Really, Really Free Market Reinstated

Late last spring Shepherd University student Robbie Glenn was preparing for a trip to Costa Rica, finishing up finals, and much to his surprise, meeting with the University’s legal counsel, Alan Perdue. Glenn was not accused of doing anything dishonest or illegal, he had simply spearheaded the Really, Really Free Market, which met on the wall in front of McMurran Hall once a month. The McMurran Society, which has full reign of the Hall requested that the event be stopped, and as the founder, the request was made of Glenn. Glenn has been hanging out on the wall, like many students, since he was 15. Over those years he never knew of any University or town rules governing the structure. While a student at Shepherd, he heard of the idea of free markets, which had taken hold in Europe and other parts of the United States. The idea is simple. People bring things they no longer need and trade them to other people with no cost associated. With that formula in mind, Glenn decided to establish a free market in Shepherdstown, dubbed the Really, Really Free Market. The Market started small, but soon took off, attracting town residents, members of the business community and even curious tourists as they passed through Shepherdstown. Glenn was thrilled by the success and “never imagined it would become so popular.” Not everyone was happy about the event, though. While Glenn asserted no one every directly complained to him about the presence of the Market, he did pick up second hand comments from one or two business owners who believed it looked dirty or messy. During the four years of the Market’s existence, Glenn remembers seeing Shepherdstown Police employees, and Shepherd University officials, none of whom approached him or any of the participants with any concerns or complaints. Someone must have come forward with complaints, though, because Glenn was asked to meet with Perdue. Upon meeting with the University staff, Glenn was told that the Market’s existence on the wall did not meet with the designated uses permitted for McMurran Hall, and that the wall was considered part of the lawn. While a process is in place to request use of the lawn, Glenn felt any request made would almost certainly be denied. He felt he had no option but “to forget Shepherd” and “take his case to the town.” Glenn did just that. On Aug. 13, he appeared before the Shepherdstown Town Council with support, including students, townspeople and University faculty to plead his case. He was armed with two petitions: a paper one with over 300 signatures, and one that circulated on with another 313 signatures, all in favor of the restoration of the Really, Really Free Market. Upon making brief remarks before the Council, Glenn emphasized that “the Free Market is a part of Shepherdstown now and it does bring a lot of people to the community.” He further reiterated the Market’s continued desire to be orderly and to dispose of any remaining items at the end of each event. The Shepherdstown Town Council took swift action, approving the request to hold the Market on town property on a provisional basis. The Market will set up on Sept. 1 and if all regulations are followed, Glenn will appear before the Council again to request use of the space on specific dates for the remainder of the year. The news spread quickly, with many photographs of supporters and congratulatory comments appearing on Facebook. Jade Flamenco, a senior English and environmental science major said: “It [the Market] shows how the student body is determined to uphold traditions that it would see set in place, which involve the community with the student body.” Flamenco is a town resident and former employee of a town business, and has seen the impact of the Market firsthand. Audra Costlow, a recent Shepherd graduate, and town resident flew to the Market’s defense, communicating the following to The Picket: “The Really, Really Free Market is not only harmless, but is extremely beneficial to the community. It promotes the sharing, recycling, and donation of gently used goods, and some residents rely on it as one of the only places they can afford to shop. Shutting it down for being an eye-sore is blatant class-ism at work.” A request for input and commentary from Alan Perdue, legal counsel for Shepherd University, yielded no response.

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