Our view: Something’s got to change

Consider this:

• One alcohol awareness class.

• Six days in jail.

• 30 days on house arrest.

• 52 hours of community service.

• More than $1,000 in fines and court costs.

Don’t be fooled – this is not a stratified list of punishments for continuing offenses. A Kent judge sentenced Sigma Nu member Michael Parisi to them all, for two noise violations last semester.

Usually, we try to avoid redundancies, but this story reminded us more than ever of the need for an extreme shift in the relationship between Kent State students and the city of Kent.

We’ve written time and time again about the value of open communication. We’ve tried to remind students that they would never treat their hometowns the way they treat Kent. We’ve talked to the Undergraduate Student Senate, City Council members and students about what can be done to fix the problem.

Something’s got to change.

Generally, we agree that Kent State students have a responsibility to keep commotion to an acceptable level and should respect the year-round residents’ right to a clean, safe and quiet home.

But targeting students with predatory ordinances and outrageous punishments is not going to foster a more functional relationship between the two sides of Kent. On the contrary, such action will undoubtedly make some students even less likely to care about or conform to the desires of the city.

Unless the sole point of the noise ordinances is to taunt, target and trap students, which we doubt, such steep punishments seem unreasonable.

For Phi Kappa Tua member Mike Szabo, the first noise violation filed against him should have served the purpose of a warning. There was no need to take further action unless he showed no willingness to comply.

If the next night, he was responsible for just as much noise, another visit from the police would be understandable. But waiting 12 minutes, as the police said they did, and then charging him again does not indicate that the city has a propensity to work with students to prevent noise – only that it wishes to punish students.

Because we’ve met with police and city officials, we don’t believe that the city has such malicious intentions. But in the eyes of students, who are already distrustful, this is just another example in a long list of times the city has shown it has no desire to work with students.

So once again, we find ourselves in the position of pleading with the students and the citizens of Kent to find a way to work together to make this city a better place for everyone.

There’s only so much we can say – action must be taken. Last semester, we held an open forum with USS, police and City Council members so that students could discuss their questions and complaints. We can hold one again, if you tell us that’s what you want.

Or take action on your own. Visit USS office hours and ask them what they can do. Call your City Council member (yes, you have one) and talk to them about what’s on your mind. Ask your landlord if there have been previous complaints filed against your property so you can make sure you don’t get in trouble.

Something’s got to change.

And you can change it.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.