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The Blue & Gray Press | August 25, 2019

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Staff Editorial: No Need for Hurley to Apologize for Obscenities

On Homecoming weekend, the rapper Wale performed at the Battlegrounds as the major entertainment for the UMW student body.

The rapper’s concert rubbed some in the Fredericksburg area the wrong way, as complaints came in from local residents griping about the noise level and the profanity coming from the concert site.

The angry response from residents in the surrounding area caused President Rick Hurley to issue an apology for the noise and vulgarity of the concert in a letter he wrote to the Free Lance-Star. But an apology to the Fredericksburg community wasn’t necessary.

The concert was far from an out of control rage; the noise level was closer to that of a loud house party than a deafening night club; and it wasn’t as if the show went on to the wee-hours of the morning, as Wale was off the stage by 9 p.m.

So what exactly did UMW have to be sorry for?

It’s not as if these sorts of concerts are commonplace, as it was merely a special event to celebrate the Homecoming weekend.

Look at larger schools, such as Virginia Tech and UVA, and what their surrounding communities have to deal with on a regular basis.

The huge sporting events that take place from fall through spring, with tens of thousands of people flooding to football stadiums and thousands more filling basketball arenas.

Such events are far more disturbing than this small-campus concert that the Fredericksburg community had to endure.

Furthermore, the concert wasn’t even an exclusive UMW event.
The University made the concert open to the public, free of charge.

Wale played a similar concert the following night at Virginia State University, and the tickets for that event cost $30 a piece.

Therefore UMW was actually providing a service to the Fredericksburg community, so why the uproar?

In President Hurley’s apology, he stated that if he had known of the profanity of the artist that he would have had the event held indoors.

However, while the administration may not be familiar with Wale’s work, it should have been a safe assumption that a rapper would most likely have some profanity in his music.

Hurley told the Free Lance-Star, “If there’s a crowd-friendly band like Train, maybe an outdoor concert would be appropriate.”

The student body shouldn’t be forced to suffer through a washed-up, over-40 band to appease a picky local community who can’t accept that occasionally a concert may take place in a college town.


  1. Alison

    I agree with most of this, but I feel the need to post a correction. Saying that the concert was “as loud as a house party” is a vast understatement. I was on campus and I could hear it clearly outside of the underground. I can never hear house parties that far. Also, while I think neighbors overreacted a bit, considering this is a rare occurrence and that it was free to the public, you have to understand that 9 is really late for children, many of whom live in houses near the stadium. It can be extremely hard for parents whose baby or small child has their sleep thrown off by a concert, and it’s doubly vexing considering the profanity used.

  2. Concerned Commenter

    Interesting argument, but (IMO) the Bullet staff has missed the main point. (Also it’s 2 AM, so time for rambling)

    The problem is that the people complaining about this don’t see Fredericksburg as a college town–or, more accurately, they see it as the college town for UMW in the 1950s.They want the UMW of the good ol’ days back (see the recent articles in the FLS about this sentiment), when UMW just churned out nice, proper ladies who would never ever curse at anything, and any fact that reminds them that those days have passed just makes them angry.

    There’s sections of Charlottesville and Blacksburg that, I’m sure, aren’t happy about the noise and drunken antics that come with being parked right next to UVA and VT, but the fact of the matter is that those cities would be economically devastated without those institutions. To some extent, they have to accept living next to a college or losing a large percent of their economic lifeblood. (Also, note that the football teams provide those towns with something to be proud of–what do we have, rugby and soccer? And people ask why no one besides UMW sells UMW merch…)

    Not so with Fredericksburg–we may be here for most of the year, but our money is mostly limited to Central Park and Old Town. The complainers have other things they can point to as being the main sources of income for Fredericksburg–like the Civil War battlefields, or the increased growth of that damn NoVa sprawl. For them, UMW is almost superfluous in their conception of the economics or culture of Fredericksburg–and it’s superfluous, they see no reason to just accept the “college town” issues without a fight.

    Unless UMW is somehow keeping the entire town from going insolvent (which I somehow doubt), and even if it somehow is, there isn’t really any easy way to convince them this kind of a homecoming performance, or anything else that doesn’t fit with their conception of what UMW should be, isn’t some kind of young punk affront to everything that the college once stood for.

    (Also: there’s a c in obscenities. Boy I hope that didn’t make it into the paper)

  3. Dr. Kennedy

    Well, it’s good to see between the Bullet and the Free Lance-Star, President Hurley can’t catch a break. An apology is never misguided when others are offended by what is perceived as inappropriate behavior. Although Hurley was clearly in a ‘no-win’ situation, he made the effort to reach out to the community. I think you’re missing the point he was trying to make; that is, President Hurley understands both sides of this argument. Students want to have loud, profanity laced bands because that’s what they like. Families around the campus want to not have to have their windows shaken by a concert with profanity laced bands. What’s the solution? Have a venue on campus INSIDE, so no one will hear it. It’s the only way to satisfy both reasonable desires. President Hurley was tactfully trying to reassure the community that he understands their concerns.

    To the above comment, you are aware, I hope, that Central Park and Old Town pay into the Fredericksburg City tax base, since they are in the corporate limits?

    Dr. K.

  4. Roy F. Gratz

    What I don’t understand about rap music like this is why it is popular among the female students or even why they attend these concerts. I’ll admit that I don’t know anything about the lyrics other than what I read in the Free Lance-Star, but, if they are accurate, why would any woman stay at a venue where the entertainer and crowd are chanting f*** the b****? If students like the beat and the rhythm of the rhyming, fine. I’m sure there are other groups and entertainers who can do rap without the misogyny and degradation of women inherent in that chant. Does anyone think there might be a relationship between these lyrics and the Red Flag Campaign currently underway on campus?

  5. Concerned Commenter

    @ Dr. Kennedy–Well, I didn’t think they were in their own special zone–just within the City of Fredericksburg, I would say that UMW students definitively have an impact. On the other hand, I would say that those areas are not totally dependent on student money to stay solvent–Central Park a bit more so than Old Town.

    Granted, this is just my speculation/gut feelings about the area–I know that UMW students provide some large amount of money to Fredericksburg, but I don’t know how much it would stack up against, say, the money brought by tourists to the battlefields. (Additionally, I would say that UMW doesn’t feel like a key component to the identity of Fredericksburg, paricularly if I were to prefer a certain idealized version of UMW to the one that’s hear now, but that’s more of a touchy-feely sort of thing.)

    Additionally, having an indoor venue would be helpful (and to be fair, there are definitely some good uses for that center), but I would also contend that some of the same people who are writing editorials for the Free-Lance Star would be offended by Wale’s content whether he was located inside a center or outside.

    Essentially–You’re completely right that Hurley’s apology in of itself was (if nothing else) a good gesture, but I feel in trying to please both sides it doesn’t really please either one. There is some room for accommodation between both sides (especially because the college population is essentially transitory and has a short attention span), but this incident is also emblematic of the fact that there’s a cultural divide causing friction here.

    (As to rap…that’s a whole separate can of worms.)