This year has been anything but quiet for UMW and the Bullet. Amid record snowstorms and shifting administrations, the Bullet had an avalanche of university news.
With over 19,000 visits to our Web site this semester, the university was kept informed daily on the latest in presidential machinations and Board of Visitor decisions.
The semester started quietly, though. We reported on the construction of the bridge over Route 1 and the changes to housing policy. The calmness was short lived.
February brought record snowfalls to Fredericksburg, shutting down campus and almost halting the Bullet. With editors stranded and classes cancelled, the Bullet managed to get an edition on the newsstands.
A few weeks later, the Bullet was hit by another storm—a Friday night phone call announcing that Judy Hample was resigning, effective June 30. This was a big problem since we did not have a print issue that week due to midterms and Spring Break.
The Bullet editors responded to one of the most difficult weeks of the semester with a four-page special edition that captured the community’s response. With great cohesion, the editors collected revealing quotes from former presidents and deans, as well as getting the first interview with Hample after she announced the resignation. The viewpoints section was filled with angry responses and tough questions about the future, as well as a timeline showing the last eight presidents.
The excitement continued as Hample announced that she would step down three months earlier than planned.
Amid the chaos, the University reversed course on a decision to withhold phone records related to an emergency report Hample filed with campus police. After the Bullet filed an information request and was denied twice, we contacted the Student Press Law Center to seek legal advice. The University released the video and phone call to the Bullet in March.
The next few weeks brought about a much-needed change in administration and mood at the university. Hurley was named as acting president, then named as the president in less than a month.
The Bullet reported that Khalil Yazdi, the vice president for information technologies, had been investigated for not appropriately following Virginia laws when purchasing computer software. As one of Hurley’s first decisions as acting president, Yazdi was demoted. Yazdi resigned a week later.
All of this news has attracted over 10,000 new visitors to our Web site this semester, and the Bullet hopes to continue attracting new readers. This semester we had readers as far away as Madagascar, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia, as well as readers from every state in the United States. Last week, the Bullet won an award for ‘Outstanding Web site’ through the Office of Student Activities and Community Services.
With a new administration in place and already noticeable changes at UMW, the Bullet will continue updating the campus next year. Good luck with final exams and the Bullet will be back in August.