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I think one of the best things about the campus is that people are not afraid, and are in fact encouraged, to state their opinions. With the recent drama surrounding President Nichol and the Sex Workers' Art Show, you can see it more than ever. Beyond that, there's always opinion columns in The Flat Hat written by students and professors. When I tell people I go to William and Mary they usually say "good job" or they look excited and tell me they know someone, cousin, friend, whoever, who went there who I should talk to. Honestly, with my schedule this semester, I spend a lot of time in class. And when it's cold, its rare to see people outside in huge numbers. I usually hang out at the rec center, in my dorm, or sometimes in Swem. But when the weather's nice I like to hang out on Sunken Gardens or in this one tree behind Wren. Before the tourists come its also nice to cruise around Colonial Williamsburg. In terms of having a college town William and Mary is somewhat lacking. We do have New Town and the outlets and CW before the tourists come, but nothing that exciting. There are some good restaurants though. I always hear good things about Nawab and Mongo's is really good for all you can eat Asian food.
William and Mary is a small public school, mostly for undergraduates, which is remarkable by itself. Most students like the small-school atmosphere, especially when it comes to class size. The college shares the town of Williamsburg with a thriving tourist industry- there's almost no "college town" to speak of. There are many tourist establishments that cater to students as well, but the main attractions for students within walking distance consist of three (3) bars, one gas-station style 24 hour convenience store, and a myriad of overpriced restaurants. Many students also feel that the police in Williamsburg are very anti-student.
The best thing about William and Mary is the opportunities you get here that are so unique. It's magical, actually; even the most timid person, as long as they have an interest in something, has a chance to pursue that interest in truly exciting ways. I came here because when I visited on Admitted Students' Day, there was this extremely quiet girl who got up to speak at a session on research opportunities. We could hardly hear her, and she didn't seem like an obvious choice as a speaker who was supposed to be convincing us to attend William and Mary. Then she told this story about emailing a professor about trying to get into a class that was full, and in response getting an offer to spend the summer doing research with him. This was amazing. She was clearly not the most aggressive or cutthroat of people, but here, she didn't have to be in order to have an absolutely amazing experience, and one that fit her interests perfectly. She ended up getting published with this professor-- all because of one tentative, and unrelated, email. So I decided to come here because I wanted to be able to tell a story like this. And this summer, I will be going to Kenya for six weeks to go on an archaeological dig. For free. I am able to do this because a professor I had in the fall suggested some names of people to contact. One email later, I was offered a ticket to Nairobi. I didn't have to beat out tons of my also well-qualified classmates, or brag endlessly and uncomfortably about myself, and this is the kind of thing I've only heard about happening at William and Mary.
I love the size of my school! It's just small enough that I know a lot of people and run into them randomly, but not so small that I can't be away from things. People, for the most part, are pretty impressed when I tell them I'm at William and Mary. I love that. And I love how everyone here understands me. There's definitely a WM "type." Even though we're all very different, there are people here who understand my jokes and I don't have to define the words I use. In fact, I often feel challenged to learn more just to keep up with the other students here! I love that. I end up in PBK most of the time; no, all of the time. But that's because I'm a theatre major. And Swem. Swem is good. I like that we actually have a slang term for the libraray. That's pretty impressive. The Gene Nichol thing really upset me. I have even less faith in the administration than I did before. WM confuses me because some of the greatest minds in the country are students here, the professors have all done things that I can only dream of, yet the administration seems to have no idea what they are doing. Housing is awful. And parking is stupid. I liked seeing that everybody banded together during the Solidarity Movement. That's not normal. That day, I was so ashamed of my school at first. I didn't want to tell people what had happened. But then the professors started striking and the students started taking things into their own hands and soon I was prouder of WM than I could have imagined. That night at President Nichol's house, singing the alma mater, is a night I'll never forget.
The William & Mary community is passionate. Whatever their interest - volleyball, early American history, painting, global public health, or ultimate frisbee - William & Mary students (and professors) pursue it passionately. As a campus, one thing that we are universally passionate about is public service. Each year, students here log thousands of hours of service, from volunteering at local schools to spending their breaks in other countries doing medical work. Many describe our school as having a "culture of service," and I think this is accurate. While not everyone is involved in service, such a large and vocal portion of the student body is that it's hard to miss the passion for service that pervades it. William & Mary students are super-involved anyway, with most people spreading themselves thin in multiple student organizations (of which there are over 400 on a campus of fewer than 6,000 undergraduates), but the extracurriculars to which I have seen the most commitment are service-oriented. The best thing about my school is the passion that students have for their interests and activities and that professors have about teaching. Although William & Mary churns out important research each year and can boast faculty at the forefront of their fields, professors here are most interested in teaching undergraduates. This means that not only do undergrads have the attention and care of their professors, but also that there are plenty of opportunities to get involved as an undergrad in ground-breaking research in any department. Another great thing is our physical campus. While Williamsburg certainly isn't New York City, the town has a rich history that gives it a unique flavor. Where else can you jog down a street past reconstructed colonial buildings and people dressed in early American attire? Our campus is rendered in the same colonial architectural style, and there are times when I am overwhelmed by its sheer beauty. It's also generally a very safe place, and I feel secure walking around by myself at any time of the day or night. The physical environment has contributed much to my comfort at William & Mary. The biggest controversy that recently occured was the Board of Visitor's decision not to renew the contract of our president, Gene R. Nichol. The entire school shut down for two days in protest of a decision that many saw as politically motivated (Nichol had stirred up plenty of controversy in his 2-year tenure at William & Mary, much of which surrounded his attempts to make the school more diverse and inclusive). Although most of the students, faculty, and William & Mary community stand in opposition to the Board's decision and are disappointed to see such a talented and visionary man leave, the reaction of our community is testament to the unity and pride that we have in our school. Many students staged protests and tirelessly wrote letters to the Board and to local news sources, voicing their discontent, and professors held teach-ins to discuss the events. But the important lesson of this incident is that no administrative decision can remove our unity or passion for our school, nor can it dampen the sentiments of inclusion and progressiveness that Nichol inspired.
I think by far one of the best things about William and Mary is the love the people involved have for this school. Faculty, staff, and students all seem to really care not only about how their lives are improved by being here, but about the College's future. I also really love that all of my classes have been taught by my professor, with the occasional exception of a lab. I do wish we had the money to fund renovation projects more often and that there was more parking on campus. I think the size of our student body is perfect. When I tell people from near Virginia that I go to William and Mary many comment that it is a good school and that I must be smart; when talking to someone from a completely different area, however, the comment I receive the most is: "Is that a Catholic school?" due to the nature of the name. I spend the majority of my time either in my on campus housing, in classrooms, the Daily Grind, or outside on the UC terrace whenever possible. There is a decided lack of a college town atmosphere in Williamsburg, it seems to be more of a "retirement town" with way too many pancake houses and very few night life options. The biggest recent controversy on campus was the failure of the Board of Visitors to renew Gene Nichol's contract and his subsequent resignation. I have a feeling that the white supremacist speaker that is due on campus next week will be an issue as well. I think that William and Mary students do take pride in their alma mater, but I feel it is done in a subtle manner. You won't see many people decked out in green and gold camping out before a game, but when something happens to the school and its members, such as the Gene Nichol controversy, there is an outpouring of voices about our school. I think one of the most unusual things about William and Mary is despite the large amount of civic activism the students have, as well as the amount of volunteer work we do for the community, we have a very poor "green" system. You would think that with as much as we care about other issues, we'd want a greener campus too. I will always remember yule log ceremonies, Gene Nichol's resignation, and quite a few personal memories from my time here. The complaints often seen involve lack of new buildings and parking, that the cobblestone is hard to walk on, and that the UC food is UC food.
Helen JuniorReviews provided by: Unigo