowdy, do not live in College Heights.
The Fredericksburg City Council met on Nov. 22 to discuss a recent complaint of nuisance in the area, specifically in reference to residences of UMW students. Grievances included noise, trash and the biggest offenders: weeds. The Free Lance-Star reported that of the nine non-apartment residences pinpointed as nuisance residences, only four were college houses. However, the public continues to characterize UMW students as party animals scheming to blast their music, drink copious amounts of beer and let their weeds overgrow.
But let’s face the facts here: UMW is not a party school. There is no greek life and we don’t spend our weekends torching couches. Yes, we might hold a few house parties, but what else are we supposed to do on Friday and Saturday nights? Instead of focusing on the problems they have with UMW and its students, Fredericksburg should be thankful for how the university benefits their beloved community.
UMW offers jobs, business for local establishments, as well as great opportunities for residents to be a part of the culture on-campus.
It takes a lot of people to run a successful university, and Fredericksburg has provided employees for UMW to do so. In return, UMW provides them with a paycheck, something a lot of people don’t have these days because of our shriveling economy. And with the University constantly growing, the need for jobs also does. The UMW foundation will even be opening a hotel in 2013 in Eagle Village. This new business is sure to require a hefty staff that unemployed Fredericksburg residents will be ecstatic to fill.
Also, according to the school website, UMW has about 4,000 students. These students need food, clothes, coffee and beer to survive, and the businesses of Fredericksburg are more than willing to provide these items. They also provide them to the thousands of prospective students that come to visit every year with their parents, the alumni that return for homecoming every fall, and the cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors, brothers and sisters that attend graduation every spring.
The tourists that just want to stop by Fredericksburg to see what is considered one of the most beautiful campuses in the country have to eat, too. These Fredericksburg business owners can take our money, but they turn around and complain about the very same people? Something just doesn’t seem right.
It’s not like we don’t include them in our little community. Fredericksburg residents are always invited to on-campus events, from orchestra concerts, to school productions like “Rent,” and the Multi-Cultural Fair. Even when there isn’t an event happening, it isn’t unusual to see a local taking a stroll through our picturesque campus with their dog.
So before you pick up that phone to make a noise complaint about your neighbor that might be playing his music a little too loud, think about your favorite downtown restaurant. Would it still be afloat if it weren’t for the college students? And remember the last time you walked down Campus Walk? Without those same students paying tuition, renovations and upkeep would not be possible.
It was probably just a few years ago that you were in college yourselves and I’m sure you weren’t a perfect neighbor. Just keep in mind: on the week after finals we might get a little loud, so cut us some slack. Try knocking on the door and asking us to turn down the music instead of involving the police. Hey, you never know, you might be rewarded with a delicious Natty Light.