JMU leaders say the naming of the new residence hall after Paul Jennings is a step toward confronting racism that has been embedded in the history of the campus and its namesake, as well as the Harrisonburg community, the commonwealth of Virginia and the country. But some people, including students and community activists in Harrisonburg, are asking what this might signal about the renaming of other buildings on JMU’s campus — the ones named after confederate leaders.
The next superintendent of Harrisonburg City Schools is expected to be named at the school board’s next meeting in two weeks after board members ended their meeting Tuesday in closed session to hash out details of the job’s contract. “We are targeting March 5 for the announcement” of the new superintendent, said Deb Fitzgerald, the board’s chairwoman.
While the local jail population continues to grow, the record-keeping systems used by law enforcement, the courts and other pieces of the local criminal justice system remain stuck in the past, complicating efforts to understand what’s driving that population growth or to begin addressing it. Within a year, however, new insight into local criminal justice trends could be coming from two different sources.
On a Friday afternoon, six members of the James Madison University Overwatch team gather around a TV screen, watching tape from a “scrim session” – gamerspeak for scrimmage – earlier in the week. “Look where we are right now. We’re really far back,” says Mark “Sanity” Johnson, the team captain, pointing at the screen. “We should be here right now.”
While some say different circumstances call for different outcomes, a bill now moving through the General Assembly would create a mandatory prison sentence for certain kinds of threats made against schools in Virginia. Though the law is a response to the increase in threats made against schools in parts of Virginia, local school administrators say they have not seen an increase in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.