A Conversation with Katherine Rowe PAGE 7
Looking Ahead: Public School Redistricting PAGE 11
Volume I, Issue 1
Memories of Sarajevo Photo Journal PAGE 29
Belonging. A Night at the Meridian Entering the Subculture of William and Maryâ€™s Music Scene page 15
THE COLLEGE OF WILLIAM AND MARY MAGAZINE.FLATHATNEWS.COM EDITOR@MAGAZINE.FLATHATNEWS.COM @THEFLATHAT
WHAT IS ON THE COVER? Designed by Angela Vasishta â€˜21, this artistic rendering of the Meridian Coffee House illustrates a place of belonging for students at the College of William and Mary. As a venue for art and music, few other places on campus serve as a sanctuary for creative students. Come bask in the dreamy epicenter of Williamsburg nightlife with The Flat Hat Magazine...
5 7 11 15 19 29 33 37 42
Letter from the Editor Nia Kitchin ‘20
Katherine Rowe Anna Boustany ‘21
Public School Redistricting Nia Kitchin ‘20 and Leslie Davis ‘21
Night at The Meridian Gavin Aquin Hernández ‘22 and Carmen Honker ‘21
Submissions Ethan Brown ‘21, Abby Comey ‘22, Matthew Kortan ‘22, Ishaan Khandpur ‘21
Memories of Sarajevo Ethan Brown ‘21
Human Trafficking Adithi Ramakrishnan ‘22 and Emma Ford ‘22
Williamsburg Bar Reviews Maggie More ‘20
The Ampersand Matthew Kortan ‘22
Editor’s Note Dear all, Welcome to the inaugural edition of The Flat Hat Magazine! This issue has been in the works since early last spring when I proposed the idea to The Flat Hat staff during the Editor-in-Chief caucus. Since then it has been months of interviewing and writing and late nights spent designing. This magazine was created with the intention of providing a space for long form journalism and more interesting design components than a weekly newspaper can handle. The experience of spending months cultivating one story and learning how to package it in print and online is an essential part of any serious journalist’s repertoire. So, since the College of William and Mary does not have a journalism major, The Flat Hat has stepped in to fill this gap on campus. In this issue you can read about Katherine Rowe’s frisbee throwing techniques, the best bars in Williamsburg, what the police force is doing to help combat human trafficking, the PTA mafia at the WJCC middle and high schools and much more. Also, don’t forget to visit our website magazine.flathatnews.com to interact with our stories digitally and read digital features like our Williamsburg bus tour. I am incredibly pleased with how our first issue has turned out, and even more excited to see the next one. The people listed on the masthead of this issue stepped up and went above and beyond in producing this issue — it would not have happened without a single one of them.
Nia Kitchin The Flat Hat Magazine Editor-in-Chief email@example.com 5 | Flat Hat Magazine
Nia Kitchin ‘20 Editor-in-Chief
Ethan Brown ‘21 Managing Editor
Carmen Honker ‘21 Executive Editor
Gavin Aquin Hernández ‘22 Chief Design Editor/Webmaster
Anna Boustany ‘21
Claire Hogan ‘22
Adithi Ramakrishnan ‘22
Jamie Holt ‘22
Maggie More ‘20
Leslie Davis ‘21
Emma Ford ‘22
Matthew Kortan ‘22
Jae Chung ‘21
Zoë Connell ‘21
By Anna Boustany ‘21 / Photos by Jamie Holt ‘22
College President Katherine Rowe gives Boustany a tour of the Brafferton, talks protests and literature. Walking into the Brafferton at the College of William and Mary, it is clear that Rowe has already made her mark after just one year at the College. She points out the art that covers her walls, from an Auguste Rodin sculpture to calligraphy piece drawn by students. According to Rowe, each is equal in value. She speaks thoughtfully, clearly aware of her significance in the community. However, that thoughtfulness does not translate as snobbish or aloof, as showcased at the end of our interview when I asked her to teach me how to throw a frisbee correctly. Clad in business attire, she gladly took me outside to gently showcase the art of the forward flick. Here are excerpts from our conversation, edited for clarity. Anna Boustany: So, you’ve just finished your first year here. What is your high and your low and your Buffalo? Basically, what has the high point of this experience been, and what has the low point been? And Buffalo is just a weird or unique or special thing that doesn’t really fit in the first two categories. What would those be for you? Katherine Rowe: The high would be the students, and just being in a place where as the President I actually get to be with students, doing things with students like the president’s aides or any given group
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I think the high is this ethos of this campus that we are about intentionally making community together. That’s amazing.
of students, like the Spotswood Society which comes to the house and tours, and Student Assembly. Just that there is so much opportunity for real connection. And I’m thinking about that for next year as we do strategic planning. ... So, I want to talk about that. Also, I think the high is this ethos of this campus that we are about intentionally making community together. That’s amazing. My low would be humidity … And Buffalo would be the ampersand and just the coolness of thinking about what it means to have something iconic; that’s old and new simultaneously. I’m a Renaissance scholar. So of course, I love old orthography. And the ampersand used to be the twenty seventh letter of the alphabet. And so, when you’re using those older icons you know you’re thinking about the long span of time that you’ve always lived in. It’s also beautiful and elegant. AB: You’ve been at Carlton and other schools, so what stands out about the College to you? KR: Well there is something that I learned at Carlton that we have an enormous capacity here in the College environment which is the sense of intellectual community with faculty. So over 85 percent of our undergraduate students are doing research with faculty, that’s amazing, and the sense that there’s a
A Conversation community of thinking in process and we’re pushing the edge of knowledge together with faculty and student partners. That’s something that’s so powerful. And then, I’ve never been in a place where there’s undergraduate and graduate student commitment, so actually making community together was so front of mind. So, I’m thinking about that just after convocation yesterday and what it’s like to walk out on the portico and see those signs and see the sea of human beings, all convened deliberately and intentionally to welcome the new students. ... One of our Student Assembly leaders last year talking to the board about what makes William and Mary students distinctive said, “We take care of each other. Not just ourselves. We don’t always succeed. But we call each other in rather than calling each other out, when we’re not succeeding that’s something that we are doing.” This is so powerful, I think. How to make a community well is no longer obvious. We are rediscovering how to do that with a world changing so rapidly and where technology is changing so I love being in a place where that is what our students are dedicated to thinking about… AB: You live on campus and you get to interact with students, but obviously not everyone gets to come into the Brafferton. What would you want students to know most about what your job is, what you’re doing every day? KR: Like the students, I’m being a learner. So, it’s one of my most important roles is to be out and about in the community listening: listening to what’s the experience of students, with the experience that their parents experience and the alums, and the experience of the city council and neighbors and gathering that then trying to reflect what is the whole point, what is William and Mary in Williamsburg in Virginia, in the world. And how do I share that out? So, I’m often doing what I just did with you which is getting quotes from one group and sharing with another. When I’m with alums, or when I’m with community members, I’m often talking about who the students are and why they are so awesome and why you would want to know and be part of this community of students. And when I am with students I am often talking about alums, like bringing back Comstock to talk. So, I think of myself as trying to broach conversations that people who don’t know each other can hear each other. AB: Your first year here has also been the first year that the Wellness Center is open. What are some ways that you practice wellness through your work when you’re working or when you’re on vacation? KR: Lots of exercise, lots of sleep. Mindfulness work — so I meditate, and I often blend exercise that lets me be present and mindful. And time with friends. I’m pretty deliberate in building the sources of joy into my life so that I am renewed. And I love
being with young adults, so I’m actually in a really great job because I get recharged. I miss teaching. I will allow myself to teach, when we’re done with this campaign and I can’t wait. I’m already fantasizing. I have two potential ones right now.
I miss teaching. I will allow myself to teach when we’re done with this campaign and I can’t wait. I’m already fantasizing. I have two potential ones right now. AB: What’s your favorite class that you’ve ever taught? KR: That’s a course called “Milton and Dissent.” And it’s organized around this enormous epic poem “Paradise Lost” and his prose pamphlets, and some of our earliest ideas about democratic institutions come out from the thinking in the 17th century when Milton wrote “Areopagitica” which is against censorship of the press. It is the basis for some of our thinking about freedom of the press, freedom of expression in the United States and I pair that with a series of novels by a writer Phillip Pullman, Dark Materials is the trilogy. It’s young adult, but it’s really actually a very sustained philosophical and writerly engagement with Paradise Lost. So, we do those together, and we do three books of Paradise Lost and one novel and then another. And I love that course. I love it. I love thinking about Milton’s argument and poems as dissent is essential for the growth of a moral subject. He’s trying to cultivate a dissenting reader and that’s a crazy project no writers do. Most writers try to get you to agree with them. And he actually is trying to get, part of his project, is to cultivate a dissenting reader and I am fascinated by that project. I think that’s the core of growing up as a democratic subject. So that that’s my favorite class but then I’m fantasizing another new class that’s not ready for primetime. But it would take a group of students around the commonwealth, I’d think about where we might find partnerships that could help sort of springboard out of our new strategic plan. AB: That’s really special. So, another question about your first year is about some student activists, particularly Students United. Last year a student protest group called Students United held several protests around campus demanding that the school stop buying furniture made by prison labor. Several activists received disciplinary action from administration for their protests. That group wanted you to do certain things that you chose not to do. Can you talk me through a little bit of your
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Features reasoning for that? Why did you make the decisions that you did and how do you plan on working with student activists in the future? KR: That’s a great question. Thank you. I would say last year we had a good amount of activism, and that is to say lively normal frequent activism which is what you’d expect on a campus of young citizens in a democracy. And that’s important and valued for me. I have some principles that I use, that to me, go back to our core values: one is freedom of expression and that includes activism as an essential condition for learning, and it is a core value. As a state institution we uphold the Constitution. And we also, I think, uphold standards of being really well informed, respecting and cultivating multiple positions listening to those decisions. I’m really proud of the way at least last year the activism on this campus happened so I’m remembering one in the spring where a group called The Center for Bioethical Reform demonstrated at the College, and they were a very strongly pro-life group, with their goal to activate conflict on campus. In response, the pro-life and the pro-rights groups on campus got together. Administrators passed out pamphlets, hundreds of them on freedom of expression, and the two groups, effectively and respectfully together, articulated how we do that argument on this campus. And then the Flat Hat published those facing page opinion pieces and I felt like what you all were claiming was here’s how we do our dissent and conflict at William and Mary because we pride ourselves on that being a core part of our learning experience in democracy. So, I was so proud. We started the Committee on Freedom of Expression to look at our policies and those will be coming out this fall: policies on safety and security on campus and on how we use space and make it available for appropriate forms of activism and debate. And that’ll be really good to refresh those. There are students, faculty, administrators on that committee and I’m just excited to
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see what they come up with. I have some core principles that I use when I’m engaging with students. One is if you write to me respectfully I’ll answer. The second is I am a second day responder. And I’m trying to cultivate that stance on the campus which means gather information. Don’t assume that your initial understanding of what are the issues in play is actually complete. Pause to engage reflection and think critically. And so, with that group in particular I ask them do some homework. I said, how are your positions connected to the Prison Reform positions in the Commonwealth and in the country? Is this the most pressing set of issues? And if not, then talk to me about why these are the ones here. So, my interest was in a mutually learning in the process. And then, I seek to call in. That’s a William and Mary thing, call in, not calling out. And then to empower other leaders on campus to speak from their roles. So, if it’s a student’s affair matter — the VP for student affairs, if it’s a public safety matter — Chief Cheesebro. Those are the principles I’m coming in with when I’m asked to take a position on something. What I’m thinking about is where the position sits with William and Mary’s Mission: teaching learning and research. And I speak for — I’m everyone’s president. So, I speak for those core missions rather than for individual groups. AB: Could you clarify a little bit more, you said you asked the group to come in rather than call out. What did that mean for you? KR: That’s a kind of core practice that I want to work always and partner with students on which was what does it look like to call people in a way that respects a true conflict. I have my own mantra which is respect the conflict. To me that means first listen, then ask, with appreciative curiosity: what else do we need to know? And so, with that group I said tell me more about how this sits with the larger prison reform movement. Respecting the conflict also means
taking the time to hear that full picture, and convening people together in a way that allows for the full picture to be articulated with all the different perspectives that might be held by honorable people who disagree. And so, I flip to the story in the spring because it felt to me as if that was a moment where the conflict was respected here. Right, honorable people do disagree about the question of abortion. And this campus showed what it meant to respect the conflict. And the students led that. AB: Can you talk to me through how you’re getting students involved in the campaigns like the ones you were talking about?
I have my own mantra which is respect the conflict. To me that means first listen, then ask with appreciative curiosity... KR: Well, going back through my career my best work has been in partnership with students. It’s actually a principle of entrepreneurship that you go into the community of practice that you’re trying to design something for and you say tell me what you need. How do you understand what it is you do? What do you care about? And you see from that stems a partnership. So strategic planning is like it’s a design of a plan for the next 10 to 20 years for William and Mary and we have some big goals and how we marshal our resources to address those goals. That has to come out of the broad engagement of the community, particularly students. So, I’m thinking a lot about what we will be doing open sessions. Like we did for thinking for nine of them over the course of the year. Some will be broad. We’re going to kick off next week with Mission, Vision and Values. And then the process itself, strategic planning — some will be narrow focused on a particular thing that we’re interested in. But my biggest
question is: what’s the best way to engage students in being partners and thinking and imagining ways to respond to the biggest challenges and opportunities we face and to define those challenges and opportunities? I want us to come out of strategic planning with three to four really big claims we’re making on the most pressing issues that we are facing in that the world is facing. Give the example of conservation and environmental sustainability. We are an estuarine campus. What is William and Mary’s power to shape conservation and sustainability research learning policy here and in the world? So, we have a particular obligation as a campus in the Chesapeake to think about that question. I don’t know whether that’ll end up as a big macro challenge but it’s something along that order from where we are here and who we are here to where we are in the world that I’m really trying to think about in strategic planning. AB: So, to pivot a little bit I know you’re talking earlier about that you like to take quotes from students. KR: Yes. I’m listening to the way students talk about what matters. AB: Do you have an all-time favorite quote from anyone? KR: I think “we take care of each other” is really powerful. Really powerful. I love that I’m still resonating with the one that I heard really early on from the freshman class last year that came up with a tagline to recruit this year’s students which was: “join the tradition and make history.” So that sense of deep connection to a long past and excitement and a sense of duty towards the future. That’s the dual commitment of William and Mary and I find that really powerful. AB: Do you have a favorite tradition at the College? KR: Oh, so hard. It’s always the last one that I just did or the one I’m about to do. Right now, no question it’s Convocation, and move-in day was awesome. Maybe Yule Log. That’s a time that we take care of each other, coming together it’s a really dark and cold time of year. It’s stressful because of exams. We have hot chocolate and donuts and we cast our cares away symbolically into the fire and we sing together and we bring greetings to each other. And that’s that intentional community that I found so powerful. Brian Whitson: Yesterday you even recruited our speaker to join you in the new tradition of high-fiving the students. KR: Oh, I totally did. So, everyone in just the President’s office is like OK so you did the high five thing last year because you are new. No, I actually think I always do the high-five thing. To our new Provost, I was like look here’s how it’s going to be. You’re going to have to run, there’s a lot of hands to slap to make sure you’re seeing as many human beings as possible and making eye contact with the students. it’s really fun. And both of them came into it. So maybe that’s my current favorite, high fiving down the sunken gardens. I’m standing by that one. AB: Do you have a role model at the moment? Who would you say you’re looking up to or learning from?
KR: So many different people. People often ask me whom I’m most impressed by other university presidents. There it’s definitely Freeman Harbowski who is the president for twentytwo years now of UMBC. So, the question is how do you do that kind of job for so many years? And what I discovered in listening to him is he’s always putting himself in a learning stance. When I last heard him speak last year he was speaking to a bunch of new presidents and he used French because he’s taking first year French. And it was first year French. But it was interwoven in his talk and then he said here’s why I’m doing this because tomorrow I have to go take a quiz. And as soon as I take it when I get home on Sunday 18 students for my class will text me and say, what was your score? So, I have to practice and what I learned from that actually was the importance of remembering — put yourself in always learning but really learning. So, I’m taking up golf, which I’m so bad at it. But it does center me and it’s a great game for a meditative and mindfulness states. And it reminds me what it’s like to really truly be at the beginning of learning something and you guys are in that state all the time. And it’s so intense and powerful and demanding sometimes exhausting, sometimes exhilarating. And we forget, as adults what it’s like to be in that stance. So, he inspires me for having taught me that that’s one of the keys to leading an institution of learning. As we finish our interview, I ask President Rowe if she is willing to teach me how to throw a forehand flick, a quintessential ultimate frisbee move. Despite her busy life and business attire, she smiles, and gladly accepts. Out on the Wren Yard, we throw the frisbee back and forth until I get the angle of my wrist right, with nothing but words of encouragement from President Rowe.
President Rowe teaches Anna some crucial frisbee basics.
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PUBLIC SCHOOL Article by Nia Kitchin ‘20 In recent years, the Williamsburg-James City County public school district has been criticized due to perceived racial, socioeconomic and achievement inequities between constituent schools. Now, as its school board looks ahead toward adding an additional high school and redistricting based on population overcrowding, The Flat Hat is taking a look back at the district’s zoning history and examining how inequity between schools can be more effectively addressed. In 2017, the school board elected not to redistrict zoning boundaries for its three high schools after conducting months of planning, crafting six different map plans and hosting multiple community meetings. All six proposed maps were met with contention from parents and concerns from school board members, forcing the school board to abandon redistricting. Parents raised fears about their children changing schools, traveling longer distances and being forced to attend less academically successful institutions. Despite these fears over high school redistricting, redistricting plans for the district’s four middle schools proceeded in order to reach occupancy at the newly constructed James Blair Middle School, which lies just a mile north of the
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College of William and Mary’s campus. “The thought was that neighborhood schools are good for the community, and that seemed to carry the day,” sociology professor and Lafayette parent Jennifer Mendez said. “However, neighborhood schools can also be pretty homogenous schools, but that did not carry the day.” Mendez said that she is disappointed by the racial inequities that persist between WilliamsburgJames City County schools, particularly between Lafayette High School and Jamestown High School. “The issues important to consider are, first of all, we do know diverse learning environments are beneficial to all kids; we also know African American and racial minority kids do better in mixed schools as opposed to schools that are almost exclusively black and brown,” Mendez said. “... I feel the environment at Jamestown is an unhealthy homogenous environment. And the only reason I would want my kids to go to Jamestown is there are more AP classes there, more opportunities.” Lafayette senior Brenna Weber-Smith said that there is a rivalry between Lafayette and Jamestown. She said that students at Lafayette tend to stereotype Jamestown students as being whiter and wealthier,
REDISTRICTING Data by Leslie Davis ‘21
while Lafayette is more racially diverse. “As a stereotype, there’s a ‘rich kids who are entitled and think that they’re better than us’,” Weber-Smith said. Using publicly accessible data from the Virginia Department of Education, The Flat Hat conducted an analysis to operationalize persistent inequalities within the Williamsburg-James City County district. After comparing data on the race and free and reduced lunch qualifications for the 2018-19 school year for Jamestown High School, Lafayette High School, Warhill High School, Berkeley Middle School, Toano Middle School, Lois Hornsby Middle School and James Blair Middle School, differences between the schools became clear. The percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch is often used as a surrogate for measuring household income. While this method has its drawbacks — the National Center for Education Statistics gauges that the number of students who qualify for free
or reduced lunch is often higher than the number of students living in poverty — it is still a useful variable in predicting relative levels of socioeconomic status. According to Mendez, Jamestown High School and Lafayette High School have been historically cast as rivals with drastically different student bodies and test scores. In the 2018-2019 school year, Jamestown’s student population was 70 percent white and 30 percent nonwhite, while Lafayette’s students were 55 percent white and 45 percent nonwhite. In the same school year, 18 percent of Jamestown students qualified for free or reduced lunch while 33 percent of Lafayette students qualified. During the failed redistricting effort in 2017, the school board offered multiple different map options that strived to address inequity between the schools. However, according to Jamestown Board of Supervisors Chair Jim Icenhour because parents have chosen their residences partly based on what school
I call it the PTA mafia. The moms and dads get together, and one of the reasons they come here is because of the high quality schools. And if there is a perception perception that there is a better school then they want their kids to go there. That’s one of the things we’re having to try and convince people, we want to put the resources in and have the equal opportunity for people to get the education they need and the same quality education they need. — Jim Icenhour
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News their children will be attending. He said there is a perceived difference in the quality of education between the schools that is difficult to fight. Jamestown students rank score at or above the state average on most SOL exams in English, mathematics and science while Lafayette students score below or slightly below the state average on Had they the same. done it, The vocal group of parents that Icenhour refers to as the “PTA mafia” can be very we would effective and exert tremendous pressure on the be better school board. “I call it the PTA mafia,” Icenhour said. “The off today, moms and dads get together, and one of the but they reasons they come here is because of the highquality schools. And if there is a perception that were not there is a better school then they want their kids able to to go there. That’s one of the things we’re having to try and convince people, we want to put the muster resources in and have the equal opportunity for the votes people to get the education they need and the same quality education they need. When you’re to do it fighting a perception of a difference in quality or on the funding or emphasis from one school to the other that’s frustrating … the hard part is convincing school people that you put the resources there and they board. should take that into account.” Of the school board’s seven members, five — Jim Icenhour are elected and two are appointed. Icenhour spoke about the ways that the school board listens to constituent input, including community forums and surveys. However, since not all parents and community members routinely vote, especially for local positions like the school board, the board is fairly limited in what individuals they respond to. According to Icenhour, this
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limitation does not universally drive outcomes, but community input should be considered where it is given. “Had they done it, we would be better off today, but they were not able to muster the votes to do it on the school board,” Icenhour said. According to school board member Kyra Cook, the board considers keeping neighborhoods together and enforcing equity between schools when pursuing redistricting plans. In 2017, the stated criteria for the school board when considering redistricting included balancing socioeconomic status and keeping neighborhoods intact. According to Mendez, the term “socioeconomic status” was used as a proxy for race — as no one explicitly referred to the issue of racial inequity between schools — and Cook said that addressing inequity between the schools is not simply a matter of redistricting because inequity can be mitigated through other methods more effectively. “Attendance is one of the ways to address equity, but it is not the only way, and certainly not the best way,” Cook said. According to Icenhour, the school board attempts to keep zoning boundaries contiguous and aims to avoid gerrymandering so students in the same neighborhoods can attend the same schools. However, the abundance of isolated neighborhoods and meandering cul-de-sacs throughout the district creates additional challenges for keeping neighborhoods together while creating balanced schools. Icenhour said that there is also self-imposed economic segregation in Williamsburg and James City County, where parents can only find affordable housing concentrated in certain areas.
“When it came down to it, the board was just not willing to do it,” Icenhour said. “I think there was just too much pressure on them from Jamestown High School parents whose kids would have been moved out of the district. So it was a let’s just defer that decision, that food fight, until we actually do the physical plant changes and we’ve got to do it.” The School Board previously redistricted in 2007 and 2018, and both processes were emotional and drawn-out affairs. For this reason, Icenhour said that the school board wants to draw more permanent districts that will minimize community pushback. According to Mendez, redistricting will have to occur soon since all three high schools are currently over or nearing capacity. Jamestown is at 109 percent capacity, Lafayette is at 87 percent and Warhill is at 94 percent, signifying that all institutions are nearing their thresholds for student occupancy. This has impacted Jamestown severely, so much so that it currently uses trailers behind the school to accommodate all their students.
I think that in our community the entire school board should not be white, I think the school board should represent other voices. — Jennifer Mendez These utilization rates also directly affect the funding each of these schools receives and determines how they can support their students with advanced classes, facilities, extracurricular activities and teacher instruction. Therefore, many parents are very concerned about their children attending the best-funded, and thus the best-attended, high schools in the district. According to Icenhour, these concerns create a self-perpetuating cycle where parents push for
their students to attend what they consider to be the best schools — which are also the most overutilized ones — which increases their enrollment even more, exacerbating over-enrollment. “It’s difficult for me as one of the board members who funds this thing to see one way overcrowded and one underutilized,” Icenhour said. “That’s just not an efficient use of the taxpayers’ money.” According to Mendez, this funding system is the real cause of inequalities between the district’s schools, rather than the zoning boundaries themselves. She said that during the 2017 redistricting process, many Lafayette parents wanted to push the numbers of students attending Lafayette up to reach full capacity so the school could receive more funding. “Lafayette parents tried to use the redistricting to talk about the funding structure issue and how it would be good to mix up where wealthy kids go so they aren’t all going to one school,” Mendez said. This unequal utilization is particularly frustrating for Icenhour, who said he would like to see additional capacity at Jamestown moving forward, as well as redrawing the districts so that less students are going there. According to Icenhour, there are plans for
expansions to all three high schools over the next five to six years. Mendez remarked on the difficulty of having her child attend Lafayette, but bussed to Jamestown in order to receive Advanced Placement instruction in classes not offered at Lafayette. “My son was bussed to Jamestown to take an AP Music Theory class and he lost 30 minutes of instructional time,” Mendez said. According to Icenhour, there is some concern that the school board has not properly spent the money allocated to them by the county’s Board of Supervisors. He said that while he and the rest of the board of supervisors can theoretically attach conditional strings to the funds that they give to the school board, they have found that it is better to sit down and talk through any concerns they might have as opposed to micromanaging. Mendez also expressed her concerns about representation on the school board possibly affecting their priorities for the district. “I think that in our community the entire school board should not be white, I think the school board should represent other voices,” Mendez said. “Our schools should look like our community. And they don’t because there are higher concentrations in different schools.”
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THE COLLEGE’S By Gavin Aquin Hernández ‘22 and Carmen Honker ‘21 The Meridian Coffee House is a studentrun organization that acts as a venue for the music and art scene at the College of William and Mary. Below is the account of Gavin Aquin Hernández and Carmen Honker’s first time experiencing live music at the venue during Homecoming Weekend 2019. It was a dark, sullen, brisk evening in Williamsburg, Virginia. All through the night, alumni back for Homecoming Weekend pranced around campus, lollygagging about Jamestown and Richmond Roads on their way to bars and other celebratory events. Walking down Boundary Street, faint music blares, and silhouettes of illuminated figures in dimly lit houses abound. One house sticks out. There’s music, but the sounds emanating from it aren’t the typical trance, house or dubstep: they’re acoustic. It’s the Meridian Coffee House. What exactly is Meridian Coffee House? The artsy types want you to believe that it’s whatever you want it to be — and they might as well be right. While some see it as a venue for budding musicians — local and regional talent — others see it as a community. Every weekend, students at the College of William and Mary come to this quaint locale in their quests for enjoyment, hoping to break the monotony of daily life as a student in Colonial Williamsburg. The small white house, positioned just beyond the College’s colonial central campus, is adorned with four columns that hold the iconic front porch in place. After
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One house sticks out. There’s music, but the sounds emanating from it aren’t the typical trance, house or dubstep: they’re acoustic. It’s the Meridian Coffee House.
walking up the small brick path and set of stairs at the front of the house, you will step foot onto the porch. There’s a casual attitude outside stocked with students milling about in anticipation of the events. Once you arrive at the door, you’ll be asked for a couple dollars as an entry fee that will go towards a charitable cause. You’re told to “contribute what you can,” and upon dropping your change into the donation bucket, you’ll step across the threshold and enter the Meridian’s world. You’d be forgiven for being taken aback upon first entering in the house — it certainly has some bold design choices. We were immediately greeted by the sight of college students dancing to acoustic indie music, and the inside space is to be expected. Inside sits an intimate, dim central performance room with no seating as to maximise viewing space, lit by minimal lamps and string lights. There are several side rooms, one for socialising and another in which the bands’ equipment is stored. As a cheeky aside, the quirky bathroom even has a house mannequin to keep you company. When you make your way into the room directly to the right of the entrance you are greeted by a flamboyant display of unorthodox expression. Books, artwork, antique items — what seems like a random assortment of junk is a meaningful collection of artistic expression by the Meridian community. Most notably, and if you meet a Meridian staff member, they will show you a
THE MERIDIAN: MUSIC SCENE Photos by Jamie Holt ‘22 placard detailing the history of the building. Who could have imagined that a simple coffeehouse could be so storied? Once you’ve taken a gander at all the house has to offer, it is probably time to relax until the first act begins. We nibbled on some Froot Loops in the main room and enjoyed the ambience of other Meridianites settling in. By yourself? Not a big deal; the other concertgoers seemed welcoming and sociable. You’ll want to secure your place in the main performance space; find a comfortable spot in which you have a clear view of the stage area and take in your surroundings. The ambiance makes the experience. Twinkle lights frame the performance space and caricature drawings decorate the walls. The wood floors are evidently old and show their age through sponginess and creaky noises, but are charming nonetheless, unifying the rooms in the house. The Meridian Coffee House is dedicated to being a safe space — something made very clear from the get-go. As communicated by staffers before the concert, the Meridian does not tolerate any discrimination, and anyone made uncomfortable would be helped by staff. Likewise, due to the ageing nature of the structure, there is no easy accessibility accommodation. However, Meridian staffers seek to help all visitors in any way
they can. The most important rule though is no jumping, because the house could theoretically “cave in” at any second, so it’s better not to take the risk. Since it was our first time at the Meridian, we had no idea what to expect from the acts. However, we were pleasantly surprised. For the night that we went, we got to experience DOT, Nervous Nothings and famed alumni group Talk to Plants.
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Features A student duo, DOT, was first to take the stage. Their folksy, acoustic sound and relatable lyrics filled the room, as everyone in attendance methodically swayed along. The pair of voices fit comfortably together, and their set told a series of stories that resonated deeply with the college student audience. Additionally, many of the group’s friends were among the crowd, singing along and cheering loudly for their pals. We thought it was beautifully wholesome. Visiting from Richmond, Virginia, Nervous Nothings is described as an emo indie band. Like other touring groups, Nervous Nothings received compensation for playing at the venue. Most notable was the presence of the band’s badass punk keyboardist. Normally we don’t “stan” emo/punk music, but needless to say, it was a pretty widespread sentiment in the room that we all thought she was cool — especially when she handed out band stickers. Nothing is a college student’s kryptonite quite like free promotional stickers. In between acts, there is time to escape the close quarters of the main room and take a load off outside on the front porch or yard. The Meridian staff and performers need time to transition from one act to the next, changing out the equipment and conducting brief sound checks. This time in between performers is the perfect opportunity to cool off outside and chat about the acts you have seen so far. There were people strewn across the front lawn and sidewalk, debriefing with the friends they came with or making conversation with new acquaintances from inside. There was a decent amount of turnover between acts as well. Many chose only to stay for some of the opening performers and many more decided to come solely to see the main act of the night: Talk to Plants. As the time neared Talk to Plants’ scheduled time slot, the main room grew twice its size, seemingly expanding to somehow accommodate the surge in attendees. The lights turned green and the audience erupted as the final act of the night stormed the stage.
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For Talk to Plants, this comes to be one of their biggest strengths — not only can they carry a crowd, but they can feed off of it to create a dynamic, engaging show.
Described as an “herb-wave band with a mission to express creativity through sound waves,” Talk to Plants rocked the Meridian to its very fragile foundation. Despite their humble demeanor, they are very clearly a larger-than-life presence on our campus even months after graduating. Rather than going on a diatribe about how much we loved their music, we will instead tell you about what happened when we ended up in a corner of the room, immediately in front of the bathroom. When we said that the room swelled up to twice its size? Not hyperbole. Little did we know, that just a few feet away from us, Talk to Plants member Samir Tawalare ‘19 had fallen hands-first into a trash can. Although it is clearly a rock band aesthetic to be a little dirty, he was having none of that. He very politely rushed past us and into the bathroom to wash waste bin residue off his hands — but none of the other band members knew of his whereabouts. Of course, this led to a comical manhunt for Samir so that the set could start. Even though we knew where he was, it was entertaining to go along with the gag. When the door finally opened and he waded through the crowd and onto the stage area, the room erupted into cheers as the music started playing. We’re still not quite sure where the energy in the room came from in the end, but it seemed as if the band and the audience fed off each other’s energy in an ultimately symbiotic relationship. For Talk to Plants, this comes to be one of their biggest strengths — not only can they carry a crowd. but they can feed off of it to create a dynamic, engaging show. Unfortunately, all good things — even Meridian shows on Homecoming Weekend — must come to an end. When the set concluded, and the house began to spit out attendees one by one, the air was abuzz with talk of the performers and discussions of the favorite band of the night. On the walk back to Old Campus, we chatted about the experience, noting the overall pleasant vibe and commenting that this would definitely not be the last time we would visit the Meridian.
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Table of Contents Letter from the Editor
Anna Boustany ‘21
Ethan Brown ‘21
Reach for the Handle
Abby Comey ‘22
Matthew Kortan ‘22
The Land of the Free Ishaan Khandpur ‘21
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Letter from the Editor Anna Boustany ‘21
Belonging is a funny word. Everyone finds belonging in a different way, but we all have in common a lifelong search for belonging. Some of us find belonging in friends, in activities, in time alone. In my own experience at the College of William and Mary, I’ve found that many of us here have a special relationship with belonging. When I walked through the Sir Christopher Wren Building for convocation, the very first thing that I saw was a sign, held high, saying that “You Belong Here.” I burst into tears, and could barely see everyone that I high-fived. I had never realized how much I had been looking for that, searching desperately for a place full of people who felt that I belonged with them. As much as I would like to say the College has been perfect, and I’ve always felt belonging, that wouldn’t be true. There have been moments where I have felt that the world is perfect and nothing should change. There have been moments where I have cried alone in my big green chair, wondering what on earth would come next. The fact is, belonging isn’t always easy to grasp, name or understand. But that ambiguity doesn’t make it any less important. The following submissions come from students all across the College based on what belonging means to them. The students featured in our magazine have created personal non-fiction works, poetry, fictional stories and art. Belonging looks different in every piece, from finding long-distance love in Ireland to finding your place in a new community. The following works were selected for their boldness, creativity and willingness to be vulnerable. As you read the next few pages, I hope you are inspired to think about how you value belonging in your own life, and the people and things that make you feel as though you belong, completely and wholly. Sincerely,
Anna and her freshman hall, crossing the Crim Dell Bridge during orientation.
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Our Necklace Nonfiction Submission by Ethan Brown ‘21 Accompanying Graphics by David Solinsky ‘21 I fumble trying to take off my button down. I awkwardly laugh, hoping that by acknowledging the situation I’m making it somewhat more tolerable for both of us. Finally it gives way and I climb on top of him, going through the same tired motions I always do before I finally grow exasperated by the chain clanking on my chest. I pause suddenly, taking special care to remove the clasp gently before resting the necklace atop the lamp on his bedside table. “Remind me to get this before I leave,” I tell him. I’ve worn the same two items of clothing to almost every hookup I’ve embarked on at the College of William and Mary. First, I adorn a black bomber jacket from H&M, one with too many zippers and too few pockets. It makes me look ten times edgier than I actually am, and I like that because it signals to the men I’m meeting that I don’t need their validation. My vulnerability lays just out of view, tucked beneath my jacket. To every public outing, every class, every dinner and even every hookup, I wear my most prized possession: a discrete silver necklace with three narrow rectangular beads, which respectively read “Dublin”, “Virginia” and “O”. The “O” stands for Owen, a boy from rural Ireland who I’ve spent the past
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five years in an enigmatic long-distance ‘relationship’ with. I use single quotes around ‘relationship’ because we’ve taken on so many different labels within the past half decade that trying to define us in a word is nearly impossible. We’ve been friends and we’ve been boyfriends; we’ve been on and we’ve been off. We met on Instagram’s Explore page as two plucky, closeted gay boys back in 2014 and have since spent almost a quarter of our lives living side-by-side -- or at least as side-by-side with 3,500 miles in between can get. For most of high school, we clung to each other. Being a queer high schooler was hard, and we were each other’s life raft. The end of high school saw the collapse of my parents’ marriage, and with my own family’s dissolution it was incredibly meaningful to have him in my corner, always there to comfort me through my tumultuous periods. I’d call him lodged deep underneath my duvet as my parents raged outside my bedroom door, holding back tears as he whispered soothingly into my ears night after night. When we headed to university two years ago, we ambitiously envisioned ourselves staying monogamous boyfriends until graduation. Inevitably we discovered that college wasn’t the best environment for fledgling long-distance relationships, and our relationship outlook turned from sustainable to cynical. After many depressing video calls about “us” and “our future,” we tried going on dates with other guys and exploring broader romantic horizons, in Dublin and Williamsburg respectively. This is the decision that’s led me to countless dorm rooms late at night, trying desperately to numb the sensation of missing him by pursuing random encounters with guys who barely remember my name, let alone
The “O” stands for Owen, a boy from rural Ireland who I’ve spent the past five years in an enigmatic long-distance ‘relationship’ with.
We end every Facetime with “I love you.” make eye contact with me around campus. This unenviable situation is not what I expected from my four years at the College, and it’s not what I envisioned when Owen and I had these challenging conversations at the dawn of our undergraduate careers. After being one of the only openly queer students at my high school, I expected Williamsburg to be a verifiable den of eligible gay boys. I figured I’d explore my romantic tastes for eight semesters as my beau did the same abroad, then we’d both neatly decide in May 2021 whether to pursue something long-term. I saw us casually dabbling in other relationships, treating them like practice runs before we’d both eventually embrace each other after our respective graduations and run off into the sunset. Instead, we’ve both crashed and burned through a series of interpersonal endeavors. Over winter break I started dating a violist, with whom I enjoyed three weeks of bliss before he revealed himself as an emotionally abusive prick. Owen started seeing someone from Northern Ireland who vaped after sex, and it wasn’t even one of the good flavors (what rational person vapes Cookies and Cream flavored nicotine?) We’ve both tried to get out there romantically, only to realize that things out there aren’t that good. Luckily, since because of this we’ve kept going back to each other, regardless of how difficult distance makes things. Throughout the last two years, we’ve kept up the fixtures of couplehood. We send each other good morning texts. His always arrive around 4 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, and I send mine every night on the East Coast before going to bed, so he sees it when he wakes up a few hours later. We FaceTime every week, exchange recipes, complain about coursework, plan trips together and do about everything a stereotypical couple could do from so far away. We end every FaceTime with “I love you.” Sometimes the “coupleness” of our relationship culminates in exquisitely intimate gifts, most notably my prized necklace, which he gave to me for my
twentieth birthday last July. It was one of four small tokens of affection he gave to me, alongside a collection of short stories from my favorite author and crimson elephant pants from his recent trip to Greece. Every day since then I’ve worn it out. It’s a constant reminder of him as I rummage around Williamsburg, doing mindless tasks and working on classwork. When I get stressed, I fiddle around with it, letting the “Dublin” bead sift through my fingers. I’m not sure whether I’m channeling his presence or trying to communicate with him from afar in these moments, but it’s a comfort regardless. This is why I panic when I realize that I’ve left it behind later that evening, when the boy I was with texts me “You forgot your necklace!” when I’m half a mile away back at my dorm. The symbolism is dizzying. Taking off the necklace during a hookup and removing Owen’s presence near my heart -- it felt too kitschy to be true. For the rest of the night I can’t think of anything else. I can’t focus on my homework and I struggle to talk with my friends. As if being an ocean away wasn’t hard enough, now I’d abandoned the one thing linking him to me, made even worse by the fact that it happened doing something in an attempt to fulfill the void left by his absence. Pathetically I text back, asking if there’s anyway I could pick it up later that evening. He obliges and a few hours later I’m in the library, waiting in front of Swemaromas to retrieve my coveted jewelry. He hands it over, and the necklace is ruinously tangled. The beads look dirty and the chain is twisted up in clumps, so I trudge home, lay in bed and undo the knots. Ten minutes later it’s unfurled and I lace it around my neck, letting out a tremble of unbridled relief. I haven’t taken it off since.
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Reach for the Handle Fiction Submission by Abby Comey ‘22 Accompanying Graphics by Riel Whittle ‘21 When I was a little girl, I thought doors had feelings. The ones with peeling paint and duct-taped mail slots felt bad about themselves. The doors painted red, wearing golden handles were snobbish. I liked the door across the street from mine best. It had dark brown wood with patterned wind panes, the kind through which you could only make out light and blurry figures. My door was kind of a dick. It had a knocker shaped like a pineapple and its paint looked nice from far away, but up close it was peeling around the edges. My door thought it was all that, but it was scarred. No pineapple knocker could hide that. Now I don’t have a front door. Well, I guess my apartment has a door, but that doesn’t really count. All twelve doors on my floor look exactly the same, apart from a dent here and a scrape there. My first Christmas living alone, I pinned tinsel along my door frame. The landlord, Pete, told me to take it down. It’s a fire hazard, he told me through a mouthful of chocolate croissant. Pete loved chocolate croissants. On Halloween, I hung a tiny ghost from my doorknob. I found it stuffed into my mailbox the next morning. In fourth grade, I was a ghost for Halloween. I
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Mom sent me an article about how to respond to acts of kindness after I called my aunt a whore on my birthday last year.
didn’t do the typical sheet-over-head thing though. I dressed up as the only dead person I knew, which happened to be our school’s (obviously) former librarian, Mrs. Moseley. I borrowed an oversized sweater from my mom and bought a pair of reading glasses from the drugstore. Then I covered myself in cornstarch from head to toe. I got sent to the principal’s office. My mom picked me up, and we went out for pancakes. Mom came to visit last month. She brought muffins, but they got squished in her suitcase. I thought about telling her she should’ve kept the muffins in her carry-on, but I decided against it. Mom sent me an article about how to respond to acts of kindness after I called my aunt a whore on my birthday last year. The article said it’s not about the gift itself but actually about the labor that went into the gift. In other words, it’s the thought that counts. This particular thought was going to get crumbs in the cracks between my couch cushions, but I decided that was okay. “You’ve lost weight,” is the first thing she said to me, followed by “I love you” and it’s “so good to see you,” of course, but when she hugged me I felt small.
When she pulled back and looked at me, I felt like the ghost of Mrs. Moseley. She walked around my apartment, picking things up and putting them down. “I’m so proud of you,” she told me, while looking through the kaleidoscope I keep on the window sill. “You’re all grown up. This place feels like you.” I was glad she was there. Having someone else see the apartment made it real. I hadn’t imagined the space. Someone else was noticing the way the hardwood sags beneath the dishwasher. Someone else could smell the eucalyptus I sprayed in the curtains. We ordered takeout Chinese food and ate it on the floor, mingling duck sauce packets with BananaGram tiles, fortune cookies with Uno cards. She made me read my fortune aloud. “The door is unlocked. Reach for the handle. ” “I like that,” she said. “I don’t even have a handle. I have a knob.” “I think this is a sign.” “A lot of doors are automatic these days,” I said. “I think you need to put yourself out there.” “The automatic door at Costco was broken yesterday.” “You need to start making friends,” she responded. I continued, “It almost caused a riot, honest to God, I saw a lady try to ram the thing with a shopping cart.” Mom threw a chopstick at my face. It bounced off my forehead with a thump. “You could’ve hit me in the eye!” “I’ve got good aim,” she said. I started closing takeout boxes and stacking tiles. “Hey. I love you,
honey.” “I know.” “But all you do is go to work and come home.” “I just told you I went to Costco yesterday.” “You know what I mean.” “Yeah,” I said. She kissed my forehead. We went out for pancakes in the morning, and then she left. I ate a squished muffin for lunch and two for dinner. I liked how they tasted. The blueberries had burst and their juice stained the mushy center and turned my fingers blue. My second encounter with death came in eighth grade. Our neighbor Jeanette died of a heart failure in her sleep. She had just bought a 500-pound pig named Jonathan on Craigslist. Her husband was moving to a retirement home and insisted my family adopt Jonathan. After hours of my begging, Mom gave in. Two months later, Jonathan gave birth to ten piglets. Even I agreed something had to be done. I knocked on every door on our street until there were no more piglets. A girl my age lived in the house with the enchanted windows. A family who ran an ice cream truck lived two blocks down behind a door with a Christmas wreath in May. In a single afternoon, ten piglets had homes, and I knew people. I didn’t feel strange. I had friends. I felt lonely the Monday after my mother left. I thought of Jonathan’s piglets on the way home from work. I stopped at a bakery. I didn’t think about it, I just found myself walking through the door. It had a handle, not a knob, and a tiny bell jingled when I pulled it open. I bought eleven cupcakes and a chocolate croissant.
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Cornstalk Skyscrapers Nonfiction Submission by Matthew Kortan ‘22 Accompanying Photos by Nia Kitchin ‘20 The world outside furiously rolls along the pane of laminated glass like snapshots on an everlasting film reel. For now, the sequence features an anonymous roadside corm field, but that’s bound to change as we move along the road. The big city up ahead is probably oblivious to the existence of this particular farm land. For the framer, it’s the entire world. The road rolls beneath the wheels and the story continues. Every last one of my worldly belongings, reduced to a few boxes in a trunk graciously giving way to spacious seating for six. Fail to purge yourself of materialistic possessions and college will do it for you. Force you to set aside all the superficial accolades and practice drowning out your social ineptitude. Is it ironic that this was my takeaway from spending the summer alone and reading the likes of The Sun Also Rises? Parking is at a premium on move-in day, but a blend of liquified anticipation and anxiety fills my veins. Upon arrival, my lungs welcome the crisp Milwaukee air and I am born anew; a phoenix on the soon to be frozen plain. I’m in the orientation check-in line. I think I’ve caught the eye of the redhead across the room. I have to wipe the stars from my eyes when I reach the table. The receptionist greets me with a shivering smile that sends tremors down my spine. Room key: check. Name tag: check. What else could a student need to feel at home? I’m feeling too squirrely to talk to the redheaded girl right now. Once I cool down a bit, I’ll make a move. After all, I’ve
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Just in time for midterm exams, a plague of terminal joy permeates the sweeping wind of a silver afternoon.
got four years on the horizon here. Classes are underway. The workload is sort of laughable. This is what high school teachers made all those ominous prophecies about? It’s all under control; time to party! The door of the frat house closes with all the pressure of the outside world concentrated inside a 20 by 20-foot basement. The inflated egos of the 40 or so people jam packed within pin me against the wall. Lungs drowned in axe body spray, ears drowned to the sound of Astroworld, a steady scent of stale Budweiser. Cover this basement with soil and put up a headstone and some flowers and nobody would tell the difference, except the police. The heavy fist crashes through the door and the liquidators step inside under the cover of red and blue lights. Time to run! I think I’ve pushed my luck far enough for a while. Just in time for midterm exams, a plague of terminal joy permeates the sweeping wind of a silver afternoon. Hordes of faceless people skate atop the sidewalk on the way to classes. The spellbound skulls can’t seem to do a thing to detract from their coveted iPhones. Their air pods are an invisible lifeline. The angry mob turns against itself, consumed with the self-inflicted silence that runs in the streets. Any sense of comfort recedes at the sight of my peers. I retreat back to my bedroom. With my hopes, I turn to my own enchanted black rectangle. My pupils dilate, a total eclipse of the iris. Blinded by the pixelated light, a pair of claws reach
Maybe that’s what you get for agreeing to attend a lousy university. Luckily, I’m in the mood for drastic measures. It takes me a while to dig up my password for the Common App. It was written on a little slip of paper somewhere under a pile of journal entries and financial aid information. It was next to a packet for the study abroad in Rome summer program.
outward and clutch my throat. The lonely crowd outside is about to claim another victim. I sleep away each day in hopes of warding them off. My dreams are dashed to the shrill yell of the fire alarm as it charges through the dormitory walls into the moonlight coated snowfall. Building protocol calls for students to calmly proceed down the stairs, out the front door, and across the street until first responders arrive. The building isn’t burning. If it was I’m not sure I would care. After all, I’m staring down a loaded barrel of four more years here. My neighbor apparently shares my intentions of keeping warm; he ducks through my door before he is spotted in the hall. The unwanted refugee opens his mouth to speak. He’s of the narcissistic variety, so naturally his ice breaker is something to do about his latest Tinder conquest. I let him stay only because his pathetic self-indulgence is sort of amusing and I’m awake now anyway. He yanks out his phone to show me a picture of his most recent swipe. My stomach turns to quicksand and sinks. The lunatic neighbor’s magic crystal rectangle reflects the image of the redhead from orientation! Now that she’s hooked up with that moron down the hall, I feel my feelings disappear. Every time I read into one of these things wrong is more disappointing than the last. He leaves at my demand and I climb back into bed. I should’ve made my move sooner, but it wouldn’t have made a difference. I feel like nothing more than the nameless farmer from beyond the
rigor mortis heart of the stillborn city. Caught in the olive rain, the terrible white light blares from the end of the tunnel. As it intensifies, a ventriloquist tugs on the strings from which my limbs hang in the balance. I act out my nightmare to the delight of all. The ventriloquist snips the strings and laughs as I fall onto some stainlesssteel table. A surgeon enters to flush my lungs with laughing gas and administrate my daily dose of synthetic cheer. The surgeon removes his mask. I see the faces of high school teachers; I see the face of the redheaded girl; I see the face of God. They look down at me and laugh. The surgeon hums a lullaby and carries me away into the abysmal nothingness. I awake over the cast of a cold sweat shadow. Maybe that’s what you get for being an atheist at a Catholic school. Maybe that’s what you get for being a Bears fan in Wisconsin. Maybe that’s what you get for agreeing to attend a lousy university. Luckily, I’m in the mood for drastic measures. It takes me a while to dig up my password for the Common App. It was written on a little slip of paper somewhere under a pile of journal entries and financial aid information. It was next to a packet for the study abroad in Rome summer program. When I decided once and for all I was transferring, I asked the blockheaded program director if I could please have my $500 dollar deposit back, I needed it to pay application fees. His mouth opened and he spewed something
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about loyalty along with a few streaks of drool. Reluctantly, the big dufus agreed to give me my money back, but not without a threat. “If you ever want to study abroad at this University again, I will personally see too it that your application is denied!” the big turtle man said. That’s okay I told him, I think I’d like to go home instead. One night, a gunshot fired across the street. A man tried to defend himself from being beaten brainless by a homeless man with a brick. His last ditch effort at self-salvation misfired and he bled out on the steps of a Lutheran church. I of course, was oblivious to all of the madness unfolding outside my window, as was the case with pretty much everything in my campus life these days. There’s no rest for the transfer applicant. Six schools, 10 essays: 850 to 2,000 words apiece, seven letters of recommendation from professors who hate to see you go, 90 percent for an A-, 93 percent for an A, zero room for error, three months before the deadline, one angsty teenage boy. It’s now sometime in March. I submit my soul over the world wide web so the top brass of academia can determine my worth. A matter of life and death dictated by acceptance rates. You don’t even need to open the envelope they send you in the mail to tell whether you got in or not; size tells you all you need to know. In this case, bigger is better. They like to send a congratulatory poster or folder along with a notice of acceptance. Whereas, all it takes to deliver heart-wrenching rejection is black ink and a white sheet
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My heart is completely thawed. New friends aren’t hard to come by. They enjoy eating food, like real people.
of 8.5 by 11 paper. Of course, after the most rigorous part of the application process, the months of agonizing waiting they subject prospective students to for cruel and unusual reasons, simply knowing one way or the other is a sort of relief. I’m no exception. Ok Computer monopolizes my playlist: paranoia reigns supreme. I check the mailbox twelve times per day; the white light shines through from the mail room on the other side of the wall. Empty like my spirits. Finally, I start getting fed up. Rampaging up the stairs back to my room empty handed again, I feel my phone vibrating in my pocket. It’s a text from my mom back in Virginia. It reads something like: “You’ve got mail!” Attached is a picture of a rather large envelope. I’m in the orientation check-in line. Repeating the “first year experience” unnerves me. I tip-toe on eggshells up to the receptionist when my turn comes. Her smile offers a blanket to my frigid heart. Collecting my room keys and name tag, I return a nervous grin and step outside, a reminder that the sun God can tolerate some college campuses better than others. The southern stretch of the commonwealth state is cozy and green. My heart is completely thawed. New friends aren’t hard to come by. They enjoy eating food, like real people. I had forgotten how it felt to have a few of those around. Tonight, were in for a treat: Vietnamese. On the way to the restaurant, my thoughts wander off to that cornfield outside Milwaukee. I wonder how the farmer will navigate the desolate winter once it barrels over his world yet again. Maybe he’s growing soy beans this year.
The Land of the Free Poetry Submission by Ishaan Khandpur ‘21 Accompanying Graphic by Kelley Wang ‘23 Clique clique, The white shone bright, The politest of no’s, We don’t accept you tonight.
Polite and political, Your medals shine, It’s a world just made for you. Our thoughts unwanted, Bills are glowing, Right in front of you.
Days of hope, They told us we could, Make right a world gone wrong. They say no, but their vote does go, There’s nothing wrong, To the right they believe in now. Yet nothing right, And that is scary too. The smiles are haunting, It’s the middle ground. The people daunting, Not black and white, Do we breathe the same air? That often gets you blue. Our words are common, Once they’re spoken, Yet you believe we’ll never be there.
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Memories of Sarajevo By Ethan Brown ‘21 This summer, I spent 31 days volunteering with the College of William and Mary’s AmericanBosnian Collaboration Project in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Project, the oldest international service trip at the College, began in 1998 when Mihailo Crnobrnja, a visiting Bosnian scholar, visited campus to teach a course about the former Yugoslavia’s political disintegration. In Williamsburg, he saw American students’ deep interest in teaching and learning in post-war Bosnia, which sparked interest in organizing a crosscultural service project sponsored by university students in both countries. Since the initial exchange
of American and Bosnian students 21 years ago, five students from the College have traveled to Bosnia every summer. Each June and July, five Americans teach alongside Bosnians co-teachers from the University of Sarajevo at a fully subsidized summer camp for young Sarajevans. Every year’s camp strives to bring Bosnians of different religious, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds together in an effort to improve intercultural communication, foster strong non-violent communication and conflict resolution habits, and provide meaningful opportunities for fun and personal growth. This year, I was truly fortunate to be
Some buildings in Sarajevo are relics of the Austrian era, with elaborate architectural design. Additionally scattered around the city lie monuments to Sarajevo’s siege. Among these is an expired canned beef and pork supply that was airdropped to Sarajevans during the war — a huge insult considering many Bosnians are Muslim. The monument is cheekily called “Monument to the International Community.”
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selected as one of the American co-teachers. I traveled to Sarajevo June 20 to teach English, ecological sustainability, and cultural diversity using creative literature to an incredibly gifted group of 25 Bosnian children. Alongside Alema Halilovic, my Bosnian co-teacher and now close friend, Alema Halilovic, I had the opportunity to explore Bosnia’s vibrant, stunning and complex capital city for four weeks. This photo journal recounts the happy accidents I had the fortune to see in Sarajevo: these are some of the things that I didn’t plan on seeing, but that ended up becoming the memorable snapshots of my month in Eastern Europe.
Post-conflict Sarajevo is home to countless ambitious architectural projects, including the Avaz Twist Tower. The tallest building in the fomrer Yugoslavia, itâ€™s a tangible, reminder of Bosnian economic growth.
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Among my favorite spots in the city was the bathroom of Goldfish Pub, a quaint, vintage pub. Various strange knicknacks rested atop excessively detailed shelves. The most bizarre was a television broadcasting old news reports in Korean. As part of my teaching contract, I volunteered at an English speaking daycare twice a week. One evening I helped them paint a new playground on the outside payment, which they delighted in using for a few days until the rain wore it down. I made a point of strolling aimlessly around Sarajevo everyday after work. Meandering around the Turkish market was always a treat, complete with divine baklava and cups of Turkish coffee.
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I went for a jog around the city centre most evenings, and snapped this photograph of Sarajevoâ€™s Sacred Heart Cathedral at dusk. Bosniaâ€™s religious diversity is visible with just a kilometer-long stroll around downtown; itâ€™s not uncommon to see a Catholic cathedral, an Orthodox church and a mosque all on the same city block. Sarajevo was also replete with lovely copper shops. I purchased a homemade copper bracelet on my last day in Bosnia and have worn it every since, serving as an ever-present reminder of one of the most influential months in my college career. I have no plans to take it off anytime soon.
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HIDING IN By E mma Ford ‘22
This past summer, human trafficking manifested less than a mile away from the College of William and Mary. Sex trafficking suspect Evan Anthony Cole was taken into police custody July 11 following a lockdown at the Travelodge motel on Bypass Road, with police lingering in the Cracker Barrel parking lot across the street. While Cole has been apprehended by police, the proximity of his capture to campus calls into question the prevalence of human trafficking in the Williamsburg area. The Williamsburg area police departments and surrounding counties are taking action to alleviate human trafficking’s presence throughout Virginia, which ranked 15th in the United States in 2017 for the most reported cases of human trafficking for sex and cheap or free employment according to the human trafficking hotline. There were 198 human trafficking cases reported in Virginia in 2018, with 143 reported sex trafficking cases. Virginia Beach ranked 71st for calls per capita while Norfolk was 77th. Human trafficking is defined by the dictionary as “the action or practice of
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and Adit hi Ra mak rishn an
illegally transporting people from one country or area to another, typically for the purposes of forced labor or sexual exploitation.” To further break down the definition, labor trafficking involves the use of force, coercion, or fraud to make an individual perform certain labor against their will, and sex trafficking exploits individuals by making them perform sexual acts without their consent or sell the individual for sexual activity. The Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force was formed in 2017 to combat trafficking throughout Hampton Roads. The Virginia State Police and six local police departments are part of the task force, which is also partnered with the Commonwealth’s Attorney General, the U.S. Attorney General and the Samaritan House. Investigator Alexander Willets joined the task force earlier this year. Before he arrived in 2018, the task force conducted 89 new investigations, made 32 arrests and confirmed 61 survivors. Willets’ task force employs retrospective and proactive policies in order to curtail trafficking in the area and they are attempting to strike a careful balance
between supporting survivors and preventing future crimes. A key facet of their proactive, community-based approach is their use of hotlines and other communication-driven resources, including the nationally used Polaris Project hotline. The Polaris Project is a non-governmental organization that combats human trafficking and other forms of modern-day slavery. “We can kind of come into it via good, street-level, proactive police work, that is definitely an avenue where it is not necessarily reported to us; we find it on our own,” Willets said. “That is definitely one of the benefits of being a more proactive department because unfortunately some of these populations don’t really feel comfortable calling the police for a variety of reasons, so sometimes, it’s just easier for us to kind of do surveillance, use observations and find it on our own.” At the College, an annual event called Tribe Against Trafficking focuses on spreading awareness about human trafficking and related humanitarian issues. Recognizing that human trafficking transcends demographic
in e c n a ev l e r d an e c n e l va e r p s ’ g n i k c i f f tra n a m Hu
and socioeconomic boundaries, event organizers Gracie Harris ’21 and Anna Rader ’20 center their human trafficking activism on analyzing the impact sex trafficking crimes have in Williamsburg and surrounding counties, as well as at the College. “Overarchingly, we kind of have a mission of bringing education awareness and action to campus and getting people to understand a little bit more about this issue, getting people thinking about it and also what they can do about it, because I think all of these things are very tightly linked,” Rader said. Each year, collaborative teams from organizations devoted to preventing human trafficking sit down and decide on what messages they will strive to emphasize and what objectives they believe will resonate most with members of the College’s community. “This past year, we had two specific goals, but one of them was what in your career can you do to kind of end trafficking or prevent trafficking, so we looked at different careers,” Rader said. “So like, in medical professions knowing that you should be able to identify
victims of trafficking, and that’s a really big push because I think — I don’t know the statistics off the top of my head — but there is a decent number of victims that you see, I think it is like one a week, especially primary care physicians.” In addition to her role with Tribe Against Trafficking, Harris also works part-time at Latisha’s House, a Williamsburg non-profit organization that supports individuals affected by trafficking. “Latisha’s House in Williamsburg is a safe house, but it’s more than just a home or temporary place; it’s a full program,” Harris said. “Residents are at the house from typically six months to 18 months just depending on situations. It’s everyone’s own personal journey.” Harris volunteered at Latisha’s House over the summer while staying in Williamsburg and gained an invaluable personal glimpse into the impacts of trafficking and its presence in throughout Tidewater Virginia. “I have already done my own research into what trauma is, how it affects your brain, and what survivors go through, but having so much one on one experience with everyone in the
urg b s m Willia
house really taught me a lot about how different it is for every person,” Harris said. “You really have to meet people on their level.” Post-traumatic stress disorder is common among trafficking survivors, and Harris developed effective ways of interacting with and supporting individuals struggling with PTSD while working at Latisha’s House. “It’s very rare that we get a resident who isn’t struggling with PTSD, just because of the nature of what everyone’s been through,” Harris said. “All of those experiences in such a small space blows up from time to time, and you just have to know how to manage that and know when to call for backup and all of those things.” Along with her role with Tribe Against Trafficking, Rader also works with the organization Human Engagement and Response to Trafficking. HEART was founded by five undergraduate women in January 2017 following a Branch Out alternative break trip, a program at the College that allows students to work with different organizations during their school breaks, in Baltimore, where they
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worked with an anti-sex trafficking organization. Rader joined HEART the spring of her freshman year and started Tribe Against Trafficking a year later partially from the formative experiences she had gained while working with HEART. HEART also seeks to uplift people and establish their own self-worth because human trafficking at its most basic definition is an explicit form of denigrative exploitation, according to Rader. “This is something that I have been really passionate about since middle school,” Rader said. Willet believes that his task force can play an instrumental role in supporting survivors who have endured trafficking-related crimes. “It’s a really cool opportunity to work on a crime that has really real victims, which is near and dear to my heart,” Willets said. “Not saying some crimes are more important than others, but it’s fulfilling on a personal level to work on some cases where you have someone who is really truly in need, someone who really truly is in danger.” According to Harris, victims of trafficking do not conform to a specific mold, and public perceptions of what trafficked individuals “look like” can make it more challenging for survivors to realize that they are being trafficked. This cyclical relationship of denial decreases the likelihood that trafficked individuals become aware of their status and inhibits them from seeking steps to alleviate the situation they’ve been coerced into. “Trafficking is a really interesting narrative; you often won’t realize that you’re being trafficked,” Harris said. “I think a lot of the narrative feels like it might be problematic and that’s something that you have to grapple with, especially once you start working on an issue like this. Agency is the most important thing. People that are in the life, they often don’t have a lot of agency, and it’s not your job to tell them, ‘you don’t
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have any agency, come with me.’ They have to come to that conclusion on their own.” Willets’ department emphasizes a survivor-centered approach when dealing with human trafficking incidents by making the process as comfortable as possible for survivors and encouraging facilitation with organizations throughout the Williamsburg and greater Hampton Roads area that can assist survivors through all stages of their legal case processes. Part of Willets’ role on his task force is to improve education to bolster awareness about human trafficking. Willets urges members of the Williamsburg community, including students at the College, to confront their biases regarding human trafficking and to acknowledge the diversity of those affected. “It kind of transcends ethnographies, demographics, stuff like that,” Willets said. “It’s kind of hard to put a finger on it and say ‘it’s this woman, it’s this man, it’s these children.’ It’s all of the above. So, it’s many people with different socioeconomic backgrounds. You also have to consider that there are different types of trafficking.” Willets explained that human trafficking can constitute either sex trafficking or labor trafficking, where a person is held against their will in a job and has no freedom to seek alternative occupation. Willets also noted that his department has increasingly dealt with more cases involving women and individuals afflicted by mental illness. Rader believes that understanding human trafficking provides an important lens for attempting to understand and address other social issues. Given the plethora of forms trafficking can take — including guerilla trafficking, sex trafficking in prostitution and pornography, tourism trafficking and social media trafficking — devoting effort to preventing trafficking-related crimes allows for a broader understanding
about how to effectively combat social ills. “I really think of it in a lot of ways as a really culminating, just like horrific thing that happens to someone when nothing else has kind of gone right,” said Rader. “So, it is a really interesting paradigm to look through a lot of other social issues at because so many of them can feed into that. And like I said, it can happen to anyone, but you can look at issues of immigration, prison issues, you can look at LGBTQ+ issues, women’s rights, children’s rights, foster care, any of these things can play into it at such a deep and intricate level.” Harris feels that Tribe Against Trafficking is an important initiative for increasing student awareness and creating a space for more conversations about trafficking, as well as antecedent social issues that facilitate the perpetuation of trafficking. Last spring, they held various awareness events, including tabling, promotion and fundraising for organizations supporting survivors such as Safe House of Hope, Butterfly House and Latisha’s House. “Through Tribe Against Trafficking, we try to raise awareness, because there are always individual choices you can make to help solve the issue, but also knowledge of the issue on a greater scale leads to broader social movements that dismantle the systems that create trafficking,” Harris said. Tribe Against Trafficking also helped coordinate a social justice symposium in Lodge One featuring various on-campus clubs including Amnesty International, Someone You Know and UndocuTribe. The symposium aimed to explore the variety of forms that trafficking can take, as well as how certain groups, including undocumented individuals, may be especially vulnerable. “People that are immigrants and don’t have documented status are
super vulnerable to trafficking, because there’s an inherent power dynamic between anyone who is a citizen and anyone who isn’t,” Harris said. “That’s typically — especially in the workforce — very easily exploited.” Rader also stressed the importance of education and awareness in combatting the issue of human trafficking. She said she believes that attending events like the ones held by Tribe Against Trafficking provides students at the College with a more comprehensive understanding of how trafficking affects Williamsburg, even if it does not affect students directly. “Overarchingly, we have a mission of bringing education awareness and action to campus and getting people to understand a little bit more about this issue, getting people thinking about it and also what they can do about it, because I think all of these things are very tightly linked,” Radar said. According to Willets, the Hampton Roads area is frequently placed as the 13th highest for human trafficking in the country. However, he has noticed that awareness around trafficking has improved over the years, which he hopes will help reduce trafficking cases in the future. He credits the tourism industry of the Historic Triangle area as a predominant influence on why trafficking occurs more frequently than elsewhere in the country, as well as the predominance of highways and hotels in an area. “Definitely think about hotels, motels, venue — you need a venue for these crimes,” said Willets. “What are the motives; are there major
highways cutting through, and what is the population? Is it a transient population? You know, Hampton Roads is a military, transient population. All that stuff can relate and encourage human trafficking in some ways. … It is credible enough where my bosses have obviously said we should sit down and assign someone to do this task force.” Around the College specifically,
“You have to look at the things that are advantageous to traffickers: cheap housing, which you are a pretty good distance from,” Willets said. “We have a pretty sizeable hotel motel population in this city, and you are pretty far from those… So William and Mary, specifically, is it possible right up around here? Absolutely — again there is variety of trafficking that can take on specific forms.” Similarly, Harris said she believes that college students are typically less vulnerable to trafficking because of their age and privilege, but stressed that it is important to be vigilant and stay educated. “The average age for entry into trafficking in PRACTICE SITUATIONAL the U.S. is somewhere between 13 and 16; it’s a AWARENESS. lot of people who are in the foster care system that don’t have stable home environments, that already KNOW YOUR FRIENDS. have a history of trauma that leaves them more vulnerable to be exploited by pimps and traffickers,” BE AWARE OF PEOPLE’S Harris said. “It’s looking MOTIVES. out for each other in a lot of ways, I think, more than looking out for yourself.” DON’T TRAVEL WITH Harris encourages students on campus STRANGERS. to stay up to date and educated on trafficking, as well as to keep in mind LOOK OUT FOR FRIENDS. the intersectional aspect of the issue. “Educate yourself, but also work to educate those around you,” Harris said. Willets explained that the Colonial “It’s such an intersectional issue. Williamsburg area is usually not You need to advocate for the myriad a hot sport for human trafficking of ways it affects people. People because the College is situated of color are at a higher risk, trans in an area that is relatively people are at a higher risk … and disadvantageous to traffickers. so, how do we change the system to Willets added that he is not aware better support those people to lower of any active cases around the the vulnerabilities, which is the most College currently. important thing.”
Tips to avoid trafficking
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Maybe the real favorite bar was By Maggie More ‘20 THE PLAN I began this story with pretty close to an outsider’s perspective on Williamsburg’s bar scene. I enjoy going out occasionally, but large crowds of loud people often make me uncomfortable rather than helping me let loose, and I tend to stick to the fruitymixed-drinks-and-wine section of most drinks menus. In other words, I am not used to bar crawls. However, I’m a senior here at the College of William and Mary, and my friends and I are now all over the age of 21, which means I was struck by the urge to see which bar we might like best. Where would I most enjoy coming back 20 years from now to relive college memories? If we were to become a sitcom, what would be the best location to somehow magically have a booth perpetually reserved? In order to figure this out, I dragged several friends along with me to visit eight bars around campus over the course of three different weekend nights. My friends and I visited Dog Street Pub, Amber Ox, Paul’s Deli, Precarious Beer Hall, the Hound’s Tail, College
Delly, Brickhouse Tavern and Green Leafe Cafe. While there, I checked the price range of common drinks on the menu, looked at what kind of food was available, whether it was vegetarian and vegan friendly and what drink the waitstaff recommended. I also kept an eye on the vibe at each bar — was it mostly college students or townies, and what kind of night one could expect at each location? NIGHT 1 Amber Ox As soon as we walked in, the vibe was noticeably different. The decorations were trendier, with a generally urbanrustic feeling — exposed brick, white paint, metal fixtures, wood tables. Mumford and Sons’ “I Will Wait” was playing as we opened the doors, and it made sense somehow. I have never been to Texas, but Amber Ox is what I imagine upscale bars in a large city in Texas would be like. Maybe that was just the longhorn logo. When asked what he thought the vibe of Amber Ox was, Evan said it was “like a high school reunion where everyone has grown up, but it isn’t awkward. It’s reuniting with friends from high school in an adult manner.”
I have never been to Texas, but Amber Ox is what I imagine upscale bars in a large city in Texas would be like.
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The setup in Amber Ox made much more sense for large groups. There was the obligatory bar seating, but also tall tables long enough to fit at least seven people comfortably. The entire building was big and open, but without the echoing effect that so often makes big bars uncomfortably loud. The crowd didn’t seem to be students from the College — at least, I didn’t see anyone I knew. But it was a young crowd of what looked like mostly grad students or locals under the age of 30. It was relaxed, the kind of place that we wanted to hang out in and didn’t feel weird taking up a table at after ordering just one drink each. Zack Naher, the bar supervisor and man in charge of the cocktail program, had been working at Amber Ox for about a year. He said that he liked that it was laid back and not pretentious. “We’re kind of aiming for both [college students and locals],” Naher said. Amber Ox also tries to have elevated food that won’t completely empty your wallet. “The whole idea behind a public house is that you want people to regularly visit you,” Naher said. “You really want to maximize the experience, so you
the friends we made along the way Photos by Maggie More ‘20 have people that are regular customers.” Because Amber Ox, which opened in 2017, is a brewery first and foremost, most of their menu is beer. Prices range from $3.50 to $14 for regular beers, while growlers (called “crowlers” at Amber Ox) range from $3.50 to $9. They switch out the beer options frequently enough that they stick to paper menus, and there are also a few mixed drinks and ciders for those who don’t enjoy beer at all. Whatever drink you order, the names are fantastic. Beers available for purchase Sept. 20 included “We Duel at Dawn” and “Matt’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day.” There were a few bar-snack type food items available, but not many. Glutenfree items were labelled, and while there were no vegetarian or vegan labels, there was at least one vegan option on the menu. It also played excellent music. During the hour and a half that we were in Amber Ox, they played “Jessie’s Girl,” multiple Queen songs and “Take On Me.” “I used to make fun of them for coming to Amber Ox all the time,” Quinn said of now-graduated seniors he was friends with last year. “But honestly? I get it.”
After enjoying our drinks — even my “The Dishes Are Done, Man” beer, which was the first time in my life I didn’t faintly regret ordering a beer over a mixed drink — we tipped Sherie, our absolutely fantastic waitress, and moved on. Paul’s Deli Our final stop of the night was Paul’s Deli. Paul’s at 11 p.m. was significantly more crowded and louder than either of the bars we had been to previously, and much more chaotic. If Dog Street Pub is where you go with your family, and Amber Ox is where you meet up with the high school friends you want to keep after graduation, Paul’s is where you go to get the wild stories you wouldn’t tell at either of the other places. “This is a place for sinners,” Clara said, as we found a table to the sounds of “No Scrubs” by TLC and many, many screaming adult men. We found out later that some law students were undertaking a pub crawl that night. There was one TV with some kind of sport playing, but I wouldn’t qualify it as a sports bar. Flat Hat staff members have used it as a chill background for planning meetings in the afternoons, and just as a place to hang out for fun.
Even with the football jerseys and photos of coaches on the walls, Paul’s attracts students regardless of their interest in the Tribe’s record. Chelsea Gibrill doesn’t really have an official title, but the role she fills is basically that of administrative general manager for Paul’s Deli, College Delly and Green Leafe Cafe. For the most part, people just call her “the boss.” “At Paul’s, [we’re looking to attract] probably undergrad and locals, where Green Leafe is more graduate students,” Gibrill said. “It’s like a family atmosphere; we want people to come in and feel like they’re home.” Gibrill described Paul’s as “very much a Bud Light kind of place,” where people tend to order pitchers, but her personal favorite drink there is “Chelsea’s Cherry Coke” — moonshine, a maraschino cherry soaked in moonshine, and CocaCola. But for her, the best part of having worked at the bars in the area for five years is that everybody knows her name. “My favorite part is really getting the locals and the students that come in continuously, because you really do get to know everybody by name,” Gibrill said. “And it really does create that small-town, family environment that is
“This is a place for sinners,” Clara said, as we found a table to the sounds of “No Scrubs” by TLC and many screaming adult men. Fall 2019 | 38
hard to have. And the late-night stories are all amazing.” The typical college bar atmosphere also included a distinct smoky smell throughout the bar, which was fine in and of itself, but bad for anyone with asthma. “A lot of the time I don’t notice it,” Clara said of the smoke. “I do notice it here.” “We feel asthma in this bar tonight,” Monica said. There were menus for food, but there were no allergen labels, no vegetarian labels and no labels for vegan food. We decided to stick with the classic giant plate of loaded cheese fries, which were $11.74, to go with our $12 pitcher of cider. There were drink options meant for individuals, but Paul’s is the kind of place that college students tend to go to with a pitcher in mind. While waiting on our fries, we also noticed that Paul’s has absolutely no cell reception whatsoever. “It’s because we’re in colonial times,” Evan said. “Ah yes, when they had refrigeration and neon,” Michael said. “And Coca-Cola,” Quinn said. If there were any townies in the bar, they did an excellent job of staying out of sight. Paul’s was filled with familiar faces. At one point, a more distant member of the freshman dorm walked up to our table on his way out, slammed a half-full pitcher down on our table, looked up, nodded, said “Griffin B,” and left us to our gift. Halfway through the night, my current roommate Katie met us. At another point, we ran into an entire table of Marshall’s friends from study abroad.
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We all had a fantastic night. “Paul’s isn’t the hell we were expecting, but it’s the hell we deserve,” Monica said. NIGHT 2 Precarious When Austin and I arrived at Precarious around 8:30 p.m. on night two, there was no cover charge. However, at 9 p.m., the live band started playing, which also meant the $5 cover charge unfortunately kicked in just in time for everyone else to arrive. If the general aesthetic of “Into the Spiderverse” merged with that of the cartoon logo from the video game Fallout, you would get something close to the decorations in Precarious. There’s a lot of neon, an entire wall with a sports game projected directly onto it, some cool graffiti murals and dark metal features with green accents. There’s also an entire corner of the space dedicated to arcade games, including air hockey and four-person Pac-Man. “I feel like a lot of things they do are an homage to the ‘90s,” Austin said. Precarious is like if Amber Ox had a younger, edgier cousin who moved to the city and got tattoos, which makes sense, since they’re owned and operated by the same group of people. General Manager of Precarious Max Sutton left corporate America to join the beer hall when it opened in June. He said that there are usually a decent number of grad students, and also a loyal following among the locals. “We are definitely looking to break the mold of what is traditional in Williamsburg,” Sutton said. “We’re definitely one of the more progressive options in the area, and I would say the
target demographic is anywhere from 25 to 55 years old.” Like Amber Ox, the beers and their names were excellent. I greatly enjoyed the staff recommended “Babbysitter’s Dead” for $6.50. Beer prices range from about $5 to about $8. There are also tacos, quesadillas and churros available at the “Electric Circus Taco Bar,” for roughly $4 to $6. You can’t make modifications to the food — no substituting beef for chicken in a given taco — but you can notify the staff if you have allergies. There were a couple of vegetarian options, but the menu was questionably vegan at best. There is, however, an abundance of deals, from $1 off every transaction any time with a valid College ID card, to $10 tacos and beer on Taco Tuesdays and free popcorn on Wednesday movie nights. I thoroughly enjoyed Precarious, but my friends had more mixed opinions. “It has big old millennial energy. Like, this is a hip place if you’re like, 30,” Monica said. “It reminds me of [my high school] cafeteria. It’s very college student who refuses to move on,” Quinn said. I disagreed, but that might be because the flashy lights of the arcade games are very alluring. College Delly Kelsey, Monica and I made our way to College Delly alone. When we arrived, it was emptier than I ever remembered seeing it on a Friday night. Luckily for us, this meant we got to sit on the patio, which anyone who’s walked down Richmond Road on a weekend has seen crammed full of people. It also made it easier to order
our drinks and food than it would have been an hour later, by which time it was packed. Earlier in the day, College Delly is a cute local restaurant, with walls full of history in the form of old photographs, trophies from local sports leagues and decorations celebrating the Tribe. At night, it’s like Paul’s Deli, but louder and more blatant about its purpose in life. For all our jokes about Paul’s Deli being the site of many sins, College Delly is truly the home of chaos on campus for those who frequent bars — at least, after about 10:30 p.m. This is best explained by the fact that every weekend, residents of Dawson Hall across the street can hear “Sweet Caroline,” the closing song, being screamed by all paying customers even across Richmond Road and through a closed window. While Paul’s is a small corner, good for a gathering of friends, College Delly is good for a night of bonding with random people who you may never meet again. The gulf between College Delly during the day and College Delly at night is wide and slightly bewildering. When asked how she would describe College Delly, Kelsey responded “Full of mistakes,” referring to the decisions patrons make late at night. The crowd made sense after looking at the prices on the menu. I never truly understood why the bar was so consistently packed until that moment, when my greatest desire was some cheese fries and I saw that the price was only $4.99. Regular fries are $3.99. A glass of wine is only $5, cider is only $3 and cans of beer are just $2. A pitcher of Bold Rock was $12, and enough to take care of more people than were present. College
Delly had by far the friendliest prices to a typical college student budget. College Delly Bar Manager Josh Brown started working for the Paul’s Deli location in Newtown six years ago before moving on to College Delly. “We get a lot of actual famous people, as far like sports players and stuff,” Brown said. “Here it’s more undergrad… at night it’s more undergrad. During the day we get a lot more blue-collar workers; a lot of the William and Mary faculty will come over.” According to Brown, the day and night shifts are different kinds of crazy, but the thing that makes College Delly special is that it’s particularly laid back compared to other bars in the area. “It is 11:30, I would classify this as ‘hoppin,’” Monica said of the wall-towall crowd screaming around us. College Delly is a great catch-all for everyone who can legally drink at the end of a night. You can tell exactly when various date parties end, and people will yell over your table near the window to a friend passing by outside. I don’t know that I personally would choose to go there every weekend, but there are definitely worse places to end up. NIGHT 3 Brickhouse Tavern The next night was the last night in the series of outings, and it began at Brickhouse Tavern. Brickhouse is interesting as Williamsburg bars go, because the crowd and the vibe inside varies wildly depending on the night. I was used to the large crowd of students that fills all the tables every Wednesday for trivia, so I was surprised by the relative emptiness
when I joined my friends around 9:30 p.m. There was a decent amount of noise, mostly produced by locals in their 30s to 50s, but also a lot of empty tables. The walls in Brickhouse are covered in murals, less stylized than those in Precarious. There are significantly more TVs than in any of the other bars, all dedicated to sports, along with a giant projection screen that can be retracted or extended as needed. However, it’s a relaxed enough atmosphere that, like Paul’s and College Delly, it doesn’t feel strange to hang out for an extended amount of time. Brickhouse Restaurant Manager Khabat Ibrahim has worked there since 2017. His cousin is the owner, and when he moved from Iraq without speaking any English, he learned on the job. “Everybody comes in,” Ibrahim said. “I have days — for example, Thursday nights, lots of college kids come in, Wednesday nights people come in for trivia. Friday and Saturday is a DJ, lotta people come in for dancing. Sunday, we have karaoke at night.” Ibrahim said that between the staff and the regulars who come in, it felt like one big team. “It’s somewhere townies would feel just as comfortable as college students,” Keely said. The prices on the menu are as good a happy medium between other bars as the atmosphere was. Beers range from $3.25 to $7.25; jack and cokes are $6.50, wine is $7 a glass and on Sundays, pitchers are $7 as well. There were a variety of fun mixed drinks, like the Poison Apple that I got for $10.35. Many of them had snazzy names, and like the decor, many were based around
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Features pop culture references from 2009 — the “Chuck Norris,” for example. Vegetarian and vegan food options were not labelled well, but those who need gluten free foods can ask their server for more information. The crowd didn’t get much bigger while we enjoyed our drinks, though I did get my childhood ruined by Keely and Cyrus recounting the worst Harry Potter fanfiction they came across in their years exploring the internet, in addition to catching up on everyone’s lives. Around 10, just when more people began to arrive, we decided to move on to the final bar. Green Leafe When we entered Green Leafe, we realized that we had perfectly staggered the peak hours of each bar to avoid crowds, entering the new bar to see only a few people. However, the dim lighting, dark wood paneling, exposed brick and top-40 music meant it already started with more energy than Brickhouse had. There are also significantly more booths than tables, which makes it easy to pile in with several friends. “It’s like… have you ever been to a Kelly’s?” Zie said. “It’s like if an Irish pub listened to its grandkid’s taste in music.” “It’s a mix between a trendy bar in New York City and like, an old person place?” Cyrus said. We were also joined by Quinn, whose favorite bar is Green Leafe. “I love it. They’ve got the best vibes,” Quinn said. With some photographs plastering the walls, but not quite as many, some stained-glass windows and funky Edison light bulbs dangling over each table, Green Leafe is indeed like if Paul’s or College Delly were in New York, or an old pub somewhere in Europe. It has the same energy, but for a slightly less frenetic crowd. Green Leafe Manager Addie Williams grew up in Williamsburg and started working at Green Leafe when she was just 17, and after dabbling in the real world, came back again. She’s been
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working at Green Leafe as manager for almost a year, and likes it because of the mixture of students, service workers and townies. “We get a good number of students,” Williams said. “Majority would be the law, business and grad students. I think that’s because of our menu items, our environment and our clientele, as well as the competition on the corners. Obviously, College gets a lot of the undergrads, Brickhouse gets a lot of the townies or locals.” Of all the bars, Green Leafe definitely has the widest selection of whiskeys and bourbons, if that’s your drink of choice. Pitchers range from $8 to $18, depending on what you’re getting, tasters are $3 and pints are $5.50. The cocktail I was recommended by the waitress, the Lemon and Lavender, was $11, and very refreshing. Williams also said that they change the cocktail list based on the season, keeping the most popular drinks but adding different seasonal options to freshen up the menu. Most importantly, there are also a number of loaded cheese fry options on the menu. We went with the steak cheese fries, for $13, which were delicious to start with and were exactly the kind of food that becomes absurdly fantastic after you’ve had a few drinks. Green Leafe does not have a dance floor, but it does have many bops, all of which are very singable — at one point, most of the bar was singing along to Lil Jon’s “Get Low.” Other notable songs included “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo and “Teeth” by 5SOS, which my friend Zie apparently knows all the words to. “Cyrus, are you prepared to shake what your mama gave you?” Quinn asked. “I was born prepared,” Cyrus said, while jamming out in his seat. Going to Green Leafe with friends, eating excellent cheese fries and having a few drinks was exactly what I needed to relax and destress from all my work of the previous week. SO, WHICH BAR SHOULD I GO TO? I wish I could say that my foray into the bar scene of Williamsburg provided
a clear answer to this question, especially when several townies asked me who the winner was when they overheard me talking about this article. But just as I told them, the answer really depends on the kind of night you want. If you’re filled with energy, or need to hype yourself up, College Delly or Precarious probably make the most sense. They’re both loud and crowded, have great music and can provide you with an actually pretty good meal to boot. College Delly has more students from the College on any given weekend, while Precarious is more likely to have the slight sense of anonymity that a crowd of strangers provides. Personally, Green Leafe and Paul’s Deli were my favorites, and of the two, I had the best time at Paul’s. Both were favored by college students without being as absolutely packed to the walls as College Delly was, and both had that classic college town feeling that I didn’t realize I was looking for. However, I think I would naturally gravitate towards Green Leafe. Lizzo always makes things 110 percent better no matter how great they start, and I’m a sucker for the Edison Bulb aesthetic. Even so, Paul’s had something extra, with all its decades of photographs and full-to-the-brim laminate booths. No other bar, in the course of three nights out, had the kind of easy camaraderie that Paul’s allowed. I can’t picture another place where an old friend slamming a half-full pitcher onto the table on his way out of the bar made as much sense. You run into the people you know at Paul’s, without the insanity of college assignments — or College Delly — getting in the way, and it’s set up so that those old friends you run into can easily join you. At the risk of sounding like one big, senior year cliche, it’s not about the place you go. It’s the people you go there with. To see the version of this article that includes reviews of Dog Street Pub, Hounds Tail and more, go to magazine. flathatnews.com.
Secrets of the Crim Dell
By Matthew Kortan ‘22
In the middle of a lukewarm night about a month ago, a group of friends and I trespassed onto the Crim Dell Amphitheatre. Crossing the triple-layered yellow rope felt how I’d imagine stepping into a boxing ring for a welterweight bout might feel. Only, where I expected to see an Ivan Drago-esque figure glaring at me with meatball eyes in the opposite corner, I saw an inculpable squirrel gnawing at an acorn. Something on the other end of those menacing “DANGER DO NOT ENTER” signs fastened to the rope I found a bit ironic: no clear and obvious sense of impending doom. In fact, the forbidden veranda was the first place I’d been able to find peace of mind in weeks. The setting itself coupled with the tune of the evening crickets made the placid simplicity of the moment excellently tranquil. Naturally I wondered aloud, “When the hell are they going to get this thing up and running again?” My friend replied that I shouldn’t count on that happening anytime soon. The Crim Dell Amphitheatre has been out of service for over a year now. Upon learning this tidbit, my jaw pummeling the decaying leafridden floorboards might’ve seriously shifted the balcony off its foundation. Let me back up. Many of you probably have no idea what the Crim Dell Amphitheater is. For reference, you may have heard of its more widely-established neighbor, the Crim Dell. According to the College of William and Mary’s website the Crim Dell and its beloved bridge are “the most photographed (and romantic) spot on campus”. I guess that makes the ramshackle amphitheater across the street the most profaned — and tragic. A true landmark of depravity. Why am I getting into all this? Let me put it like this: the Crim Dell Amphitheatre is like any good dog. Pay it the attention it deserves, and it just might become the only thing between you and the fringes of an irreversible manic prostration. But, let it slip your mind for just long enough, and it’ll shit on your floor and run around in circles while you make
one feeble attempt after another to catch it. In other words, if the College doesn’t fix the Crim Dell Amphitheatre in time for us all to enjoy it, the consequence would fall on us, the students. Consider this, the Crim Dell Amphitheatre is an ideal site for the favorite daytime activities of a William and Mary student: needlessly apologizing to one another, making plans to visit a thrift store, and dreaming up Broadway adaptations of “The Office”. Also, it is just a plain eyesore in its current decrepit state. Visiting high schoolers might cave into some kind of epileptic fit if they were to lift their eyes away from Fortnite mobile for more than a couple seconds to witness the splintery death trap. I pity the poor tour guide whose job it is to convince parents to fork over $40 thousand next year for their degenerate children to kick back in the Botetourt Complex and play more Fortnite while sucking the soul out of countless mango Juul pods. Then again, it’s hard to blame the kids. Maybe all they need is another cool outdoor hangout spot to interact with friends, faculty, lovers, whoever and slug off the stresses of their studies, and they wouldn’t end up as generation Z Holden Caulfield caricatures. The saddest part is that it appears as if the College would rather expend its efforts into making sure kids stay as far away from the amphitheater as possible. Seriously, workers were paid to come in and install wooden posts, slop on a double coat of paint identical to the amphitheater, and string some nice yellow nylon rope to add just a dash of school spirit. Nice try Bill and Mary, but we’ve caught you in your miserly charade. For the record I’m not convinced it would’ve cost any more to just hire a few carpenters and maybe a building contractor to come in and just fix the thing. It probably wouldn’t take longer than a day or two. But, if money is what has them dragging their feet through the swampy dirt, may I suggest assembling a motley crew of pupils so we can roll up our sleeves and repair the amphitheater ourselves? Besides, it is supposed to be ours to enjoy in the first place.
Digital Feature “A Williamsburg Bus Tour” — as students at the College of William and Mary we do not often think of those red boxes with wheels. Really, just how often is it that you just get on one and see where it goes? Flat Hat Magazine Webmaster Claire Hogan ‘22 implores you to consider this mode of transportation and has written an adventure guide for you to do so. Interested in seeing where Claire went? Read all about it on magazine.flathatnews.com or snap this QR code. Fall 2019 | 42
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The Flat Hat Magazine is the College of William and Mary's semesterly news and feature magazine.