Rowdy partyers prompt policing

Matthew DeFour

Evanston Police Department has asked University Police to help patrol off-campus student housing in the Fifth Ward this weekend in response to resident complaints about student behavior at off-campus parties.

Ald. Joseph Kent (5th) and NU administrators met Tuesday at the Evanston Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave., with residents who told horror stories of students vandalizing property, urinating in bushes, breaking bottles in front yards and verbally intimidating homeowners.

“What we’re seeing is an escalating level of animosity,” said Catherine Whitcomb, assistant to the vice president for student affairs. “What people are saying who live immediately adjacent to the university is that they are seeing a level of disrespect for other people’s privacy and comfort that they have never seen before.”

Kent organized the meeting with Whitcomb, who along with other university officials have become concerned with what she deemed “totally uncivilized behavior from a group of people who should know better.”

Whitcomb said she spoke with one woman who said students had told her, “We know you live alone.”

Lt. Nicholas Parashis of UP said a city ordinance allows university officers to enforce laws within a certain radius of campus, but in order to patrol outlying areas they must receive permission from EPD.

Parashis said resident concerns about loud parties, unruly student behavior and vandalism prompted EPD’s request.

Jessica Donnelly hosted a meeting for neighbors Tuesday evening in her home at 906 Hamlin St. and said those gathered were unified in their discontent.

After years of relatively few complaints, Donnelly said area residents have been bombarded by unruly students littering yards with broken glass and plastic cups. She said in two weeks someone has called the police almost every night.

“Northwestern is in my front yard and I can accept that, but it is my front yard,” Donnelly said. “What my neighbors have a problem with this year is the vandalism to our private property and the disregard for our private lives.”

Deborah Silver, who lives at 913 Hamlin St., said students living next door demolished part of her backyard fence to link her yard with students living behind them. She said parties with hundreds of students have lasted until 4 a.m. and kept her young children awake.

“Up until recently I’ve had a really good relationship with the kids next store,” said Silver, Weinberg ’74. “We would give them a call and not the police. But this year it’s like they just don’t give a damn.”

Silver said she routinely cleans up glass shards from her front yard where her 3-year-old daughter plays. One night a friend’s car had been moved from her driveway into the street, she said.

Communication junior Jessica Sherry, who lives at 1118 Foster St., said groups such as the Fireman’s Park Neighborhood Association do not help the situation by regulating noise and posting notices without leaving their phone number.

“We gave our number out because we stay up late,” Sherry said. “I don’t think it matters because people are going to be angry whether we give out our phone number or not.”

Interfraternity Council President James Troupis, the only NU student to attend either meeting, addressed resident concerns about off-campus Greek parties at the Hamlin Street meeting.

“(Residents at the meeting) are more frustrated than angry,” Troupis said. “It’s hard to find this middle ground because we are college students who do have social lives. It’s not so much the fact that college students are being social. It has everything to do with respect.”

Silver, who lived two blocks from her current residence when she attended NU in the ’70s, said although there still were rowdy parties, the community still managed to work together to promote civility.

She and Donnelly both said for the first time they have had problems with neighbors not extending themselves to the rest of the community. Previously, students would introduce themselves and give warnings about upcoming parties, Silver said.

This weekend Silver, Donnelly and other residents will be knocking on doors to ask their neighbors to keep the noise levels reasonable. Still, they believe the issue is much deeper and needs to be addressed by students, residents and the university.

“I like the fact that students live next door and that we all live in the same community together,” Silver said. “I just think there have to be some controls and they have to come from both the community and the university.”