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Brown warns against off-campus student rowdiness

Kaitlynn Riely | Thursday, August 30, 2007

Student body president Liz Brown warned student senators Wednesday that unruly off-campus behavior by students this weekend could jeopardize ongoing discussions between student and city leaders about the proposed ordinance addressing large parties in South Bend.

“Many of us have the mentality that by moving off campus we are automatically free from the rules and regulations that govern residence life on campus,” she said. “However, we must realize that although we no longer have to check in with our rector and RAs, we do have a responsibility to behave as responsible residents of the South Bend community.”

Brown sent an e-mail to the student body on Aug. 4 to notify them of an ordinance drafted by members of the South Bend Common Council. The ordinance requires residents of boarding houses – defined as residences occupied by more than two unrelated people – to submit an application to the city 10 business days before holding any gatherings in which more than 25 people would have access to alcohol.

Brown urged the senators to tell their friends and classmates that student government alone cannot change the ordinance. She said the student body must contribute to their efforts, because student behavior during the next few weeks could affect the outcome of the eventual hearing.

Brown called the ordinance a “huge wake-up call for Notre Dame students.” She told senators she is not recommending an end to off campus student parties, but rather encouraging students to be respectful of their neighbors and other South Bend residents.

“We need to see some improvements in student behavior – it’s just a fact,” Brown said.

Community relations chair Colin Feehan reiterated Brown’s stance during his committee report, saying that that student behavior during the first full weekend of the fall semester and for the next few weeks could have a deciding effect on the outcome of the ordinance.

“Our ability to negotiate is dependent on student behavior,” Feehan said. “So this weekend, especially, encourage your friends and classmates to be respectful to their neighbors.”

Brown said South Bend Mayor Stephen Luecke’s office told her the South Bend Police Department will actively enforce the disorderly house ordinance, the existing ordinance that addresses noise violations.

Brown and student body vice president Maris Braun began discussing the ordinance with city officials before most students returned to schools. They have met with members of the Common Council, the mayor and other city officials to discuss alternatives to the ordinance, which would apply to many students living off campus and would levy stiff fines against residents who did not submit applications.

The Common Council decided Monday to delay the public hearing for the ordinance, for the third time, until Sept. 17. The mayor’s office also drafted a revised version of the ordinance with what Brown called “major changes.”

The mayor’s proposal would require individuals living in boarding houses to notify the police department 24 hours in advance of a gathering of 25 or more non-residents.

“This change is major,” Brown said, “because it is a notification, rather than a registration process.”

Under the mayor’s proposal, there is no application to a city administrative office, only notification to the police department. Fines will, however, still be charged to individuals who do not observe the stipulations of the ordinance, Brown said.

“This new version is at least a step in the right direction, and I am encouraged that we have another week now to discuss further developments that would bring us closer to our goal of moving away from this restrictive ordinance,” Brown said.

Brown said she plans to continue to meet with city and University officials during the next few weeks. She said she has a meeting planned for Friday with city council members, the mayor and Vice President for Student Affairs Father Mark Poorman.

Brown’s address was delivered from the podium – a setting she said should emphasize the importance of her message about good behavior by students.

“I don’t like to take the podium except for the three times a year that I address you in regard to the state of the student union,” Brown said, “but I wanted to come up here today to draw some attention to an issue that has obviously been on the forefront of student minds for the past month.”