Students making noise, paying for it

William Schertz

It’s not a party unless the police show up.

Such is the mindset of many Kent State students, and as several of them have discovered, the best way to get them to come is by making some noise.

Close to 40 noise violation citations have already been issued to students in the housing surrounding campus since the start of fall semester, estimated Lt. Michelle Lee of the Kent Police Department.

Under the city’s noise ordinance, it is unlawful to conduct a large gathering at a private residence or in a residential area that generates excessive noise at any time. Anyone who is cited for a violation will be fined up to $150.

“We’re watching our asses now,” said Andrew Demiglio, sophomore chemical physics major said in regards to two noise violations his South Linoln Street residence received within the last 30 days.

Demiglio said the fines came to $125 each.

“I just think they’re being ridiculous,” he said. “Cops don’t have many ways to get money around here except for us college kids. I guess that’s one of them.”

Demiglio said he and his roommates are taking precautions against future violations by keeping everyone inside the house during parties to quiet things down.

The ordinance defines excessive noise as sound that is “audible past the property line of the property on which the source of the sound is located.”

While a noise violation is considered a minor misdemeanor in Kent, a citation can spell trouble for students in the future. Multiple violations fall under the nuisance abatement ordinance that was enacted in 2004.

The ordinance, which also includes criminal damage, underaged consumption and weapon use as well as other violations, specifies that the first two offenses within a six month period will get warnings, while subsequent violations are met with fines of about $100.

But it’s not the students who are receiving these fines; the abatement ordinance makes property owners accountable for their tenants’ actions.

“There was a lot of rentals in the city whose owners were living out of state and they didn’t care who they were renting to and what their tenants were doing,” Lee said.

Since the ordinance was enacted, the number of nuisance related incidents in the city has dropped significantly, something Lee attributes to property owners becoming more involved in their tenants’ affairs.

“Many of them are getting fined by the police and then by their landlords,” she said.

Kent resident Elizabeth Myszka owns three houses along East College Street, one of which is on the list of current nuisance properties and the other two each have received warnings.

“I have been fined in the past,” Myszka said. “It does go back on the residents though. I add it to their rent responsibilities.”

Myszka also said she notified her tenants that she would be charging a processing fee in the future as well.

As of September 13, there are 20 houses in Kent classified as nuisance properties, and another 7 are currently in the warning stage.

Myszka said she feels that many of the citations being issued to students are in cases where area residents did not call in to complain.

“I think they’re really quick to hand out noise violations,” she said. “If my tenants are disturbing neighbors then yeah, cite them. But no one has called and filed a complaint. It has all been police patrolling the area and giving out citations if they can hear any noise.”

Lee said that while officers no longer have to act on a complaint after 9 p.m., interfering with parties is not at the top of her priorities.

“We would much rather be out looking for D.U.I. drivers rather than going and breaking up a party,” she said. “Obviously when we get a call we have to go, though I’d say 95 percent of citations are complaint generated.”

Myszka also said she thinks the police are using noise violations as a way to create revenue for the city.

While these fines do generate some revenue, Public Safety Director Bill Lillich said the fines associated with noise violations are not being used to make money.

“Obviously it’s a revenue generator, but it’s not enough to offset all the costs of enforcing the ordinance,” he said.

Contact public affairs reporter William Schertz at [email protected].