Since the beginning of August, the Fredericksburg Police Department has received 29 complaints concerning University of Mary Washington parties off-campus, which is a decrease from the 49 complaints made in 2011.
The complaints include loud music, shouting allegations regarding intoxicated individuals and underage drinking. Fredericksburg Police Public Information Officer Natatia Bledsoe has noticed a decrease in complaints by comparing the volume of disturbance calls this year to that of previous years around this time.
In the same time period in 2011, 49 complaints of the same type were received and 42 in 2010.
“Although, while tracking and responding to these complaints, we don’t differentiate between noise complaints specifically and other types of disturbances,” said Bledsoe.
The nature of the disturbance calls are not specified until the Fredericksburg Police or UMW Police respond to the call.
“The officer bases his action on what he finds when he arrives at the source of the problem,” said Bledsoe. “We may respond for a noise complaint but end up making an arrest for intoxication.”
The first complaint of a party or disturbance will receive a warning; further complaints may receive a summons or criminal charge, according to Bledsoe.
“Information about all criminal arrests involving UMW students are given to the University,” said Bledsoe.
UMW Police Business Manager James DeLoatch only knows of the off-campus complaints through the FPD, since off-campus residents are considered under the jurisdiction. Eagle Landing and the UMW apartments fall under the University’s jurisdiction.
“UMW police usually only respond to on-campus disturbances, our main source of off-campus disturbances that are reported to the UMW Police Department are from the Fredericksburg Police Department,” said DeLoatch. “City resident disturbance calls don’t come through to us here, they go to the city police department.”
Senior business major Manisha Kumar thinks that the main source of the disturbance calls are the individuals living in the area.
“The Fredericksburg community seems to express the most concerns about UMW students being noisy,” said Kumar.
The Fredericksburg Police Department disturbance report list given from Bledsoe confirms Kumar’s impression. The FPD documents all complaints received with the date, time, location and nature of complaint and name of complainant.
“Neighbors typically are the source of most complaints, and the location ranges from College Heights to Idlewild to downtown to the area around Kenmore Ave/Maury Stadium,” said Bledsoe.
DeLoatch can see the situation from the perspectives of both students and city residents.
“Off-campus students have to take into consideration that you have individuals who live in Fredericksburg, but work in D.C. or Richmond,” said DeLoatch. “So when they come home from work all day, they want to relax, not come home to a party next door.”
“Students are stressed after a week of school and would like to enjoy the weekend,” said Kumar. “Weekends are the only time a college student can relax and enjoy a couple days off from classes and school work, so there should be some consideration for that as well.”
DeLoatch can relate to this perspective.
“At the same time when you take the chance and live next to a university, there are going to be parties,” said DeLoatch. “They are just going to happen.”
Kumar believes that some noise pollution should be expected by residents who choose to live near a university.
“Fredericksburg residents made the choice to live near the university, so they knew what they were getting themselves into from the get go,” said Kumar.
Students are generally very compliant, according to DeLoatch. A polite approach to a party may resolve the issue of a complaint.
“Courtesy can go a long way, if the students are going to have a party somewhere in the community, they should let their neighbors know,” said DeLoatch. “The impact is more in the city, on campus [partying is] the culture and it’s understood by other students.”
Bledsoe explains that noise complaints are a minor issue on the disturbance list compared to other issues.
“Disturbances in general are the most frequent complaint received involving college students,” said Bledsoe. “Alcohol arrests are far more prevalent than noise violations.”