Staff Editorial: Historic Year at Mary Washington
It’s been an exciting year of transition at UMW, and here at the Bullet, we’ve tried to keep up with all the changes. From ushering in a new president to defining the school’s future via the redesigned Master Plan, the Mary Washington community has witnessed some landmark moments in the school’s histor
Back in August, students moved into Eagle Landing, the school’s new $60.5 million apartment building.
Then in September, the school weathered a decreased state budget with a 9 percent tuition increase that was significantly lower than many other Virginia universities. Meanwhile school officials broke ground at the site of UMW’s third campus for the new Dahlgren Center for Education and Research.
In October, the Bullet published a story on 15 students who were arrested by Fredericksburg police in a massive drug sting that incited 150 comments on the Bullet’s website and a heated response from the student body. The results of the drug sting have not yet been decided for each of the individuals involved.
For Homecoming, Giant Productions booked rapper Wale to perform at the Battlegrounds, which, along with a fireworks display, drew the ire of many local residents who resented the noise level as well as the rapper’s lyrical content. The complaints led to President Hurley publishing an apology letter in the Free Lance-Star.
In November, the Historic Preservation Department voiced their concerns over the redesigned Master Plan, organizing a student protest in front of Seacobeck Hall to oppose its proposed demolition. President Hurley responded to these concerns, organizing a committee to reassess the Master Plan and reevaluate the historic value of several buildings on campus, including Seacobeck. This was a year-long struggle for the campus. The campus center, which was originally supposed to replace Seacobeck, is now slated to take Chandler Hall’s spot on campus.
In December, the former UMW student who was the victim of the brutal 2008 rape in the parking deck sued the university for $10 million. However, by April the suit was hitting dead ends and the victim was given 21 days to revise the suit. During the same month, the university also spent $16,000 on “fighting eagle” logos to adorn College Avenue.
In February, multiple Freedom Riders visited the campus in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Freedom Rides, a key step in the Civil Rights Movement. The festivities continued through March, when PBS screened a related documentary on campus. The commemoration will last through the end of this semester, with two congressman and former Freedom Rides speaking at the commencements. Senior Charles Reed will also partake in the May 8 commemorative Freedom Ride, which will stop on campus in its tribute journey to the Deep South.
In March, the university was touched by tragedy when one of its student’s lost his sister to the natural disaster in Japan. The UMW community responded with fundraisers in her honor and Jeff Anderson told his sister’s story in an article in the Bullet.
As the school year wound down, English professor Claudia Emerson won the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and was inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Writers. As school’s Anderson Center construction nears completion, the boardwalk connecting the Route 3 bridge to campus is slated to come down.
Just like Seacobeck’s food, we get better every year.