Representatives from several campus fraternities met with University administrators Friday to discuss ongoing issues of residential disturbances resulting from fraternity parties. The meeting, called at the request of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), was prompted by recent complaints of vandalism and noise that were filed by residents living along South University Avenue.
“Some community members had been raising some concerns about noise and vandalism and, what I would generally say, how our students act in the community,” said Bill Michel, assistant vice president for student life. “They had been raising the issue with the Chicago Police, particularly how it relates to times when there are larger social parties at the fraternities.”
While the meeting did not result in any new University or police policies, the CPD said that it would continue enforcing current Chicago statutes on residential disturbances.
“[The neighbors] said that our parties are making people drunk, who then go messing with their stuff,” said Eric Vazquez, president of Psi Upsilon, one of the fraternities represented at the session. “Of course, they said that this was an ongoing problem over the past decade. Basically, they referred to acts that had happened over the past 10 or 12 years.”
“I wouldn’t say that a new policy has been implemented. The fraternities are independent institutions in the neighborhood, and we have always tried to manage a relationship between the University and the fraternities beneficial for everyone,” Michel said. “The police did want to remind the fraternities what the Chicago laws were and said they would work to enforce those regulations when needed.”
Vazquez also said that the CPD did not specify any new disciplinary procedures, but emphasized its commitment to a zero-tolerance policy on neighborhood disturbance.
“Basically, they said they don’t want anyone drinking in a public way,” Vazquez said. “They said they would implement a zero-tolerance policy, but I didn’t hear of anyone getting arrested this [past] weekend. So it’s still pretty vague right now.”
For now, it seems that the University fraternities and their guests are taking the message to heart, as evidenced by the decreased noise level along University Avenue this past weekend, Michel said.
“As far as I know, the parties that were held last weekend did not result in any community concerns or complaints. In fact, there was a notable reduction in noise, which is exactly what we had hoped would happen,” he said.
Michel and Vazquez agree on one point: that University students can play an active role in reducing resident complaints by remaining conscious of their conduct at fraternity and apartment parties.
“We do also get complaints from other [Hyde Park] residents about large apartment parties. We need to be good neighbors and treat [community members] with respect. My hope is that we can use this as an opportunity to remind ourselves of this,” Michel said.
“Students can really help the situation too. I do want people to know not to mess with anything, not to start shouting outside or throwing bottles at parties,” Vazquez said.
“This is a college campus and there will always be parties. But we understand where [community members] are coming from, and we’ll try to accommodate them while still having parties for students,” he added.
The dialogue between University administrators and the fraternities will continue in upcoming weeks during follow-up meetings.