Community campaign aims to quiet student disorderliness

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Berkeley residents living near Clark Kerr Campus are fed up with loud student parties and the noise the parties produce.

A local association called the Piedmont/Parker Neighborhood Watch launched what they are calling a Quiet Campaign on Friday in an attempt to quell student noise and drunken disorderliness by putting up posters and raising community awareness.

The project is part of the group’s Happy Neighbors Project, a larger effort to deal with disruptive student behavior near the Clark Kerr Campus and surrounding area. The project works in partnership with [email protected], a campaign run through the campus’s University Health Services that aims to reduce alcohol-related risks for the campus community by promoting safe partying practices.

“There are people really binge drinking, especially underage,” said Phil Bokovoy, block captain for the Piedmont/Parker Neighborhood Watch. “People relieve themselves in the driveways and gardens. There’s a lot of vandalism. A couple weeks ago, I had to call the police to come and transport a kid to the hospital.”

The pilot project will continue into late fall and will incentivize students with Pet Hugs and People Treats — an event filled with opportunities to play with pets and receive ice cream rewards — while also reiterating the benefits of creating a more harmonious community, Bokovoy said.

Much of the project’s activity is funded by a $7,500 grant from the Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund awarded last year and is one of the first efforts of its kind, said Julie Sinai, director of local government and community affairs at UC Berkeley.

If the pilot project is successful, it might be expanded to reach more neighborhoods, Sinai said.

Clark Kerr resident and freshman Alma Pastor, however, said she has not noticed the issue of drunken behavior at Clark Kerr being that serious.

“There certainly are a lot of people walking around, but it’s not like that big of a deal,” Pastor said.

But according to Sinai, the noise and drunkenness issue is not a new problem for the Berkeley community.

“It’s an issue that has been a problem for an eternity on campus, and the neighbors are really taking a kind of proactive and good neighbor strategy to build bridges,” Sinai said.

Though the Happy Neighbors Project is an initiative led by the Piedmont/Parker Neighborhood Watch Group, it was a student-oriented effort in its origins, said coordinator for [email protected] Karen Hughes.

UC Berkeley students created the Happy Neighbors Project in 2009, though the initiative died after those students graduated. When the Piedmont/Parker Neighborhood Watch Group showed interest in creating a program to tackle student disorderliness, they then decided to take on this name and have continued cooperating with students, Hughes said.

“In an event on Friday, there were several RAs and there were University Health Services health workers and PartySafe interns,” Hughes said. “These are students who are helping with all aspects and who are continuing with peer-to-peer messaging.”

Jaehak Yu covers local government. Contact him at [email protected]