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Residents respond to off-East noise

University administrators participated Sept. 24 in their second meeting with Durham homeowners in Trinity Heights-the off-East Campus neighborhood where some students reside-to discuss concerns with students' noise and partying.

Christine Westfall of Clarendon Street, who requested the initial Sept. 3 meeting with Duke officials, said the University's acquisition of houses in the adjacent Trinity Park neighborhood in March 2006 caused partying to spill over into Trinity Heights.

The University should take measures to actively police the "known party houses" off campus Westfall said.

"I'd like to see Duke make policy changes that would really encourage student partying, especially fraternity partying, to happen on campus," she said. "We have yet to have an indication that Duke is making any type of policy change."

Although Westfall said she does not think much progress has occurred, she added that she did not want to appear too critical of the University for agreeing to participate in the initial meeting and the follow-up discussion. Westfall said her undergraduate experience at Northwestern University convinced her that having fraternity houses on campus is preferable to policies that encourage fraternities to live together off campus.

"It makes sense to contain them in an area where the fraternity lifestyle is accepted and appropriate, which just doesn't work in residential neighborhoods," she said. "When you move off campus, you [should] shift to the type of lifestyle that normal residents of the city have."

This is the third year during which problems have occurred on Clarendon Street due to partying, Westfall said, noting that members of an unrecognized fraternity had moved into houses next door and across the street from her.

"Groups of students who are living off campus and representing themselves as fraternities are not recognized by the University," Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek said. "We can still respond to the behavior of individuals but we would not be able to respond in any way to the behavior of the group."

Wasiolek attended the Sept. 24 meeting along with other University administrators, members of the Duke University Police Department and Durham City Council member Mike Woodard.

Duke provides a rich offering of on-campus events, said Wasiolek, citing an increase in the number of on-campus section parties held this semester. She said DUPD would respond to Westfall's request for greater policing.

"One of the things that we talked about at the meeting was having [DUPD] organized in such a way that they can have more organized and frequent patrols of the neighborhoods," Wasiolek said.

Trinity Heights residents were given contact information for Christine Pesetski, assistant dean for off-campus and mediation services, at the meeting last week. Pesetski, who declined to comment for this story, was hired specifically to address these issues and serve as a first contact for the Trinity Heights Neighborhood Association, Wasiolek said.

Senior Melanie Wright, who lives in Trinity Heights and attended last week's meeting, said she had noticed a disconnect between how students live and how Durham residents expect them to behave. Wright said she could serve as an intermediary between students and neighborhood residents, adding that most Duke students are interested in being good neighbors.

"It really comes down two houses," she said. "They have a fraternity meeting one night a week and it just kind of turns into a party after that."

Wasiolek said a third meeting with more representatives from the City of Durham is tentatively planned for later this month.


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