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The Blue & Gray Press | May 28, 2018

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Staff Editorial: Activism on Campus Reaches New Heights Among Students

In a staff editorial on Nov. 3, the Bullet lamented the lack of informed activism among a current generation of college students who grew up weaned on the irony-heavy entertainment-based reporting styles of the Colbert Report and the Daily Show.

Turns out that recently, at least on the UMW campus, students have proven that stereotype to be mostly  fiction.

Although activism on a college campus is nothing new, one reason for this semester’s escalating presence of student voices might have something to do with the current administration’s willingness to actually engage these voices in a dialogue, a trait that hasn’t always been a given with previous administrations.

Back in October, UMW sophomore Ryley Trahan organized a rally that drew around 100 students to Dodd Auditorium to protest potential tuition hikes and drew attention from national media outlets, including the Huffington Post.

Whether or not you agree with their campaigning strategies, the College Republicans certainly came out in full force this election season and made their voice heard around campus.

When the administration unveiled a massive plan to overhaul the campus earlier this semester, students in the department of historic preservation organized a rally outside of Seacobeck to protest the administration’s proposed demolition of the building as part of the new Master Plan.

In addition, residents of UMW’s international living center are protesting the relocation of their current living community under the Master Plan by printing t-shirts that read “Save Framar,” a residence hall that is currently set to be demolished under the proposed plan.

To the administration’s credit though, for all of the criticism that has been lobbied at the Master Plan and the proposed tuition hikes, the administration hasn’t appeared to be in a rush to make any drastic decisions without at least considering feedback from the campus community first.

When former President Judy Hample proposed implementing a $25 million Strategic Plan last January that included enrollment growth as well as multi-year tuition increases to combat state budget deficits, the campus was mostly silent.

The difference here is transparency, and for what it’s worth, this administration appears committed to communicating their intentions with the campus body.

No matter what they end up proposing though, change is bound to invite controversy.  If you’re upset with the proposed future of this university, don’t just complain to your roommates.

Leave a comment on the Master Plan page of the school website.  Write a letter to the editor.  If all else fails, take your concerns directly to the president.  We’re lucky to finally have one who’s willing to listen.