Students are hesitant to host off-campus parties
Six months after the large-scale arrests at a party on Winter Street, students who live off campus remain wary of hosting events––for fear of police intervention, but more for fear of disturbing their neighbors.
“If you’re under 21, come naked, or don’t come at all.” This instruction was included on the Facebook event for a recent off-campus party, to discourage students who were not of legal drinking age from attending.
This past September, the Waterville Police Department (WPD) broke up a party on Winter Street, where they arrested three of the hosts for providing alcohol to minors and issued court summons to over 50 underage students for possession of alcohol by consumption. The event made national news and now, six months since the arrests, many students who live off campus remain wary of hosting large events involving alcohol.
Hillary Rowse ’12, who lives in a house on Sheldon Place with five other senior girls, said that her attitudes toward off-campus parties have definitely changed since the Winter Street arrests. “My housemates and I would definitely host more parties if this event had never happened,” Rowse said, “but we would rather be careful and not host parties than risk getting in trouble.”
Rowse said that she and her roommates will often have a small group of friends over on Thursdays before bar night because they can walk to the bars from their house, but she clarified that the friends who attend such events are of legal drinking age.
“If the police happened to show up at our house during a party, the offenses—for me and my housemates, as well as the under-21 student—would be much worse,” she said. “Nobody wants to deal with that.”
Regardless of the possibility of police intervention, many students who live off campus are careful not to disturb the quiet atmosphere of their neighborhoods. “If I were hosting a party, my first concern would be the neighbors,” Dan Homeier ’12, who lives in a house on Bartlett Street with three other seniors, said.
Homeier’s living situation is perhaps a bit unique, as his landlord lives on the first floor of his house. Because of this, “we have to be respectful of our noise level,” Homeier said, “and if we’re having a lot of people over we try to let her know beforehand. I mean, I would definitely worry about the police if a party were to get totally out of control,” Homeier said, “but I don’t think I would ever host a party that would even have the potential of getting out of control.”
When they’re inviting friends over, Homeier and his housemates would be more likely to host some sort of low-key dinner, where the focus is on talking rather than drinking aggressively. Is there alcohol at these events? Yes, “but we’re usually all seniors,” Homeier said, “and besides, that’s not the purpose of the event.”
This is Homeier’s first year living off campus, but even when he resided on the Hill, he spent enough time at his friends’ off-campus houses to notice that their attitudes towards partying differed from his on-campus peers.
“A lot of the people I hung out with last year lived off campus,” Homeier said, “and hanging out with them I realized that you have to be respectful of the people around you, especially when they aren’t all college-age students who share similar views about drinking and socializing.”
Thus, while many students have felt the negative effects of police intervention in off-campus parties, students who choose to live in Waterville have to remember that “what is considered normal college behavior is not necessarily appropriate for a neighborhood setting,” Homeier said.