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Parties give neighbors headaches

By Debra Hollander
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Common complaints include trash, noise, lack of parking

In neighborhoods where rental signs are more common than flowerbeds; where weekends are often filled with the clamor of drunken party-goers, and being able to park in front of your own house in the evening is a rarity, residents worry their once-peaceful communities are being transformed into "student slums."

"It's like letting people with 20 items into a 15 item line at the grocery store. If you allow it, they will keep doing it," said Bill Scogin, a resident of the Jefferson Park neighborhood, of the behavior of the UA students living in the area.

Jefferson Park, the community between East Grant Road and East Lester Road and North Campbell Avenue and North Euclid Avenue, is an unstable mixture of student housing, families and elderly people.

"A student's lifestyle is very different from a family's," said Kathleen Dunbar, city councilwoman for Ward 3, which includes Jefferson Park. "It's not a good mix for anyone in the neighborhood, no one is happy."

The neighborhood is 42 percent rentals and 58 percent owner occupied.

Complaints from neighbors of UA students in Jefferson Park range from issues like being kept up at night, having a lack of parking and excessive trash, to more serious concerns like personal safety, violence, underage drinking and drug dealing.

"It's kind of up and down, one year you have the neighbors from hell and the next year you have really great ones," said Jim Kluger, 63, who has lived in Jefferson Park for 27 years.

Kluger had his mailbox smashed twice in one year a couple years ago after a rowdy group of students who liked to throw parties moved in across the street.

"We can't judge kids by 1950s standards, it's a different world, but I also don't want to be wakened at three in the morning," he said.

Dunbar is trying to convince the UA that the student code of conduct should be enforced for students living off campus, not just those living within the university.

"If a student is expelled from the dorm for certain behaviors, they should be expelled from the neighborhoods for those behaviors also, otherwise where do students who were expelled from the dorms go?" she asked.

Dyer Lytle, the president of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association, said that he agrees with Dunbar's stance on the student code of conduct and has recently written a letter to UA President Peter Likins requesting that off campus students be included in it.

Not all residents agree with Dunbar and Lytle, however.

"Dealing with adults and people who have certain rights, I don't know how fascist we can be," said Kluger. "Zero tolerance is not the way to go. We live near the university, it's not a retirement center."

Students at a party on North Euclid Avenue and East University Boulevard last Friday night had differing opinions regarding the issue of off-campus parties.

"I've had times when I couldn't sleep and I wished people would shut up, and it has to be worse when you have to get up at eight o'clock," said Emily Hirleman, a biology senior. "Parties are totally cool if no one's lives are being interrupted, if no one has to stay up until four in the morning when they have a baby crying and have to go to work in the morning."

Greg Martin, who graduated from the UA in August, said that dealing with partyers is a reality that those living so close to the university have to accept.

"I think there are too many people living near campus who don't have anything to do with partying and if you don't want to have anything to do with partying you shouldn't be living near campus," said Martin. "There should be certain areas where you should be allowed to party because it's going to go on anyways."

Others think asking for permission from neighbors is all that is needed.

"If you're going to have a party, clear it with your neighbors, then have a party. It's not that hard. If they say no, don't have a party," said Ramiro Peru, an accounting senior.

The UA has not yet taken a clear stance on this issue.

"Is the young adult the responsibility of the greater community, or a responsibility of the UA, because they happen to go to the UA?" said Sandra Taylor, UA vice president of student life, at a community meeting regarding this issue on Aug. 22.

Capt. John Leavitt of the Tucson Police Department said that in the last school year there were over 400 red tags, citations for unruly gatherings, in communities surrounding the UA. Eighty percent of calls for unruly gatherings to the midtown division of the TPD are about students.

However, Dunbar, TPD and residents of Jefferson all made it clear that not all students are a problem.

"Eighty through ninety percent of students are working hard," said Leavitt. "A few students have decided that their time is more important than others."

Nathan Tafoya contributed to this story.

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