by Amani Rashid –
These were some of the questions raised at the City-UC Davis Student Liaison Commission meeting last week as they discussed an ASUCD noise ordinance reform proposed by the Director of City-County Affairs Dylan Schaefer, a second year Political Science and Economics double major.
The chief intent of the reform is to put lucid limits on when an officer can write a noise citation. Although there was no arguing that, historically, the police of this city have struggled determining what noise level is deemed appropriate and maintaining steady policy and protocol; several questions were brought up during the meeting.
The biggest question on everyone’s mind was, “will the reform restrict the police when enforcing the Noise Ordinance?” In some instances yes it will, but, although it sounds crazy, this restriction is not all bad. It will stop officers from issuing citations without warning to residents who are not repeated offenders; a relief to every poor college student who accidentally played their music a little too loud as they studied for their menacing calculus final.
Another valid point brought up during the meeting was, “Will this increase the amount of noisy parties since it will be perceived as easier to get away with?” The formal response to this question was: “This reform proposal is in many ways a formalization of what the police currently do, and so residents should not perceive it as a relaxation of the law?”
So if there was a general consensus about the necessity of a consistent, official policy why was it then that the meeting ended on an inconclusive note?
Assistant Director Kevin Pascual, a third year History and Economics double major, believes that the reform was not voted on because of “poor presentation and a lack of evidence to back claims made.”
For example, when the authors of the reform were asked to justify the allegations that police have unjustly cited students without warning; all that was offered was merely an eyewitness account.
Another reason the meeting may have ended inconclusively is “a lack of collaboration with the Davis police while drafting the reform; it is necessary to include the opinions and ideas of all those affected,” stated Pascual. The retort; regardless of who authored the reform, “This reform is not about making it easier to party,” as Schaefer was quoted affirming.
The student response to the Noise Ordinance Reform was quite unexpected. Most students approached with the question: “What are your opinions on the noise reform?” responded by stating “I like it as long as it lets the police do what they do!”
Chris Lucas, a second year Chemistry major, responded by stating: “I’ve been warned and I’ve been cited on more than one occasion, but never once was it a messy affair. I don’t see need for reform.”
Some students perceived the reform differently. Linda Said, a fourth year English major, was happy to see “students finally taking initiative and taking steps to repair a big problem that affects us students instead of complaining and hoping it will fix itself.”
My apartment manager was similarly impressed when presented with the proposal: “I always like to see students address issues that surpass what brand of beer tastes best. This reform is well stated and doesn’t seem to carry a student bias.”
All my neighbors think the reform needs to be stricter; more accountability is necessary: “When I’m studying for three midterms and working on a paper I want to know that the insensitive party host across the street suffers the consequences!”
The complications of implementing a noise reform transcend the question, “Does it favor students too much.” It is a lengthy process; the original ordinance took years to put into place and this reform cannot be rushed.
As a result of last week’s meeting the authors of the reform will be meeting with the police department and commission members this week to draft a proposal the commission will accept.
I have seen officers cite residents without warning and I have seen officers warn residents more than once without a citing. Although a little bit of standard protocol and procedure is clearly essential; we mustn’t forget, the policy must take into account its effects on the entire community and its effect in the long run.
Amani Rashid is a second year UC Davis student who will be writing about UC Davis and student related issues for the Vanguard.