U student leaders fight party rule

JP Leider

University student governmental bodies’ efforts this week might lead to changes in a proposed Minneapolis city ordinance.

Members of the Minnesota Student Association and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and other community members met Monday with 2nd Ward City Council member Paul Zerby, who represents the Minneapolis campus and surrounding area.

In late November, Zerby proposed the ordinance that would seek to deal with noisy or “unruly” assemblies. It will be reconsidered at a Dec. 14 Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee Meeting.

Zerby said he was encouraged by Monday’s meeting.

“It was a very, very constructive, good meeting. Everyone came to work,” he said.

Members from MSA and GAPSA raised two main concerns, Zerby said, that he is trying to address.

Under the original proposed ordinance, once a house is tagged for having noisy or unruly assemblies, the placard would remain for 12 months, even if tenants had moved out, said Christina Baldwin, MSA legislative affairs chairwoman.

MSA and GAPSA also wanted to limit the fines to participating tenants, instead of partygoers, or tenants that weren’t at the party, Baldwin said.

Tenants who are out of town for the weekend shouldn’t have to pay for a party their roommates threw, she said.

If the ordinance passes through committee and the full City Council, and houses are placarded, the ordinance does give tenants and landlords a right to a formal review process, said Bill Dane, an attorney for Student Legal Services.

However, while the burden of proof doesn’t shift to tenants, the hearing won’t be the same as a criminal court, Dane said.

The city attorney would need to prove only a “preponderance of evidence” that showed the violations most likely did occur instead of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said.

Matt Healy, a University student and Como Southeast resident, said he doesn’t agree with the idea of the ordinance because students live in the area, as well, and their feelings should also be considered.

“It’s a college campus; living here should allow us the right, if we’re paying the money for our rent,” he said, “we should have some say over what we are and aren’t allowed to do.”

Healy, who lives on a block with five student houses, said the police have been called “numerous, numerous times” because of noise complaints.

The issue, Healy said, is that in spite of efforts to encourage students to call noisy neighbors, students call police instead.

He said placarding a house seems wrong.

“It’s our property, we are paying the rent for it,” he said. “There’s no reason to exploit us and have everybody think we’re bad people just because we like to throw a party now and then.”

Healy said police should spend less time dealing with parties and more time fighting crime on campus.

Zerby expressed similar sentiments, but said the two are linked.

“The fact is if we have less resources poured into dealing with livability issues, we can spend more on (other crimes).”