This year has been difficult for those seniors who spent their entire underclassmen careers at Colorado College dreaming of hosting an off-campus house party.
Student renters, like the tenants at 1101 Weber, who were interested in opening their doors to students looking for a good time, will tell you that living off-campus has been a “nightmare.”
For the houses at 1101 and 1105 Weber St., the “drama” with the CC Administration, neighbors, and CSPD all started this past summer, they say.
1101 Weber is a large white house on the corner of Weber and San Rafael Street. It is home to 10 seniors and boasts a rich history of past owners dating back to the late 1800s.
A porch with cracked siding wraps the house, but most visitors only see the house in full swing. Beaten furniture, beer pong equipment, and abandoned 40-oz bottles adorn the oddly quiet porch.
1101’s Weber neighbor, local Danny Melcher, recalls times when the house was not so quiet.
“We had a couple of parties at 1101 that weren’t that bad,” senior William Thomsen, 1101 Weber resident, said. “We met our neighbor, Danny Melcher, and he said as long as we kept in touch with him things would be cool.”
To open a line of contact with their new neighbor, the residents of 1105 say they also gave their contact information to Melcher, instructing him to just “call us if the party gets out of hand,” according to Thomsen.
Perhaps that line of contact was not open enough, because what ensued was a year-long battle between off-campus students and their neighbors.
“Both the 1101 and 1105 houses, neither one [came to us at the start of the year],” Melcher said. “We tried to go over and just introduce ourselves on our behalf just because they didn’t do that.”
Somewhere along the line, the police got involved.
“Instead of calling [the residents of 1105], Melcher just went straight to the police,” Thomsen said. “And when they tried to talk to him about it, he tried to file a restraining order against them. We at 1101 didn’t want to have any communication with our neighbor after that because we felt threatened.”
The CC administration is unaware of any such “restraining order.”
At the request of both the CC Administration and concerned residents, President of the Old North End Neighborhood, Vic Appugliese, wrote a letter to the CC community about recent student party conduct.
“This is the third year in a row in which an Old North End neighborhood family plans on moving out of the neighborhood due to the behavior of CC students,” he wrote.
Though the members of the Weber party house feel that their contact with their neighbor was more than thorough, the relationship continued to dwindle.
Melcher called the student numbers he was given from 1101 Weber several times in response to noise levels and said those who answered the phone weren’t “respectful.”
Though off-campus tenants feel the administration is cracking down on the once “easygoing” attitude the college has held towards student parties, President Jill Tiefenthaler insists the importance of respect is what is being reaffirmed through the resent actions of the administration.
“My goal is for CC to be a good neighbor to all those who live around our campus,” Tiefenthaler said. “We want our students to have fun, but they must do so in a way that respects their neighbors.”
But what started as a neighborhood issue has now crossed into the college’s brass.
“It started off as a problem with the neighbors and it’s now turned into a problem with the administration,” senior Henry Reohr, an 1101 resident, said. “They’re the ones that are really cracking down.”
Between the beginning of the school year and November, 1101 Weber was the reason behind a number of noise complaints but received only one ticket, followed by a subsequent ticket during fourth block.
But neighbors say noise is just part of the problem.
Student conduct continued to border on the extreme, according to local non-student residents. Melcher says there have been times where students have passed out, urinated, or thrown up in his driveway. Once, a crowd tried to rip the San Rafael St. road sign right off the post.
During fourth block, the administration had asked that 1101 Weber to not host a party until fifth block as a consequence of the noise complaints.
Trying to lay low
After “laying low” for a while, 1101 Weber hosted another party fifth block.
“[The fifth block party] immediately got shut down,” Thomsen said. “They told us to lay low a while, we did, and then we had another ticket sixth block.”
The ticket during sixth block wasn’t even the result of a party. Instead, the ticket was a consequence of too many people in the house—one too many.
“Once we had 11 people in the house, just one more than the people that live there, and our neighbor called the police on us,” Thomsen said. “That wasn’t even a party at all. And as a result of that incident we weren’t allowed to have a party ever again. We had to meet with an administrative panel where seven members of the house were charged, but sanctions were imposed on all ten people, so three people weren’t even allowed to defend themselves.”
The tenants of 1101 tried to file a college appeal based on the fact that three of the housemates were not allowed to defend themselves. Thomsen also believed there was a bias in the system due to Dean Edmonds’ role as both the communicator of the outcome and the only person to which one can appeal.
However, Dean Edmonds only “communicate[s] the hearing outcome,” according to process regulations. He does not hear the cases himself, therefore remaining impartial.
“He obviously shot down our appeal,” Thomsen said. “So in terms of the overall experience [with the administration], it’s not been too great. On one hand they teach us how to host better, and on the other hand, they shut us down completely. If an 11-person party warranted this ridiculous outcome, we are now in constant fear of what will happen.”
Since that last incident, the tenants met with Melcher to mediate their problems mid-March.
“All he wanted us to do was communicate more, but the reason we didn’t was because of how he threatened us,” Thomsen said about the alleged restraining order.
The tenants of 1101 Weber have determined that the administration is responsible for most of the confusion.
“There’s no problem with neighbors, the landlord, or Sunflower [Property Management],” Thomsen said.
According to both Thomsen and Reohr, they have gone “above and beyond” what most other parties are doing by using sober hosts, guest lists, and checking state-issued identifications.
A number of other houses under similar probation have been notified by the school that if they have another party they might not be able to walk at graduation.
After a year of “confusion” and overall “drama” in dealing with the administration, neighbors, and CSPD, Reohr is skeptical if he would do it all again.
“No, definitely not,” Reohr said when asked if he would live in a popular off-campus house again.
“I would definitely call it harassment or something close to it from the school. Last year the seniors went six months without getting a single noise complaint,” Thomsen said. This year there have been over 50 noise complaints related to the houses on the 1100 block of Weber, according to Thomsen.
Part of the problem may be due to the recent acquisition of two properties on Yampa, 922 and 928, according to Thomsen.
“Yampa used to be relatively safe places to have big parties,” Thomsen said. “Since it was on Yampa, and it’s around student houses, noise wasn’t a problem.”
Why this year?
Some eponymous party houses like the one at 927 Weber St., known to students as the “lacrosse house” because of the student athletes who live there, enjoy the luxuries of party hosting due to their location far from local homeowners.
The lacrosse house has hosted crowded parties roughly twice as often as 1101 and 1105, yet has only received one noise complaint.
“It baffles me that a school with issues with donations would be harassing students right before they graduate,” Thomsen said. “They wouldn’t even let us have our parents over for dinner initially because it was considered a ‘social gathering.’”
Both Dean Edmonds and Dean Mason declined to comment on the stipulations concerning the dinner.
Though it may appear as though the school is “harassing” tenants by becoming involved in off-campus affairs, the Student Code of Conduct makes it clear that a student is under the code “from the time a student comes to CC until they graduate,” according to Mason.
According to Mason, campus safety has been working with both CSPD and student renters to help foster a responsible party scene. Thomsen feels differently.
“The old director of safety would mediate between police and students,” Thomsen said. “Campus safety would try to intercept police to get things under control to protect the students. The school has been reacting a lot harsher to parties than in years past.”
Campus Safety now puts much of their focus on prevention of out-of-control parties through education.
Thomsen finds the workshops and education, if anything, unhelpful.
“I was told that if you are a sober host and go to court you are looked on more favorably,” Thomsen said. “I went to court; the DA looked at me and said ‘What’s a sober host?’ Also, checking IDs and being more selective creates a crowd in front of the house, worsening the problem.”
Regardless, some students remain fearful of the school’s future flexibility to off-campus parties.
“I’d be interested to see what the school is like in four years,” Thomsen said.
How to host a respectful, fun gathering
“One additional point for party hosts to understand is that they are accountable for the conduct of their guests—not just when they are in the house, but if they are in the yard acting inappropriately or if they are being loud as they are coming to or from the party,” Director of Safety, Pat Cunningham, said.
Though local non-college residents do take some risk in living near a college campus, Appugliese suggests that this “does not give students a free pass.”
There are ways to foster a respectful relationship with a neighbor and still be able to have friends over for a good time.
“We always tell our direct neighbors when we’re having parties and they’ve always been fine with it,” senior Nate Pearson, who lives at 927, said. “The latest noise complaint came from over a block away, I believe.“
It’s also important to remember that not all your neighbors are on a block plan schedule.
“Please, keep the noise down. The person or persons that you wake in the middle of the night or in the early morning hours are working folks who need their sleep and rest to optimally perform at their jobs the next day,” Appugliese said in his letter addressed to the college community.
“One of the key points involves good communication with neighbors well in advance of an event—developing good relations and communicating on expectations is crucial to being good neighbors,” Cunningham said.
Campus Safety’s role is one of education for hosts of off-campus parties rather than one of control. “We do not conduct enforcement activities. We are not in a position to tell someone they have to shut down a party. We are not in a position to issue citations for noise complaints,” Cunningham said.
Campus Safety’s goal is not to shut down parties but instead patrol parties in the interest of student safety.
Though both Campus Safety and the administration are aware of the “Senior Party Calendar,” they do not use it to aid in their patrolling of parties.
The administration does not respond to issued tickets, but only the noise complaints themselves.
“The reason for only responding to noise complaints makes a lot of sense, because by the time CSPD gets on the scene people have left and noise has been turned down.”
According to protocol, when a neighbor calls with a noise complaint, the police have to issue the tenants of the house a ticket if the neighbor requests it.
Though there are roughly 500 students living off campus, there are minimal noise complaints for most houses, according to Mason.
“One thing to understand is that for the most part, here at CC, it’s very healthy,” Mason said. “For the most part I feel our students are good respectful neighbors, and we have gotten that feedback from neighbors.”
Staff Writer Colleen Leong contributed to this article