A recent change in campus policy means that off-campus residents could be receiving more visits from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), as after a first call and warning from Campus Safety, further complaints from neighbors are handled by the LAPD. A Jan. 28 email from Dean of Students Barbara Avery informed off-campus residents of this new protocol.
According to the LAPD website, any noise that is “excessive, unnecessary and/or annoying” is subject to regulation. For most noise violations, citations from the LAPD only occur if the noise “disturbs the peace, quiet and comfort of neighboring residents” and is clearly audible from over 150 feet away from the property. Additionally, the LAPD notes that they consider the time, location and nature of the noise when enforcing violations.
Creating the policy for addressing complaints about off-campus houses was a combined effort by Campus Safety and the Office of Student Affairs. Chief of Campus Safety Sean Kennedy worked closely with the Eagle Rock community and the LAPD to ensure all parties understand response protocol for complaints.
“We let [Eagle Rock residents and Occidental students] know that Campus Safety would go out to the house for the first call as a warning, then after that concerns would go to the LAPD,” Kennedy said. “This change was decided upon by working with best practices that are used through the country. We related those policies to our specific campus and with our Campus Safety structure.”
School officials implemented the new policy as a way to foster harmonious living between students and neighbors, according to Avery’s email.
“You are living among neighbors who typically have a different lifestyle and set of priorities than most students,” Avery wrote.
Avery’s email further explained that the new policy would hold students accountable to both the Occidental Code of Student Conduct policies and laws enforced by the State of California.
Students who live off-campus have encountered minimal challenges working with the new policy and respecting their neighbors.
“We’ve always tried to keep the noise down past midnight, so we generally don’t get noise complaints,” off-campus resident and politics major Alice Ottoson-McKeen (senior) said.
Politics major Mackenzie Tucker (senior) generally has positive experiences with Campus Safety and her neighbors. She noted that Campus Safety has been helpful in the past in removing students who were loitering in the streets.
“I do think that [Campus Safety] does a really great job of responding to noise complaints when they receive them. Every time that Campus Safety has come to my house, they are really respectful and just kindly ask us to keep the noise level down,” Tucker said.
Tucker has also had experience with the LAPD.
“[On one occasion] our neighbors called LAPD after Campus Safety dealt with the initial noise complaint at our house because our neighbors felt as though further action needed to be taken. LAPD arrived and told me that the gathering we were having did not need to be broken up because we were not violating L.A. noise violations,” Tucker said.
For Kennedy, the new policy is only the first step in a trend of greater community cooperation.
“I want to organize a town hall type meeting between students, businesses and neighbors. The onus is on students to help each other and work with us,” Kennedy said.