Really Really Free Market Stopped by Trustees
April 14, 2013
The Really Really Free Market has operated on the wall outside McMurran Hall for the last five years. Currently, a policy newly enforced by the McMurran Trustees has disrupted the RRFM’s current location.
The RRFM is held the last Saturday and Sunday of the month from March to November. The community members, students and townsfolk meet and bring with them usable goods that they no longer have a use for. The goods are then laid out for anyone to take for free.
The RRFM was founded with the intention to recycle unusable items within the Shepherd community. The market currently offers other services as well, such as bike repair, again at no cost. The participants of the RRFM feel that it gives the town a unique attribute that provides a sense of community.
On April 2, the trustees met with Robert Glenn, a founder and participant in the RRFM, to enforce a policy regarding the use of the space in front of McMurran Hall.
According to Alan Perdue, general counsel, the trustees had learned that the RRFM was planning on starting back up and felt that it was “improper to ignore the fact that we have been allowing this private association of people to make a recurring use of our university facility in a manner that is inconsistent with our university policies as to facilities.”
Perdue is referencing the fact that while the RRFM is in operation, the materials brought by community members are left stretched across the McMurran wall and grounds for periods of time. The trustees have made no comment regarding anyone sitting on the wall or grounds.
Perdue additionally stated that all feedback received by the trustees from the community has been negative and has “expressed concern about congestion of the sidewalk” and “detraction from the stately presentation of McMurran Hall.”
According to Glenn, the RRFM was given permission to operate by Shepherd’s Program Board and has never heard a complaint about the location. The RRFM also has volunteers who clean the area up afterward, ensuring that the unwanted goods are donated to such places as Goodwill and other charities.
Lillian Potter-Saum of The Local Source WV located on German Street, said, “The Really Really Free Market is a community-centered event that serves a need in a community that prides itself on its sustainability. It should not be hidden.”
Glenn expressed his desire to negotiate with the trustees regarding the future of the RRFM at Shepherd. The students and community members who have been involved with the RRFM are petitioning for the RRFM to remain in place at its current location. The group is attempting to move into a state of compliance with the trustees’ policy, including liability and leasing aspects, which they were not aware of at the time the RRFM was granted permission to function.
Other students have stood up to talk about their love of the RRFM as well. The students are voicing their support of the RRFM, discussing “amazing finds” such as earrings, centerpieces and unique candleholders. Comments found on the petition site for the RRFM express a sense of confusion at the trustees’ actions.
There is an online petition regarding support for the RRFM located at www.change.org. This online petition had 278 signatures at the time of press.