Post Author: dollinca
Student skating in a Harrisonburg residential neighborhood. Bluestone 1978, page 10.
1979 served to be a drastic change from the years preceding it. Growing divisions between the students and the community led to various zoning changes making it more difficult for students to find housing off campus. In the wake of the decisions of ’78 however, it seemed as though everything had been forgotten.
The Breeze came to the realization that not only was it quiet within the student body regarding the recent zoning fiasco, but that studies regarding the effects of the changes on commuter students were never conducted. Thus 300 surveys were sent to commuter students living in residential neighborhoods in Harrisonburg. Alarmingly, only thirty-six responded. Even more striking, eleven did not know of any zoning ordinances and only one student knew which zone he lived in. According to the writer, Maureen Riley, students were apathetic because to them the issue was over, dead. Many students from the last year graduated and moved on, ushering in a new year’s supply of commuter students. The issue was not permanent to the students as it was, and still is to the residents of Harrisonburg, according to Riley.(Riley, research)
Furthermore, after the creation of a Community Relations Committee, a post office box was also created for city residents to mail concerns or complaints regarding students. After four weeks of the box being in service, only one complaint was received and was resolved quickly. Throughout the rest of the spring and fall of 1979, reports in The Breeze were consistent in regards to the lack of complaints, or perhaps use in general, of the community relations box.(Riley, relations)
1979 is many ways served to be a break in the town-gown divide. New commuter students were apathetic towards the previous generations battles simply because it was only a temporary home. The students understood this and moved on. This calm should not be mistaken however. An article written by Dwayne Yancey and Debbie yard at the height of the 1978 zoning battle foreshadowed future community relations. In it, Student Body President Darrell Pile was quoted with stating in regards to the future zoning changes “it will be the beginning of a very poor relationship between the university and the community.”(Yancey and Yard) In a February 1979 editorial, Yancey added to these predictions. “The growth of JMU is the single most important issue which has faced the school and the community in the 1970’s, and will no doubt continue to be so in the coming decade.”(Yancey, Growth)
Both Yancey and alumnus Susanne Myers were on the same page in their analysis of James Madison’s growth during the seventies and its impact on the community. All of the good that Madison has brought to Harrisonburg should never be overlooked. During a time of great economic uncertainty, an influx of students poured money into the local economy. However there was no way of the town to know in 1970 that by the decade’s end it would be a growing city. In many ways it was suprised by President Carrier’s dreams of growth and spent the next ten years having to deal with the expansion. In 1979, Dwight Yancey, a student, questioned how much more Harrisonburg could take of the growth of its city due to the growth of the school it at one time cherished. Thirty years later, as James Madison Continues to expand, and Harrisonburg’s population continues to exponentially grow, there is still much “offense” taken at the school’s growth, and there are still many who question how much more Harrisonburg will take.
Riley, Maureen, “City-University Relations Box Empty,” The Breeze. February 6, 1979. Page 6.
Riley, Maureen “Commuter Effects Never Researched,” The Breeze. October 16, 1979. Page 26.
Yancey, Dwayne and Debbie Yard, “Meeting Pleases Most But No Minds Changed,” The Breeze. September 15, 1978. Page 2, 25.
Yancey, Dwayne, “Growth Causes Disturbing Changes” The Breeze. February 16, 1979. Page 18.