By MOLLY SULLIVAN
The Fredericksburg community’s dissatisfaction with University of Mary Washington students has been a pervasive feature in local news, which is not unusual for residents of an active, often inebriated college town. However, recent articles have gone too far, meddling in the private affairs of students who seemingly have done no direct harm to fellow Fredericksburg residents. One local writer in particular, journalist Dan Telvock, has taken a disconcerting interest in the private matters of students’ personal lives. Having published articles in the Fredericksburg Patch, such as “Policing College Sleepovers Was Quest of College Heights Local,” and “UMW Athletes Have Direct Connection to Fredericksburg Nuisance Violations,” it is evident that some disgruntled locals have become alarmingly involved in the personal weekend matters of Mary Washington students.
Telvock’s Feb. 22 article regarding Mary Washington’s athletes’ involvement in nuisance violations states that 15 out of the 23 recent nuisance charges took place at the homes of athletes. While statistics such as these are objective, the article spitefully singles out individual athletes as it cultivates an overall negative reputation for all athletes, involved or uninvolved. It also fails to consider non-athlete involvement in said nuisance charges. However, the real issue with the article is the lack of respect for students’ privacy.
One particular home is the stress of the article, resided in by four male Mary Washington students, two of whom are athletes. Not only is the address of this home specified, but also a digital photo of the home is featured alongside the article on fredericksburgpatch.com. Prior charges and details of the recent nuisance charge are reported, including court costs, fines and verdicts. The article continues to report specific details of other students who have faced charges in the recent academic year, creating the sense that specific students are responsible for all questionable acts that take place in areas surrounding the university. The fact of the matter is that the students mentioned in the article cannot create a significant noise problem on their own; other individuals are involved yet Telvock seems only to be interested in assigning blame to specific tenants of homes.
Telvock’s second article, also published Feb. 22, reports the issue of visitors spending the night at a specific College Heights home with Mary Washington student residents. The issue addressed specifically in the article is the parking problem that arises from overnight visitors, but yet again, disgruntled Fredericksburg residents took the issue too far. Telvock reported that in November 2011, a Fredericksburg resident, Rodger Provo, attempted to convince the city to make efforts to prevent overnight stays. Telvock undoubtedly defends Provo’s efforts, singling out specific homes of Mary Washington students.
Again, this article is entirely too invasive of student matters and one can easily infer that the real issue is not with the overnight visitors, but with the fact that the overnight visitors are at the homes of Mary Washington students. While students are responsible for some community issues, most can agree that residents of Fredericksburg must accept the fact that this is a college town. College students live here and engage in stereotypical “college” activities on a regular basis. As residents of this community, we must strive to be responsible and respectful of our neighbors. As students, however, we inevitably lead lives that differ from those of our neighbors.