by THE WEEKLY RINGER EDITORIAL BOARD
Following the relocation of classes and offices from Monroe Hall, The Weekly Ringer was ousted from our editorial space in the Mansion on the corner of College Ave. and William St. to provide a space for professors’ relocated offices.
Although this is not the first time the newspaper has changed locations, our move reflects the University’s lack of stability in providing appropriate and comfortable spaces for students who were promised such when they toured. From Ball Circle being roped off and signs posted advising students from sitting on the grass to the recent closures in George Washington and Monroe halls, the university experience that once seemed fruitful is growing mold—sometimes literally.
At the beginning of the 2022 fall semester and after years of being housed in the Clubhouse—a building located in the courtyard area of the UMW Apartments—The Weekly Ringer had to move due to water damage and mold concerns.
Editors like Callie Harkins and Norah Walsh who were on the editorial board at the time reported feeling sick after leaving the Clubhouse after spending hours formatting the newspaper for publication.
Leading up to the move, the editorial board found themselves sitting on towels in the moisture-saturated room. Faculty and administrators were made aware of the issue, and the editors were offered a dehumidifier.
Throughout her emails, Jess Kirby—the editor-in-chief at the time—emphasized the issues in the Clubhouse and the concerns about mold. In response, UMW Facilities inspected the building, identified a leak and planned to replace the ceiling; they did not confirm that the marks on the wall were mold.
In an email to Kirby and other staff members who were involved, Nolan Akau, the director of UMW Facilities Maintenance Services, described a yellow-brown “discoloration” in the areas that the editors specified, as well as “some black between the floor and the wall.”
To mitigate the issue, Akau suggested that UMW Facilities spray mildew stain remover on the areas of concern, adding that “with known water intrusion, if it is mold it would eventually come back.”
On Sept. 19, 2022, Akau wrote in an email that several of the Clubhouse walls were located underground. The work to clear the ground from the outside of the building was delegated to a contractor, and Akau explained the necessary steps to rectify the issues.
He wrote, “The grounds around the outside of the walls need to be trenched out, the outside sealed, dirt replaced and then replace the inside walls from the floor about [four to five feet] up.”
At first, the editorial board moved to the HCC, which was less than ideal, as there was little privacy and the assigned computer lab did not feature any space to be collaborative. Then, we gained access to the Mansion, where we occupied one room on the second level of the building every Wednesday evening to format the newspaper.
Having a dedicated space that isn’t treated like a temporary situation for the newspaper, is vital not only for us to format the paper, but also to the University and the Fredericksburg area alike. As we report on campus news, we also help inform the larger Fredericksburg narrative, as UMW constitutes a significant force in the area.
Our abrupt relocation came with no previous notice about the Clubhouse being available for our return to the space, and the transition occurred in the middle of our news cycle, causing concern for the editorial board in terms of publishing the paper on time.
Classes may be canceled or put on Zoom, but the news cycle is unrelenting, and our space is sacred, for it allows us to be able to do what we love and improve as journalists in the process.
This staff editorial was led by Norah Walsh.