Neighbors sound off on noisy students
Brunswick area residents and neighbors of the College have been turning up the intensity of noise complaints against students this fall. Noise has always been an moderate issue for neighbors of the college; but the current level of complaints indicates that it has come to the forefront of their concerns. The integration of the campus into more residential areas is bringing college life to neighborhoods that are not ready for "party" behavior.
Brunswick Police Department Patrol Commander Rick Dejardins, a leader in the movement to solve the problem, said that the "relationship between the college and the neighbors has always been peaceful up until recently." This strained relationship is mostly due to weekends where, as stated by Dejardins, "what used to be a single family home on Friday and Saturday night turns into a two or three hundred people event."
The majority of the noise complaints come from the houses surrounding Garrison Avenue and Harpswell Road. In conjunction with these complaints are concerns from Longfellow Avenue residents that the traffic to and from parties is loud and disrespectful, considering the fact that students are traveling through a residential area late at night.
The issue of noise complaints is handled first by a call to either Campus Security or the Brunswick Police Department. Generally, Security handles the on-campus problems and the Police Department takes the off-campus calls. After a complaint is filed, the authorities go to the site to evaluate the validity of the call and judge whether the concern is reasonable. If an intervention is required, the members hosting the event will be approached and asked to deal with the issue.
The ultimate goal of enforcement is to make the noise stop-officials simply want voluntary compliance; however, if students refuse to cooperate, this qualifies as disorderly conduct, a criminal offense. In addition to the issue of noise, traffic to and from parties is a concern to homeowners who feel uncomfortable and unsafe with intoxicated students trespassing late at night through residential yards.
"This isn't about neighbors angry that someone is having a party; these are really people who are scared in their homes," Desjardins said.
The problem of noise and respect is being dealt with on all fronts, and the presence of Campus Security on the streets surrounding the school has been increased for Friday and Saturday nights. Bruce Boucher, Director of Security at Bowdoin, explained "[we] patrol specific areas [where] we know we will run into this problem."
The objective in doing this is to remind students to remain quiet and respectful on their trips back to their dorms and apartments. The Brunswick Police Department has also become involved in the intervention, aiding Security whenever necessary. Members of the town are not the only ones raising awareness and seeking a solution to this issue; many students also want to join in the effort so that the disruptive actions of others will not reflect on the school. According to Desjardins, "[people are] concerned the Bowdoin name or Bowdoin relationship in the town is going to be affected by this [problem]."
Bowdoin Students for Respectful Brunswick-Bowdoin Relations (BSRBBR), a group involved in reaching a compromise to the noise problem, is led by seniors Libby Bourke and Corinne Pellegrini. The group meets with all parties involved to achieve their goal, which according to Dean of Student Affairs Craig Bradley, is to "build some mutual understanding and respect." According to its members, BSRBBR is interested in getting to the bottom of problem, and helping the campus educate students. Members are looking into working with off-campus residents and helping them build cooperation with their neighbors, in addition to reminding them to encourage their guests to be polite on their walks home.
Off-campus housing is not the only target of criticism; members are considering a meeting with all College Houses to allow enforcement to establish a relationship with them. Dejardins explained that social houses need to be concerned about their guests' behavior as it is "unacceptable for students here at Bowdoin to essentially ruin it for the whole-to be doing things that are disorderly in the public and then going to social houses in the community [which] essentially [puts] that social house in jeopardy of closing."
Ideally, after working with the campus, BSRBBR and other groups hope to create an environment on campus where loud and disorderly behavior is socially unacceptable. Although many steps are being taken to find a resolution to this problem, Bradley remains realistic: "[noise] is an issue that will always be with us [for] students are lively and active and keep different hours from most of the neighbors."
Even though pleasing both campus members and town residents is nearly impossible, Dejardins warned that the noise problem "could impact everybody: alums topotential students, this is a big issue-how Bowdoin's reputation carries after this event is going to make a big difference." For further information regarding this concern, a meeting open to all will be held in Moulton Union at 8:00 PM Wednesday, October 9.