Party foulin’

By Deanna Cabinian

Partying is a big part of college life. Every student has been to a party at one time or another. Sometimes, though, parties can get out of hand. When this happens, the partyers might have to pay.

Senior marketing major Nick Sweeney has been fined twice for partying. The first time, he and his roommates were fined $575 for having kegs of beer. Sweeney said it was two days after the party, but his landlord saw kegs in the garage.

The second time, Sweeney and his roommates were fined because they exceeded the allowed number of guests. Their lease states they can have only 20 people over at a time, including inside the apartment and the walkway outside. Sweeney said they had about 40 people over. They were fined $100.

When asked if the fines had changed his partying behavior at all, Sweeney said, “We try, it doesn’t really work. They’re pretty much out to get us.”

Joe Sosnowski, office manager of Star Properties, which owns townhouses and apartments on Hillcrest Drive, said tenants can be fined for large parties, kegs and leaving garbage or litter around.

Sosnowski also said they hold people responsible for things that happen outside the housing if the landlord is sure who did it. A party fine of $175 will be incurred if partyers exceed the noise limit or have an excess number of guests. The number of guests each unit can have ranges from 15 to 20. If kegs are found at a party, there can be a $175 fine for each keg.

Litter and garbage fees vary, depending on how much there is and how long it takes the landlord to clean it up. If tenants incur fines repeatedly and continually violate the terms of their lease, other actions can be taken. Sosnowski said Star has taken tenants to court because of repeated violations of their lease.

The landlords of College Housing Group, which owns Stadium View I and Stadium View II apartments on West Lincoln Highway, also fine their residents for partying. Tenants have to pay $200 for any keg that is in or around the apartment building or property. Also, there is a $75 fee for having more than 16 guests over.

Litter also is subject to a fee. If tenants discard trash anywhere except a trash receptacle, they must pay a $75 fee. There also is a $75 noise fee. If a neighbor can hear noise coming from the apartment after 10 p.m. (weekends included), they are considered to be disturbing the peace.

University Police Lt. Matt Kiederlen said NIU police do not give tickets to students for partying – the University Judicial Office hands out fines. Police can charge people criminally, though.

Kiederlen also said University Police handles any large-scale parties on campus or in the residence halls, but not off-campus parties.

“It’s next to impossible to give an absolute definition of an out-of-control party,” Kiederlen said. He said parties that are loud and obnoxious, that have underage drinkers or that people complain about are those that are considered out-of-hand.

He said when officers encounter underage drinkers, it’s up to the officers to decide how to handle the situation. Kiederlen said discipline can range from a warning to an arrest.

Kiederlen said the department tries not to have any “blanket policies” on how to handle large parties. He said every situation is different, but usually officers will go to the door and inform people of the complaint and ask them to leave quietly.

University Police only responds to parties if people complain, if housing files a complaint or if workers come across a violation while on duty. Kiederlen said if there are no complaints, the department assumes the party is safe.

“We’re not here to make kids into marching robots that don’t have any fun,” Kiederlen said. He said he understands college is about exploring and learning about yourself, and sometimes it involves drinking and/or partying. Kiederlen said the police want to make sure this happens in a safe, legal manner in a safe environment.

NIU’s judicial office enforces the residence halls’ policies on partying. Terry Jones, associate director of the office, said hosts and/or those participating in the party can be fined. It varies from case to case.

According to their policy, a party is defined as “a gathering with or without alcoholic beverages from which significant noise or other disturbances emanate and/ or more persons are involved than can be reasonably accommodated in an individual student room with the door closed.”

Jones said community advisers (CAs) or other residence hall staffers usually are the ones who file incident reports and make referrals to the office. He said the police generally address more criminal matters.

Jones said the office issues many party fines each year, but he did not have specific numbers.

Students can contest a decision and have a hearing, but if they are found guilty of being in a party atmosphere, a $100 charge will show up on their bursar’s bill. They also are required to take an online course.

Jones said fines are issued to deter individuals from similar behavior in the future.

He said the university does not have jurisdiction regarding off-campus parties. He did say, though, that if certain parties held off-campus have an impact on the NIU community, the judicial office could be involved.

An example he gave was if people were at a party and were drinking on the sidewalk on Greek Row. Then, the university could get involved because of the student connection to Greek Row.

Annie Pasquini, a sophomore communication major, knows what it’s like to be fined for partying. She and her roommates have been fined twice for parties at their Lucinda Oaks apartment.

The first time, they were fined a total of $600 for several reasons, Pasquini said, including having too many people over, making too much noise and having kegs. The second time, they were fined for damage to their apartment, which came to $175.

When asked if her partying behavior had changed, Pasquini said, “We don’t have so many people over … we go out now.”