Dean of students video addresses student-neighbor relations

By Alexis Blue
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, February 24, 2005

In an effort to improve relationships between students living off campus and their non-student neighbors, the Dean of Students Office is producing a video to address common problems between students and neighbors.

The project is reminiscent of the "Arizona Idol" video the Dean of Students Office created in 2003 to address disruptive behavior in the classroom, which is shown at new student orientations and in classes at a professor's request.

The new video aims to make students aware of conflicts with neighbors, particularly those involved in loud parties and alcohol use.

The Dean of Students Office received several complaints from residents of near-campus neighborhoods about the behavior of students living in the same areas, said Anthony Skevakis, program coordinator of judicial affairs and educational outreach in the Dean of Students Office.

After surveying some of those residents, loud parties emerged as one of the biggest concerns.

"Noise was the No. 1 issue people had a complaint about," said Skevakis, director of the video project.

Excessive alcohol consumption and garbage were the next biggest worries, Skevakis said.

"It's our hope with the video that we address this behavior and improve the situation," he said. "Students and neighbors can unanimously agree that respect, forming a relationship and courtesy are three things they would like to see happen."

Students were also surveyed about relations with their neighbors, and most said they would prefer neighbors knock on their doors to ask them to be quiet rather than calling police, who could issue the students a red tag citation that prohibits parties or gatherings of more than five people for 180 days.

Skevakis said he hopes the video can educate students who might not be aware of the consequences of having loud parties or might not think about how their behavior affects their neighbors.

"It's about communication and respect," Skevakis said. "Neighbors don't hate UA students. They like them."

Skevakis said many of the non-students living near campus work either on or near campus and interact with students regularly.

Jamie McKenzie, an undeclared sophomore, lives in a neighborhood west of campus where many families live.

McKenzie said she and her friends try to be considerate when they have parties, but have been asked by neighbors to quiet down in the past - once when a friend was playing bongos on the front porch at 1 a.m.

Since then, two ministers have moved in next door, and McKenzie said she and her roommates might have to be even more careful about controlling the noise.

Emily Johnson, a communications sophomore, said she's been to several parties about which neighbors have complained.

She said she thinks a video to address neighbor relations is a good idea because students moving on their own for the first time might not know about red tags or think about how their actions impact the family next door.

"You can have a good time and still be respectful," Johnson said.

But some students are skeptical the video will work.

"If you don't know how to act by the time you get to college (a video) is not going to help," said Angela Spann, a women's studies senior.

The Dean of Students Office hosted two roundtable discussions this month with students and neighbors to talk about concerns of both parties. Parts of the discussions will be featured in the video, which is scheduled for completion next month.

The video will be shown at new student orientations and off-campus housing fairs. It might also be shown intermittently on the televisions in the Student Union Memorial Center food court, Skavakis said.

About 20 student volunteers and 12 non-student neighbors will appear in the film, which will include skits as well as serious discussions.

Skevakis said he hopes the video will be "educational, but also entertaining."