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Group debates potential off-campus policies

John Cameron | Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In order to improve off-campus student life at Notre Dame, Campus Life Council (CLC) examined other universities’ policies regarding off-campus parties and city police during its Monday meeting.

“It seems that a lot of these programs grew out of situations like we found ourselves in,” student body president Catherine Soler said, referring to the spike in off-campus arrests earlier this semester. “Things were getting really bad and they had to do something.”

One of the schools CLC studied is Colorado State University, where the University collaborated with local law enforcement through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish a system for registering parties. Hosts of registered parties benefit from a warning and opportunity to correct the noise violation before police intervention.

Soler said this program would be difficult to adapt to Notre Dame.

“The immediate problem with that is it’s very high cost, and the area they live in is very low in crime,” she said.

Other universities, such as Ball State and Duke, have used MOUs and appeals to state legislatures to enable campus police to patrol the surrounding off-campus community. Andrew Bell, student body vice president, thought using Notre Dame Security Police or another third party to handle off-campus student incidents could be promising.

“When we met with [South Bend Police], several officers communicated to us that they’d rather not have to deal with student parties,” Bell said. “We hope to set up a program where the response is still immediate, like the police, but in another form … that could effectively do the same thing as the police without straining [South Bend Police] and without legal consequences if they’re not necessary.”

Based on the example of Boston College, which uses off-campus Resident Assistants to patrol and deal with problematic parties, CLC discussed the possibility of instating similar positions as well as developing an administration position to deal with off-campus life exclusively.

“A lot of other schools have an office or administrator or someone to deal with things like this,” Soler said. “Is it the responsibility of Notre Dame to create an administrator … to deal with making sure off-campus students’ needs are being met?”

Alex Kasparie, Knott Hall senator, said a third-party solution would be appealing to students.

“I think any student is going to tell you they’d rather have someone else knocking on their door than SBPD,” Kasparie said. “I think that’s definitely an appealing thing for most students.”

Keough Hall rector Fr. Pete McCormick said that, regardless of University or community cooperation, students would have to contribute to the effort. He said students would probably have to trade off some privacy through registering houses and parties if they want to benefit from warnings or non-police intervention.

“We’ve talked a lot about what the community can do for off-campus students. The question in my mind is what students can do for the off-campus community,” McCormick said. “There’s got to be some accountability.”

Bell reminded members that it would require a specialized and adapted policy to fit the unique Notre Dame community.

“We understand no solution is going to be perfect at another school or perfect for us at Notre Dame.”