About a month into Fall 2016, the policy changes to off-campus alcohol violations and student behaviors that were enacted last April are starting to impact off-campus activity.
The policy, which was implemented during former president Neil Theobald’s tenure, includes increased fines of up to $1,500 for each individual living in a house charged with underage drinking for second and third offenses. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board monitors parties weekly.
A civil violation notice goes to the owner of the property to have them address the issues with their tenants. If the landlord is not compliant and they get additional notices, it can “arise to a higher level” with a rare possibility of a cease and desist notice, said Charlie Leone, the executive director of Campus Safety Services.
Even with Theobald’s ousting, Dean of Students Stephanie Ives said the university is still intent on enforcing these policies. Ives said Theobald was a “leader” in changing the policy.
“There is absolutely no way that we could do a disservice to our students by turning a blind eye to them and saying, ‘Oh, we know that you’re struggling with this but we’re not going to do anything about it,’” Ives said. “It is our absolute obligation to create a safe environment.”
Leone said the policy was changed after the university reviewed its Good Neighbor Initiative, which works to create positive relationships between students and community members. Ives said the student code of conduct is updated about every two years to stay “current.”
“We felt that we should do a little more, so with that we added some of the fines to it,” Leone said. “We have added responsibility to people in the house that are having the issue.”
Ives said with about 9,000 students living in Temple’s “immediate vicinity,” she noticed an increase in complaints about rowdiness and harmful behaviors like excessive alcohol use.
Betty Hart, who lives on Gratz Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue, said students leaving trash out after parties and inviting friends from other colleges to socialize in the neighborhood makes her “ready to move.”
“They’re always doing too much,” she said. “Those kids are a mess.”
Leone added that since the policy changes had only been active for one month in the spring and fall semesters, it has been difficult to see any immediate changes to student behavior.
“We don’t really have all that just yet, but we feel that it is definitely helping in getting more information in areas where we are seeing issues,” he said.
Richard Bieniek, a junior international business major and a member of Temple University’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu, said he hasn’t experienced much of an impact on the fraternity’s parties. He said their regulations are also strict.
“There really isn’t that big of an effect because of Greek life procedure for student activities,” said Bieniek. “If I’m going to have a social event at my fraternity, it has to be registered with the university. You have a guest list of how many people are coming, you are checking IDs.”
Ives said the “college effect” — students’ tendencies to exhibit high-risk behavior in the first six weeks of the fall semester — has also made it difficult to analyze the effect of the change in policy.
The changed policy includes a community support team made up of trained, screened and paid students who survey the surrounding neighborhood for any sort of safety issues and call Temple Police if necessary. Those issues could be anything and might not be alcohol-related, like a crowded backyard.
Leone said the students walk around during peak party hours from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. He added that the team has been making about a half-dozen to a dozen calls to Temple Police per weekend.
“We are trying to address things earlier than before they get too difficult to manage,” he said.
He added even though the goal of the policy is not to fine students, the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards is already having hearings for party hosts who may receive up to a $1,500 fine.
Leone said that if a house continues to receive warnings with minimal cooperation, the owner of the property will receive a civil violation notice for the noise or trash violation. The occupants of that house will then be referred to the Student Conduct Board for a hearing.
Leone added that Temple Police has referred residents of about a dozen houses in the last month to the Student Conduct Board.
Ives said the university also implemented the policy because it wants to avoid student binge-drinking.
The policy accompanies other programs like the mandatory “Think About It” courses and a series of posters the Wellness Resource Center produces throughout the year.
Additionally, the Provost’s Campus Health Assessment & Response Task Force was formed in 2009 and meets during the academic year to discuss alcohol and drug use.
“It’s using multiple strategies that’s going to make a difference,” Ives said. “What speaks to [someone who doesn’t drink] is very different from what is going to speak to a high-risk drinker. We have to do a lot of different things to reach a lot of different audiences.”
The PLCB will sometimes canvass the streets, primarily west of Broad Street, but Leone said that is rare.
He added it’s usually to investigate homes where female students have been taken to the hospital and said they only had one drink, but passed out.
“We try to balance it and do more street enforcement,” Leone said. “Depending on where the targeted area is or where we have had a lot of issues, we try to look out and see if we have patterns.”
Since the beginning of the semester, Temple Police have given out 22 civil violation notices, which is slightly high in comparison to last year, Leone said, but is also skewed since officers are being trained to hand out these violations more often.
Leone added Temple Police have seen more “defiance than last year,” with more doors getting closed and less cooperation, which will lead to more referrals than last year.
“When you have a house party, what are your choices?” Leone said. “What we’ve found is the civil violation notices are a good alternative, so the officers don’t have to use force, but administration processes it and it’s a civil notice. It’s not criminal.”
Emily Scott and Grace Shallow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.