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Downtown Residents Bemoan Partying McDaniel Students

Downtown Westminster residents attended Monday's city council meeting to ask for help in dealing with party-prone college students.

Westminster residents told city council members and the police chief this week they are fed up with students who host parties and disturb the peace late at night.

"Main street shuts down at 1 a.m. and they [college students] come up to  Hersh Avenue and might as well put up a street sign that says, 'open for business,'" George Cliff, a Pennsylvania Avenue resident, told the council.

"It goes on every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. It’s not that they come up in small groups of two or three students, sometimes it's groups of 50."

Prior to the citizens comment portion of the meeting, Westminster Police Chief Jeffrey Spaulding reported that the department is increasing police presence outside of Main Street bars at closing time. He said police officers would also be checking IDs at some bars to ensure patrons are the legal drinking age.

"We'll also be assigning officers to patrol the streets heading back to the college," Spaulding said. "We will have a significant presence; it's one of our highest priorities and we're working on it."

Cliff said that just standing outside of bars isn't going to be enough.

Council member Tony Chiavacci, council public safety chair, said that he was part of a meeting more than a year ago with police, college representatives and residents to discuss several off-campus student houses that were habitual offenders of disturbing the peace and underage drinking.

"We're not condoning this activity; let's be clear on that. I'm glad you're bringing this to our attention because I thought this was under control," Chiavacci told the residents.

Cliff admitted that there had been a lull in the rowdy student behavior but that it has returned.

Tina McAulay, a Monroe Street resident, said that her yard backs up to the back yard of problem residences on Hersh Avenue. 

"I hear everything that goes on over there," McAulay said.  "I’m a working person with a  middle school student. My concern is not only for myself but also for the impressionable students who go to William Winchester [elementary school]....

"I'm asking the chief of police that your police officers are more consistent. If this is what my kids see, what are we doing for the kids, not teaching them anything," McAulay said.

Spaulding said one problem for police is there are new students moving into the residences every semester.

"Every semester the names and faces change," Spaulding said.

Spaulding said the problem isn't new and that police meet with college representatives, students, residents and police.

"Our experience in the past has been that once we’ve had one of these meeting of the minds, it has a calming effect on that residence. The problem abates, then a new group of students come and the problem starts again," Spaulding said.

Council President Damian Halstad said that it's time bear down on the troublemakers.

"This to me is an extension of what we’re fighting on Main Street. It's important, it's destructive and I take it seriously," Halstad said. "We have to stay on it and I think this is a good opportunity to ramp it up."

Halstad asked the police chief to address the problem with a renewed sense of vigilance.

"So often with these situations you have to turn the heat up," Halstad said. "These kids do have something to lose--they can’t afford arrests, fines, records or for their parents to find out what they're doing."

WestMonster March 14, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Since the kids change every semester maybe the responsibility should lie with the landlords and the College. Clearly the annual meeting strategy isn't working. The students they met with this semester just go across the street to party.
Tina McAulay March 14, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Trust me, we have contacted the landlord of 2/4 Hersh Ave. Before the first set of students moved in my family received a tour of the property and the contact info for the landlord. I have approached the landlord on differnt occassion (in person and by phone) about the students, but the attitude is : they are young and having fun, also we live in a college town and this should be expected. If this is the attitude of the landlord then I highly doubt that they speak to the students about keeping the peace with the neighbors. As parents we begin teaching our children at a young age there are consequences for your actions and you will be held accountable for those actions. The homes on Hersh Ave, Monroe St, Ward Ave, Penn. Ave and Main Street are filled with kids who attend William Winchester, West Middle and Winters Mill High. These children see these behaviors going on throughout the school year and they also see that the students of McDaniel are not held accountable for their actions. What kind of example are these young adults setting for our kids? What kind of impression is our local police dept. making on our children when they see the college kids "getting away" with this behavior? Bottom line .... I am trying to raise a child who be held accountable and have consequences for her behaviors. I expect the Police Dept. and College to hold the students of McDaniel accountable for their lack of courtesy and respect for their neighbors. T.McAulay
WestMonster March 14, 2012 at 01:01 PM
I am on board with your comments completely. I too have spoken with that landlord and he won't talk to me any more, I guess because I'm causing him problems. I suggested the landlords and the college because clearly these students aren't grown up enough to be able to respect their neighbors. The Council needs to know that: 1) this is going to take a more comprehensive effort than sending a few more cops out there for a week or two, 2) the bars aren't the main problem because the parties start at 10pm some nights, and 3) the neighborhood will be following this "renewed sense of vigilance" closely (and it should apply to more than just the cops).
Kym Byrnes (Editor) March 14, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Thanks for weighing in Tina. I corrected the spelling of your name and Hersh Ave. in the article, sorry for the error :)
KateD March 14, 2012 at 01:43 PM
I'm not disagreeing with anything the article states or the comments that those around the college make, however it's interesting to me that this goes on. I tend to wonder where the college students are most of the time because i don't feel like i could even classify Main Street Westminster a college town (and think it would be awesome to make it one) as I often feel like i see more grungy, low class individuals roaming the streets. I never see students around and why would they hang around when there's nothing open in town past 4 pm on Saturday and absolutely nothing open on Sundays. I often wonder how Main Street hasn't just completely failed altogether.
Lisa Dalton March 14, 2012 at 02:21 PM
I'd have to agree with Kate. I live blocks from the college, and I see your occasional group of kids......jogging. I' m not on the street in question, but I think for the most part, it is a very quiet campus.
Robin Nicole March 14, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Like some of the others, I have heard anecdotally that this is an issue but I have never witnessed it myself. I will admit that when I first moved to Westminster I was shocked by how it is the most anti-college town, college town I have ever been in. (Ithaca and Newark DE being my points of reference). My son goes to William Winchester. His interactions with the McDaniel students have all been extremely positive, whether it is at his school, his after-school program, swimming lessons, or on campus events. If there were issues I would use it as a "life lesson" tool for him. He knows that people drink, he has had the alcohol education classes at school, we would talk about it and what our family thoughts and beliefs are on the whole situation. Kids may be impressionable, but if you talk with them, not once but multiple times, about your beliefs it will have an impact. I also have found that college students, especially the men, are very perceptive to young children being around as long as you TALK to them and don't treat them like second-class citizens.
McDanielrandomstudent March 14, 2012 at 03:51 PM
As a very close friend of people who live in one of these "questionable houses" they are not all that bad or unreasonable people. to be honest they where shocked at the articles that have been posted in the past two days they wern't aware that they where disturbing their neighbors to that degree. They have only had one noise complaint the entire school year, and have kept it quieter the following weeks.  They are not assholes, nor are they unreasonable, I know for a fact if their neighbor where to come over the next day or even early the night of, on a Friday or Saturday night and asked them to keep it quiet for the night they would be more than willing to immediately turn everything off and kick people off the property. It's true college students are going to drink and their going to be kind of loud. Not that it's an excuse but I feel many of time students are unaware that they are disturbing their neighbors to such a degree that a council meeting was warranted. 
McDanielrandomstudent March 14, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Continuing I am not attempting to justify their actions in anyway nor am I saying its appropriate, I'm simply saying that college kids don't always make the best choices its part of growing up. Talk to your college student neighbors,  just ask if they can slow down a little bit on the party's and you might be really surprised at the result.  Theirs absolutely no reason a symbiotic relationship couldn't exist here, I know my friends in the house in question have offered to shovel their neighbors walk or mow their lawn as they do their own. Need help moving furniture? Just ask and I'm sure the four college guys living next door wouldn't mind taking 10 minutes to help a neighbor out!  Please don't take us students as all assholes that don't care about our neighbors or the westminster community. Just come talk to us and let us know we are disturbing you during the evenings and you might be shocked by the result. 
WestMonster March 15, 2012 at 01:56 AM
One thing you're right about is that not all students behave as poorly as the ones that prompted the complaints at the council meeting. I have had positive interactions with some. Speaking for myself, I expect that if students are mature enough to live off campus they are mature enough to consider the impact of their actions on their neighbors before they act. It also gets frustaing when you have to have the same conversation over and over. As far as the number of complaints, our street has been out of hand most weekends since last august. We call the cops when we, or our kids, are awakened by the noise.
Tina McAulay March 15, 2012 at 03:20 AM
In response to some of the comments left .... ** The college campus itself is generally quiet, very rarely do we experience any kind of disruption from the campus. Our disruptions come from the students leaving the bars at closing time and walking back to their homes (I am glad they choose to walk and not drive) but they are very loud while doing so. ** Not all the students are bad, nor do these houses represent the entire campus. Keep in mind that while this is a college town, we were living in our homes BEFORE these properties were turned into rental units for college kids. If the students kept their guests inside the homes it wouldn't be as much of an issue. The problem arises when they gather outside in groups (typically 4 or more). The more they drink, the louder they get because they are all shouting over one another. When I have called the police it is typically after midnight and the kids are gathered outside. When they stay in the house I usually only hear them traveling from point A to point B, which is loud then, but it is only for a short time period. ** I shouldn't have to have a "heart to heart" with them. They are young adults, who are supposed to be mature. It is common sense ...you live in an area where people have children who get up for school or have to go to work the next day. Be Respectful of Others. It is simple, not rocket science. ** Robin ~ I have a seperate response for you. I am running out of room.
Tina McAulay March 15, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Robin ~ Your comment came across as though I am not speaking to my child about what is going on and how it could be handled differently. Please know that I have been dealing with this 9 months out of the year for 3yrs, so we have had plenty of talks. I am lucky enough to have a great relationship with my child and we talk open and honestly about all the things she faces as she is growing up. I know that my child is secure in who she is and is a leader , not a follower. But as the former William Winchester PTA Vice President and the current PTA Vice President at West Middle, I am not only concerned for my child, but all the kids this could possible impact down the road. Also, we are talking about 3 properties that have effected our neighborhood. If the students had more respect and courtesy this wouldn't be an issue. I shouldn't have to talk to them about being courteous or respectful of others, it is common sense. For you to assume that they are treated as second-class citizens is wrong. I will smile and wave when I see them but if they want my respect it must be earned and thus far it hasn't been. I would be curious as to your reaction if you or your child was woken out of a sound sleep a couple times a month for the past 3 years. It is easy to pass judgement when you haven't walked in our shoes.
Tina McAulay March 15, 2012 at 04:02 AM
Thanks for your comments, but I do want to clarify a couple of things. 1. The students at Hersh Ave. don't do their own lawn, the landlord does it for them. Also this house has had more than one noise complaint since August. So, I guess you are talking about the Penns. Ave house? 2. I know that not all the students behave in this manner, but the ones that live in these houses don't give a good reflection on McDaniel Students. 3. Honestly, after being woken up in the middle of the night,why should we have to walk over to the houses and ask for the party to be shut down or taken inside. If we wait till the next day, the party just continues on , this is way the police are called. 4. I have personally called the police 3 times in one night for a single party and for some reason the students didn't get the point the first 2 times, so you are trying to tell me they don't realize they are disturbing the neighbors?? 5. Common sense is all it takes. If you have over 20 people in your house and some are outside drinking it is loud. The more people and alcohol the louder it gets. 6. There have been many nights I have gone to bed with the party starting around11pm and have tried to fall alseep, but once I continue to hear the loud voices and foul language, enough is enough. I realize you are all young and want to have a good time, then keep it indoors where the noise is contained, don't bring it outside. Common sense, Courtesy and Respect of others is all that is needed.
Tina McAulay March 15, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Here is another impression of the McDaniel students. As I sat at Sakura having lunch, there was table of 5 McDaniel students eating as well. I overheard their conversation about the articles that have been done in regards to the parties and the crack down on the students. Well, this table of students felt the whole thing was a joke. For example, one young lady was going to call Rafaels herself to find out when the police where going to be stationed out front to check id's. Another young lady spoke of only having to worry about the next 2 weekends. My favorite was " this is a college town, so don't live here". At this point the only thing holding me back from going over to the table was that I didn't want to be rude to the person I was having lunch with. If this is just a sample of the reaction of students on campus, then we obviously have a long road ahead. It is clear this isn't taken seriously by some of the students and they are already trying to find loopholes to avoid getting caught or trying to outsmart the police dept. Also, let me make one thing clear .... this is NOT a college town, this is a TOWN that has a college in it! My family has lived in our home for over 40 yrs. There was never an issue because everyone/thing stayed on campus. Our problems didn't begin until off campus housing came into our neighborhood. All the students have to do is be respectful, courteous, have common sense and keep the party indoors.
Buck Harmon March 15, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Maybe you should call Rothschild.....he could throw a posse together and attack them like the homeless. Peace and tranquility would be quickly restored.
Tina McAulay March 15, 2012 at 12:38 PM
No, I don't think a posse or any attacks are needed. Just some common sense and respect for others would be helpful. Thanks for reading though!
WestMonster March 15, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Thank you for making these points so clearly. I have noted, in the comments to this article and in talking to the students, they feel they are entitled to act this way because "it's a college town". I have also had conversations with police, who responded to the parties, who told me students are going to have parties, and I should just accept a certain level of disturbance during the school year. The police have improved their response, but something proactive needs to happen now. While Westminster does have a college in it, it is not defined by it. I agree with you- respect and neighborly courtesy are what we're looking for.
Robin Nicole March 15, 2012 at 01:23 PM
I guess what confuses me the most is what do you expect the City Council to do? How is throwing even more middle men into the equation part of the solution? You can't ban alcohol. You can't restrict who owns the house or who lives there, that's a violation of equal housing opportunity laws. Since the noise ordinance is a county statute, wouldn't you have to go to the county for issues with it? You say "I shouldn't have to have a "heart to heart" with them", yet that should be a critical part of the solution. COMMUNICATION. The college has been here since 1867. I think saying this is not a college town, but a town with a college in it, is splitting hairs. Why so much animosity for so many years?
Tina McAulay March 15, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Robin ~ No we can't ban alcohol, nor restrict who lives in these homes but we can ask for and deserve respect from them. Maybe we should have mentioned the trespassing on our properties or destruction of the property that has happened, so it is more than a noise issue. Also, how can we be expected to speak to these students when I have witnessed them myself being disrespectful to the police. If they don't respect the police , they certainly aren't going to respect me. Also, it isn't possible to reason with someone who has been consuming alcohol, so we choose to call the police. The council has been a critical middle person with the college. They have had meetings with the college and hopefully in the future this will include the residents as well. As the years have gone by the situation has grown worse and is no longer tolerable, this is why we have decided to react now. I appreciate your opinions, but we could go on and on about this topic. I think at this point we just need to agree to disagree and hope that as the warm weather continues the problems will become a situation of the past. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.
SOUTHWESTMINSTER March 15, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Well considering that they pay rent and are not trespassing .............. sounds like sour grapes.
WestMonster March 15, 2012 at 03:01 PM
I have had issues with trespassing- even entering my house through a door left accidentally unlocked. Since the students change every year, having a middle man helps with consistency. There are other "towns with colleges" that are experimenting with zoning regs that address concentrations of off-campus student housing. You are correct regarding communication though. One thing we're looking for is consistent enforcement of the law when communication fails or is ignored.
WestMonster March 15, 2012 at 03:08 PM
southwestminster: paying rent does not exempt anyone from drunken disorderly behavior, public intoxication, public nuisance, or underage drinking laws.
SOUTHWESTMINSTER March 15, 2012 at 04:36 PM
@ WestMonster I was replying to Mr Harmon's comment, and thanks for making my point. :)
LeeAnneG. March 15, 2012 at 10:23 PM
My Grandparents built the first house on Monroe St. it was a dirt street then. The home has never left my family. While I understand that students are not all 'a**holes or unreasonable', one or two people being disrespectful does have an impact. Also, the renters at the 'problem' addresses may not be the problem, but some of the people that they are inviting over are creating problems. I have had a few issues; 1.) I have been woken up at 1:30 AM to a male standing in-between my home and my neighbors home yelling 'Hurry up, I'm leaving, and if you want a ride you better get your a** over here!' Not only was this person trespassing, but they were standing right next to my bedroom window screaming at 1AM. Would you not be upset by this happening? 2.) I woke up early one morning and went outside to get my paper, a car was parked with the front passenger side tire sitting up over the curb and on top of a water pipe. The car had McDaniel stickers on the windshield and back window. I went inside to grab my camera to snap a few pictures; I wanted to make sure that I had proof that a car was sitting on the pipe not knowing who would be responsible for the cost of repairs. I got dressed and upon returning outside, the car was gone. I waited the three hours until the city opened its offices and called them to let them know about the broken pipe. Later that day a few workers came and did the repair. I was not charged, but the tax payers did have to pay for it. I could go on!
Native March 16, 2012 at 12:18 AM
We can always count on Harmon to chime in with his daily cheap shot at the commissioners.
Spike Jones April 08, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Tina, 3 years ago you moved 40 yards from a college campus. Could you not foresee noise being an issue? As you repeatedly state, "Common sense is all it takes."
Tina McAulay April 08, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Spike ~ I typically welcome the thoughts, comments and opinion of others but I am unable to welcome yours due to its inaccuracy. Please let me clarify somethings for you. 1. The property I live on has been in our family since the 1960's, my grandparents were the original homeowners. 2. I have lived on Monroe Street since my grandfather passed away (summer of 2005), so I have lived here for over 6 years, not 3 as you stated. 3. There were never noise or trespassing issues until the properties behind us were bought (once the original owners passed away) and were turned into off campus housing by the landlords (this began approx. 3 years ago) And no we did not foresee there being an issue because there was never an issue in the past in all the years that my grandparents lived here. 4. The problem only exists with off campus housing, not the campus itself. and 5. please read all comments thoroughly before making/submitting your own because you look as though you are the one with no common sense. Hope you had a Happy Easter.

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