Neighborhood committee meets to discuss drunken disturbances by students in residential areas

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In collaboration with public safety officers, the Berkeley Safe Neighborhoods Committee, or BSNC, met Monday night to discuss police education and property ordinances regarding drunken disturbances caused by students.

About 30 community members were joined by representatives from the Berkeley police and fire departments to reflect on emergency responses to “noisy and drunken disturbances” in residential areas around the city, especially those caused by UC Berkeley students.

The committee, which holds monthly meetings to discuss public safety issues, heard a presentation from BPD Officer Jessyca Nabozny on the importance of educating UC Berkeley students on responsible drinking.

In her presentation, Nabozny stressed the importance of coordination among BPD, UCPD, the fire department and the Greek chapters to hold “constant conversations” about problematic behaviors at parties.

“For many (UC Berkeley) students, coming to college is the first time they’ve been away from home, and we need to have frank conversations with them,” Nabozny said. “They have not been taught how to properly drink alcohol.”

To inform community members about the procedure for filing complaints about “loud and unruly gatherings,” Nabozny also explained the ways private residential properties — primarily fraternity and sorority houses, “mini-dorms” and co-ops — can be held accountable for such gatherings.

Collaborating with Nabozny on the presentation was city firefighter and paramedic Kristin Tucker, who founded an educational program dedicated to encouraging safe party practices in the college community called Every Bear Goes Home.

Tucker said she created the program because she felt it was her “duty to do something more than just doing calls on student parties” and said during the meeting that the fire department conducts individual workshops with each fraternity and sorority on campus.

According to Dylan Howser, adviser for the Interfraternity Council and employee at the campus’s LEAD Center, the death of a UC Davis student at a fraternity south of campus in November prompted many fraternities in the council to increase advocating the “mature usage of alcohol.”

Other attendees, however, did not believe that education alone would be effective in reducing alcohol-related problems. They recommended that ordinances of responsible property management be used to reduce such problems, which are commonly seen on the south side of campus.

“After college, most students are going to leave Berkeley, and they aren’t going to be invested in Berkeley’s future,” said attendee Yolanda Huang. “Education alone is not enough.”

Jim Hynes, assistant to the city manager, said at the meeting that future ordinances for mini-dorms and co-ops in Berkeley will include the requirement of a manager to notify neighbors of any large gatherings at the complex and to make note of complaints.

Hynes’ comments were seconded by community planner Friedner Wittman, who made recommendations during the meeting to require Berkeley property managers to include a limitation on social activities in their lease language.

BSNC President Shirley Dean recommended the formation of a BSNC subcommittee to continue the discussion of future mini-dorm ordinances, an issue that was deferred by Berkeley City Council in April so that further studies could be done, according to Dean.

The next BSNC meeting is scheduled to take place June 1.

Contact Jessie Qian at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @jessieq96.