It’s Thursday, and students have switched into weekend mode. They’re ready to let loose and forget about a week filled with a variety of classes, exams, work and myriad other activities.
But a fun night out for some students could mean a late night for community members, and now university leaders are working on a plan they hope will help establish better understanding among students and community members.
“When you’re having a party, you don’t think of ‘Frank’ across the street who has to get up for work,” said Shawn Simons, president of the North Area Neighborhood Development Council. “If there was more integration in the community to acknowledge each other, there would be more respect.”
The university and community groups have been actively trying to find a solution for the past few years, but many people say there is still a lot of work to be done.
In spring 2007, the USC Office of Civic and Community Relations formed a Student-Community Relations Task Group to open a dialogue between university officials, landlords and community members about noise and student behavior in the community.
The task force, which met monthly and lasted for about a year, came up with 20 recommendations for university action the group compiled into a report.
One of the recommendations was for the university and community members to offer incoming students tours of the neighborhood. Officials are currently working on implementing this idea for this summer’s orientation sessions.
“Every year when the students have the welcome back week, we [would] do the tour,” said Kristen Soares, senior associate vice president of government relations for the USC Office of Community for Government Relations.
Such a program could be useful in helping to educate incoming students and reminding them to be courteous of their neighbors.
“There is a new group to be educated every year,” Department of Public Safety Capt. David Carlisle said. “It takes a while for them to understand the rules of conduct.”
Some students said they think parties have been going on for so long that students don’t realize they live in the neighborhood too.
“I’ve never heard of a party where someone was like, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t have this because of the people in the community,’” said Brian Nathan, a sophomore majoring in accounting.
Kaleena Patel, a sophomore majoring in biology, agreed.
“Parties have been going on for so many years on Thursday nights that I don’t think students really take their surrounding area into account,” Patel said.
But some students think such a program could be useful.
Luis Ramirez, a freshman majoring in fine arts, said, “They would be more respectful, but I don’t think that if they were informed beforehand they would party less.”
The university is also working to hold landlords accountable, not just students.
Soares noted that many landlords in the North University Park Area do not live in the buildings, so often they are not there when community members or others call with noise complaints.
Maggi Fajnor, a USC graduate and member of the task force group, said the suggestions she’s made are for more property owners to be placed on location, stricter standards for the residences and an on-call number community members or even students can call.
Kristina Raspe, associate senior vice president of USC real estate and asset management, said her office is starting to work on a website that will allow students to comment on the management of apartments in the area. For landlords to be featured on the website, she said they must have a 24-hour phone line and abide by university partying policies.
Although the website is focused on helping students and parents find trustworthy landlords in the area, she said community members will benefit too.
“It kind of forces [landlords] to not be absent if they are on that website,” Raspe said.
University officials and community members agree students and community members will have to work together and integrate to remedy loud noise in the North University Park Area.
“All we can do is really figure out how we can best be respectful of each other,” Simons said.