Loud AU students, off-campus parties and complaints from residents prompted the administration to send out letters to the AU community reminding students about AU’s Good Neighbor Relations Guide.
The university strongly advises students against underage drinking and encourages students to be good neighbors, said Dr. Rob Hrdasky, assistant vice president of Campus Life and dean of students, in an Aug. 20 e-mail he sent out to students.
Most complaints about AU students are related to public drunkenness and disorderly behavior like vandalism, according to Chief Michael McNair, director of Public Safety.
Most of these complaints are made directly to the Metropolitan Police Department. It is rare that complaints go directly to AU, McNair said.
“Since most cases are not on campus, they are referred to MPD,” he said. “If MPD responds, they handle the situation as appropriate. The Dean of Students Office reviews the complaints by address and if AU students are identified, they are called in for a meeting or information session.”
Students are then told that their off-campus conduct can be adjudicated as violations of the student code of conduct. Whether on campus or off, the student code of conduct applies, McNair said.
David Carpenter, a junior in the School of Public Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences, has dealt with several noise complaints from a neighbor. He lives in a house on Nebraska Avenue.
“There was one woman who complained a lot, but she complained about multiple houses on our street, not just ours,” Carpenter said. “However, it wasn’t a big problem and whenever it happened, the police just told us to quiet down.”
Renting a single-family home and living in it with multiple roommates is often the cheapest living option for college students. In neighborhoods around Catholic University, police have adopted a zero-tolerance policy for disorderly conduct, according to The Washington Post.
In 2001, the D.C. zoning board refused to allow George Washington University to increase enrollment until at least 70 percent of students lived on campus.
Dan Principato, a junior in the School of Public Affairs, admits to being a loud and disruptive neighbor but has not had any complaints. He lives in an apartment, fifteen minutes from AU.
“Our neighbor is like ninety years old,” he said. “She’s probably deaf. If you’re going to live off campus, live next to an old person.”
Principato also advises keeping your parties small and visitors to a minimum.
“Don’t have too many people over,” he said. “That way you prevent noise complaints from angry neighbors.”
Jon Schwartz, a junior in the School of Public Affairs, lives in a fraternity house near Tenleytown. He believes making friends with neighbors is the best way to avoid conflict. When Schwartz first moved in, he and his brothers introduced themselves to their neighbors and brought them a bottle of wine.
“Get to know your neighbors and make them understand you’re college students,” he said. “We may be loud sometimes, but we told them to call us [if we are] and we’ll tone it down. It’s all about community outreach: making sure they like us and we like them.”
The Department of Public Safety hopes to educate students about their responsibility to be good neighbors, citizens and representatives of AU. McNair hopes this will make them police themselves. Those that do not comply and are identified by neighbors or the MPD will be referred to the Student Conduct Office, McNair said.