Lindley Estes covers the University of Mary Washington for and The Free Lance-Star. You can email her at 
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A primer for your freshman year at UMW

Welcome to the University of Mary Washington, Eaglets. You’re entering a campus with a storied history in a town with even more history. Here’s what you need to know about your first year in Fredericksburg:

Student bench sitting.

Student bench sitting.

Bench sitting

Bench siting is a Mary Washington tradition. Whether you choose to camp out on one of the many wooden benches along campus walk or kick back in one of the many Adirondack chairs in one of UMW’s many green spaces, taking time out and people watching is a must on nice days.

Dean Rucker on Halloween.

Dean Rucker on Halloween.

Dean Rucker

Dean Cedric Rucker is everywhere on the UMW campus. You can find him chatting with students any and everywhere, serving up midnight breakfasts before exams, and on Halloween he breaks out his famous Winnie-the-Pooh suit. He’s not just a campus fixture, he’s a campus treasure.

Kyle Allwine, an alum who works in the admissions department, is a Goat. But Dean Rucker, also an alum, graduated in a Devil year. Courtesy of UMW

Kyle Allwine, an alum who works in the admissions department, is a Goat. But Dean Rucker, also an alum, graduated in a Devil year.

 Devil v. Goat Day

One of UMW’s odder traditions. Annually even-year class students (Goats) compete against odd-year class students (Devils) to be top of the school. Check out more about the tradition here.





An aerial view of Fredericksburg, and UMW in the distance.


The campus up on the hill can feel like a bubble sometimes. But venture downtown for coffee at Hyperion, see if you can find great used book finds at Riverby Books and grab lunch at one of the many restaurants. We’re all happy to have you here!

This is red pepper gouda soup from the Underground. Know it.

This is red pepper gouda soup from the Underground. Know it.

 Let’s talk about the food

There is a soup in the Underground that is regarded as the most valuable commodity on campus. It’s called red pepper gouda and it’s TASTY. Line up early for lunch on Wednesday in the Underground to get a serving before they run out – and they inevitably always do.


The author is a Sammy fan.

The author is a Sammy fan.

 Sammy D. Eagle

Sammy is your mascot. Created just a few years ago, Sammy stirs up school spirit at events and randomly on campus walk (and sometimes gives out free t-shirts!). Seek him out, give him a high-five (high-wing?) or a hug.




The name change was controversial.

Your university used to be a college 

UMW became a university in 2004. Before then it was Mary Washington College. Speaking of names, your campus weekly newspaper used to be called The Bullet. The face of your campus has changed a lot in recent years with the addition of new buildings and the renovation of old ones. Take some time to learn the history of your new home, which is more than a century old. Check out this student-created blog, UMW Then & Now and get inspired to create your own projects.

You'll graduate before you know it!

You’ll graduate before you know it!

College will go by in a flash, but the Internet is here forever

Don’t make Natatia Bledsoe write about you.



It didn't always look this good.

It didn’t always look this good.

Eagle Village used to be a discount store called Roses where you could buy really cheap stuff you probably didn’t need

The shopping center formerly known as Park N’ Shop has come a long way in the last five years.


Hurley competing in "Dancing with the Fredericksburg Stars"

Hurley competing in “Dancing with the Fredericksburg Stars”

 President Hurley can dance

He’s an award-winning dancer, actually. And chances are his moves are better than yours.


What do you think, devil or goat?

What do you think, devil or goat?

 Years ago, Judge Reinhold was in your shoes

The actor, who you probably remember as the step-dad in The Santa Clause and who played himself in Arrested Development, is an alumnus. You are walking in illustrious footsteps, Eaglets.


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  • Steve Cassinoooo

    Oh, and another thing,


    Look up for a change, remove your anti-social bubble and look both ways.

    Be alert to your surroundings.

    While vehicles should stop for all pedestrians, some do not.

  • frank

    Also, remember not to have any fun in downtown Fredericksburg…you will be shunned by the residents for being young.

    • Steve Cassinoooo

      1) FW Sullivans
      2) Otter House
      3) Fatty J’s
      4)Can’t forget that Bar and Grill on Sophia St on the river across from the parking garage that was purchased by the city for $2 million dollars to make it into a “park”

      All were semi-good watering holes until their closures. Some by force, others by choice. Downtown residents shun fun!!

    • frank

      oh yeah, I forgot those as well….I guess they always have the over priced wine shop/bar they could go to…..

  • Sterling 30

    No matter how hungry you may get, never never ever walk to the McDonald’s.
    Carry mace. Or a stun gun.
    You’ll thank me later.