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Fredericksburg City Beat

This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.

Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or pgould@freelancestar.com. Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or rsidersky@freelancestar.com.

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‘We’re here to have a conversation’

University of Mary Washington students and Fredericksburg residents want to improve their relationship.

That much was clear Wednesday night when the two groups — along with a panel of city and university officials — met at a town hall style meeting, organized by the UMW Student Government Association.

The panel consisted of some city officials and some UMW officials. It was: UMW President Rick Hurley, Vice-President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Doug Searcy, Associate Vice-President and Dean of Student Life Cedric Rucker, Fredericksburg Police Chief David Nye, Fredericksburg Police Public Information Officer Natatia Bledsoe,  Fredericksburg Senior Planner Erik Nelson and Meredith Beckett, president of the College Heights Civic Association.

Relations between the college and the city have been tense recently after several complaints about residents of College Heights resulted in the City Council approving a public nuisance ordinance.

Hurley told the students that while he wants them to have a fun college experience, they need to be respectful of the surrounding community.

Nye explained that there is an increased police presence in the College Heights area this semester as a result of the high number of complaints.

Bledsoe explained to the students how when they are arrested, it becomes  public information and something that will follow them even after they leave UMW.

After introductions, students asked the panel questions for about 25 minutes. Topics ranged from the possibility of UMW off-campus housing being made available (it’s not going to be), to students’ rights with police, why behavior off-campus can have academic consequences, and neighborly relations–when to approach neighbors both for students and city residents, among other things.

Each member of the panel told the students how much they enjoy the university’s presence in the community and that they know that not all students are causing problems in College Heights.

The dialogue was just one of the steps the involved parties have taken to improve community relations recently.

On Thursday, the Town and Gown Committee, which consists of city officials, university officials, students, and neighbors of the college will meet. This will be the first meeting of the committee since the ordinance was passed.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/citybeat/2012/02/22/were-here-to-have-a-conversation/