Admins continue talks with city on noise, partying

University administrators continued their ongoing discussion with neighborhood residents about student partying off East Campus Wednesday.

It was the third in a series of meetings between Trinity Heights neighborhood residents and University representatives, and it focused on the city of Durham's role in policing off-campus "party houses" and responding to noise complaints.

City Manager Tom Bonfield and City Council member Mike Woodard represented Durham at the meeting.

"The city itself wanted to make a point that they are active in policing party problems," said Christine Westfall, who lives on Clarendon Street and led neighborhood efforts to arrange the Sept. 3 and Sept. 24 meetings with administrators. "There was a little bit of back and forth about what is the appropriate level of involvement in policing partying."

Westfall suggested that Durham look down 15-501 toward Chapel Hill for an example of how to deal with off-campus parties. The town has created a permanent committee that holds quarterly meetings to discuss neighborhood concerns about student partying near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she noted.

"Over there residents complained about UNC party houses and the town responded proactively," she said. "It's not just responding to a crisis."

Westfall said she had noticed less problems with noise and partying this semester than in past years, and she was pleased with Duke's efforts to encourage student parties and social events to remain on campus.

"We would like to see Duke proactively police the parties [off-campus]. We applaud the trend of more social and party events on campus," she said.

Although the University played a smaller role in this discussion than in the past two meetings, Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek, Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, and Christine Pesetski, assistant dean for off-campus and mediation services, represented Duke.

Duke and Durham have a shared responsibility to address the neighborhood residents' concerns, Wasiolek said.

"The arrangement is that Durham is the first responder and Duke is able to respond," she said. "It was important that we be there because we are part of the dialogue."

Wasiolek said she felt communication and coordination between Durham Police Department and Duke University Police Department was functioning effectively and added that the University would continue to monitor the situation.

Sophomore Andrew Brown, Duke Student Government's vice president for Durham and regional affairs, also attended the meeting Wednesday. He said in an interview afterwards that Trinity Heights residents want to see DUPD implement a stricter alcohol enforcement policy off-campus. Although there were more than 300 on-campus alcohol offenses noted in the 2007 Clery Report, there were only three liquor law arrests reported off-campus.

"They don't care that we are drinking, they just don't want to be bothered by it," he said, adding that residents may be underestimating DUPD's enforcement. "I don't think the Duke police is as lax as they seem to think they are."

Brown agreed that DUPD and DPD were communicating effectively, but he said DPD could do a better job of understanding the perspective of partying students.

Westfall said the residents scheduled a final meeting with the University for Nov. 13 to draft a list of resolutions for the problems.


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