October 1, 2020

Podcasts on UMW Activism Spell ‘Good Trouble’ for Students

Eliza Vegas marched in her first protest this summer for Black Lives Matter. The University of Mary Washington is inspiring her to do more. “An overwhelming sense of home and community brought me here,” said Vegas, a Mary Washington first-year student who learned of the University’s long history of student activism when she listened to […]

March and Resolution Demonstrate Mary Washington’s Stance

Several hundred University of Mary Washington students, faculty and staff marched from Campus Walk to Market Square in Fredericksburg last week in support of racial equality and Black Lives Matter. Photo courtesy of Dean of Student Life Cedric Rucker.

Several hundred University of Mary Washington students, faculty and staff marched from Campus Walk to Market Square in Fredericksburg last week in support of racial equality and Black Lives Matter. Photo courtesy of Dean of Student Life Cedric Rucker.

Eight minutes and 46 seconds.

After walking from the University of Mary Washington campus to downtown Fredericksburg’s Market Square, a contingent of several hundred UMW protesters became silent as march organizer Kyree Ford ’21 set the timer on his iPhone. He directed the marchers to quietly observe the length of time a Minneapolis police officer held his knee on George Floyd’s neck, ultimately terminating his life.

Unimaginable, is the way Ford, incoming president of the UMW Student Government Association (SGA), described it. The UMW Board of Visitors, in a meeting yesterday, shared that sentiment in a resolution stating that on May 25 “for eight minutes and forty-six seconds an officer knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck, as Mr. Floyd called out for his life saying, ‘I can’t breathe.’”

Further, stated the Board resolution, “around the world people from all nationalities, ethnic and racial backgrounds, and walks of life have assembled to protest, march and rally to mourn Mr. Floyd’s death and express their outrage with the social injustice of systemic racism that has led to the deaths of George Perry Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and so many more.”

The resolution, which passed unanimously, resolved that the Board supports the family of George Floyd and “stands with the thousands in our country and around the world, including members of the Mary Washington community, who have engaged in peaceful protests to affirm that Black Lives Matter, and to call for an end to the social injustice and systemic racism that permeates the fabric of our country.”

Ford said he and the SGA Cabinet “felt moved to do something during this very difficult time.” How crazy, he said, that in the midst of a deadly pandemic, “we have to go out and fight for our lives.”

Last Friday’s hastily organized march drew students, faculty, staff and administrators, many carrying signs. President Troy Paino and his family joined in. Ford said he was overwhelmed by the turnout. What that level of participation, even in a time of social distancing, says to him is: “Mary Washington is on the right side in terms of race relations.”

The Board resolution reinforced that sense for Ford. Also impressive, he added, is the step taken by President Paino and his wife Kelly to initiate with a $5,000 challenge gift a scholarship in memory of George Floyd. The scholarship, which has a goal of $100,000, is designed to promote the development of leadership skills for students committed to addressing societal issues disproportionately affecting black and underrepresented communities.

Ford said the SGA has called upon various campus groups to create a video and will plan other events later in the summer and after students arrive on campus. “We want to reaffirm that everyone has a place at Mary Washington.”

Vice President of Student Affairs Juliette Landphair, who participated in the march, praised the activism and initiative of the SGA. “It was a powerful reflection of our community values and the energy of our students.” She added, “As Dr. James Farmer once expressed, ‘freedom and equality are inherent rights in the United States; therefore, I encourage young people to take on the task by standing up and speaking out on behalf of people denied those rights.’”

March and Resolution Demonstrate Mary Washington’s Stance

Eight minutes and 46 seconds. After walking from the University of Mary Washington campus to downtown Fredericksburg’s Market Square, a contingent of several hundred UMW protesters became silent as march organizer Kyree Ford ’21 set the timer on his iPhone. He directed the marchers to quietly observe the length of time a Minneapolis police officer […]

French Study Abroad Sparks Joy in Alumnus

Stephen Lamm ’19 was a junior at Mary Washington when he studied abroad at the foot of the Alps. During those four months, he learned to speak fluent French and trekked across Europe. He also lost his grandfather – and found himself. As an openly gay student who led UMW’s College Republicans, Lamm spent his […]

UMW Students Turn Out to Help Community

Hundreds of University of Mary Washington students spent a recent Saturday in local neighborhoods as part of the university’s Good Neighbor Day. The more than 250 students, representing numerous campus groups and sports teams, completed 20 projects in the neighborhoods surrounding UMW, totaling more than 1,000 hours of community service. Click here to view the embedded video. The students, joined by President Richard V. Hurley and faculty and staff members, helped with yard work and landscaping projects, organized garages and sheds and cleaned trash from local trails. An effort of UMW’s Student Government Association, Good Neighbor Day gave students an opportunity to interact with their Fredericksburg neighbors. “A lot of students said it was very cool to participate in something so large,” said Jeremy Thompson, president of SGA. “They were hoping they can make a positive impact in the community.” Kagan McSpadden, director of community outreach for SGA, was ecstatic over the success of the effort. “Everyone was so supportive and appreciative,” she said. “We had a huge outpouring from the community.”

Fostering Leadership

SGA President encourages students to make their voices heard.